And more specifically, the Jersey shore.
As those of you who follow me religiously know, I was down the shore this weekend (which to me is a normal phrase but of course everyone around here has to comment) and while the purpose may have been less than sunny, I still had an AWESOME time.
Herewith, the things I love about the Jersey shore:
- The smell! I know we have the lake here, and the lake is lovely, and it’s really cool to have actual beaches in the middle of the city, but. Come on people. It’s not the ocean. It doesn’t have that salty, briny, slightly sulfurous smell that I associate with summer, fun and everything good in the world.
- The ocean. You look across Lake Michigan, and sure, you can’t see to the other side but you know what’s on the other side. Michigan. You can drive to it in a few hours. On the other side of the ocean is . . . well, literally, it’s Europe, but it’s so far away! The ocean just feels more majestic.
- Waves! I went out past the breakers this weekend for the first time in a loooooong time and it was marvelous. I got salt water in my eyes and up my nose and it was fantastic.
- My hair looks better by the seaside. It’s clearly the salt air. (Or the vast array of hair products and expensive conditioners my mom and my sister have. But I choose to credit the salt air.)
- Airplanes pulling oddly worded and mysteriously abbreviated advertisements for local businesses.
- Boardwalk french fries. Five Guys does a good job, but they’re just not as good.
- And pizza! We didn’t have standard NJ boardwalk pizza because we went to Ocean City, which has Piccini’s, which is awesome. They do sort of interesting pizzas available in standard and super-odd flavors but the point is, the dough is just the right blend of crispy and chewy with that nice, yeasty flavor and the cheese is gooey and melty and forms long strings when you pull.
- And people have heard of and use broccoli rabe, even at relatively cheap pizza places that serve sodas in paper cups and only take cash, at the counter.
- When you’re on, say, Route 9, headed south, there are roadside stands with clams on the half shell.
- I don’t know where else you get that special blend of trashy – “half-price” flip-flops, shirts celebrating one’s love of getting drunk, hermit crabs – and cutesy – fudge shoppes, bed-and-breakfasts in restored Victorian homes, bicycles built for four – than Cape May, NJ.
- Full-service gas stations.
- There are rest stops every few feet on the Garden State Parkway. Especially handy when you have a recently potty-trained two-year-old with you.
- The aesthetic. I think I found the store where Teresa Giudice buys her daughters’ clothes. It was in the Borgata in Atlantic City and everything was pink and sparkly with a tutu and usually at least one animal print. The sad thing is, it’s exactly the kind of stuff Zoe would love, and I almost caved and bought her something, even though (as should be obvious to anyone reading this blog), I hate that shit. But they were super-pricey so I didn’t. And what did we learn from this? My values have a price tag.
- And in that store (and all around me) I got to hear the accent I know and love. “That’s fo-ah shoo-ah.” I love you, random lady in the Teresa Guidice store.
- The beautiful herons and the prolific toads around my mom’s shore house deserve special mention.
A fashion note: I’ve finally figured out the point of formal shorts. They are still an abomination, but I understand why girls find them appealing – they allow you to show just as much leg as those tiny, tiny, tiny miniskirts without the risk of indecent exposure every time you bend ever-so-slightly a knee. So I guess they are the lesser of two evils.