But meaning no disrespect to the folks of this community, Seaside Heights has matured into the painted whore of the Jersey Shore. My writing skills put me in a similar editorial category. (Not that you could find whores in Seaside Heights, which I think would be an added attraction.) The Aztec is an open-air bar fronting the amusement pier and squats on the boarded runway, perfect for viewing some of the skimpiest bathing suits to barely cover a squirrel. I had gotten there early in the day, around 11:45am, when it was still possible to find a nearby parking spot for my K75 and a barstool overlooking the action for myself.
More than anything else, I wanted a glass of tomato juice (flavored with horseradish, clam broth, worcestershire sauce, and a strong hint of Moscow), but the famous Jersey Shore heat had already turned the inside of my helmet into an oven, and I demanded a Tom Collins instead. And I wanted a huge shrimp cocktail right alongside it too.
“A pound of peel and eat?” asked the bartender, pouring the gin, and speaking around a toothpick.
Peel and eat shrimp are typically the little runty ones, that while good, are usually hot and not what I had in mind.
“No... I want ten “jumbos” or even “colossals” if you have them,” I said, “in a shrimp cocktail as big as my ass.”
I knew I was pissing in the wind looking for colossal shrimp in a joint like this. I doubted I’d find them anywhere in blue collar Seaside. A colossal shrimp is to what you will find in a chain restaurant or a joint as to what the Hindenburg Zeppelin is to my cigar.
“No colossals,” said the bartender, who was turning out to be the warm conversationalist I’d anticipated.
The Tom Collins was a regulation shot of Gordon’s gin (less a hair at the rim), industrial strength sour mix, and club soda over ice. It was the kind of collins I would have expected in Rahway, the New Jersey State Penitentiary. But mixing a Tom Collins is about art, and there are damn few artists tending bar in Seaside Heights at 11:45am, on a Saturday. Certainly none at the Aztec. This is why I drink simple Baccardi and Coke in the summer... Only a moron can fuck it up, though it is possible. I once had a bartender, who looked like he was 11-years-old, pour me a spiced rum and vanilla Coke. This was like drinking “flit.” And he was pissed when I made him take it back. (Make sure you write in to me if you remember what “flit” was. A free copy of my book to the first reader who mentions it in the comments.)
The shrimp cocktail was perfect. Each jumbo shrimp had been steamed to perfection and iced to the temperature of Hagen Daz. Firm, sweet, and offering but momentary resistance to the teeth, these were the flavor of the shore. And the red cocktail sauce wasn’t bad either. I added a few drops of Tobasco sauce to kick things up.
“Another collins,” asked the bartender. (He may have been training to become a game show host, but was using up his conversational abilities quickly.)
“Baccardi and Coke,” I said. “A double.”
Asking for a double these days can be dicey. In Chester County, Pennsylvania, where Amish separatists are working their way into power, a number of bars will no longer pour a double. But on this day, the Constitution was fully respected in the Aztec.
I was halfway through the shrimp when a young guy, about 23, put his hand on the stool to my left. “Anyone sitting here?” he asked.
“Not until now,” I replied, hiding my disappointment that it would be him.
He smiled and put a helmet that must have cost $980 on the floor. You know the type of helmet: red and black graphics preferred by “Garkull, the Killer Lord of Centuri 9.” His bike was a red and black Killabusa 9400, with a back tire as thick as a tree trunk. His riding gear consisted of a sleeveless tee shirt and baggy shorts, with sandals on his feet. He had the physique of an amateur weight-lifter and the nonchalance of an investment banker. (Of the two bikers, guess which one of us was going to get laid 56 times this weekend?)
He ordered a “Sex On The Beach” and it was all I could do to subdue a smirk. But then I thought, “Why not? I’d order that two if I thought I could get it.”
“What are you drinking?” he asked, pleasantly enough.
“Spiced rum and vanilla Coke.”
“I’ll try that next,” he said with a smile. “That your old BMW parked at the curb outside?”
“Yeah... It is. How could you tell?”
“Well, you’re the only guy at a shore bar wearing yak leather crash boots and Kevlar® branded jeans, with a pair of leather gloves in your belt,” he said.
“You called it,” I said, thinking, “Go fuck yourself, kid.”
“My grandfather had a bike like that,” said the kid.
“Did he ride it to Lincoln’s inauguration?”
The kid recognized a joke (even though it wasn’t on FaceBook) and busted out laughing... “I don’t think they had motorcycles back then.”
“Sure they did,” I said. “That was the year BMW introduced fuel injection as standard equipment. Most of the industry followed in 2008.”
The kid was okay, and went on to tell me he was here to “hook up” a woman he’d met at a party the week before. She’d been with her boyfriend of several years then and needed a few days to throw him from a moving car, or so the kid understood.
I didn’t recall that the mating rituals of my early 20’s were as cut and dried as that, but then again, I was a slow bloomer. In fact, I was like one of those plants that blooms once every ten years, before eating the farmer’s cattle.
The kid was in the process of telling me how he is able to make a perfect “stoppie,” with the back wheel four feet in the air — while texting — when the woman showed up. And in truth, if I was 23, I would have thrown her asshole boyfriend out of the car myself. She was a redheaded pheromone whose very shape was defined by a tan. With a smile crafted by a graphic dental artist and eyes that tied a knot in my DNA, she introduced herself as “Dina.” I grinned in acknowledgement as I couldn’t make my mouth utter a sound. He finished the drink, and the two of then went down to the “Killabusa.” Her riding gear appeared to be sunscreen #23 and a bra from Victoria’s Secret. She wrapped around him like an ad for foreplay and the two of them roared off.
There is nothing like seeing how an expert does something to show you how you are not doing it. And yet the kid’s technique lacked something in the way of elegance... Missing was a hint of poetry... Gone was the Bogie and Bacall back and fourth that requires a man to shift gears while sitting at the bar too. Naturally, I’d have liked to have had the benefit of the kid’s perspective, but on my terms... In my words.
Above: Silver screen legend Lauren Bacall. Photo from Wikipedia.
Above: Humphrey Bogart knew how to communicate with women. Photo From Wikipedia.
This whole incident caused me to look back with a sad kind of introspective.
I have very few regrets in my life, but one of them is never really experiencing sex on the beach... Nor on the dunes... And not under the boardwalk. (I also regret not writing for television and the screen at age 25, and I regret not locking my first mother-in-law in a closet with a hive of killer bees.) I have had some really good times at the shore, but never the fantasy I had in mind. Still, I was a kid with a motorcycle once, and had the kind of times that so many people fantasize about. The K75 didn’t look like the type of bike that would get me laid in Seaside Heights. Maybe in Maine, though.
There is nothing like the sensation of the life of a motorcycle, surging into your own, through the handlebars. It is my dream to ride a modified BMW K1200 from Seaside Heights, NJ to Eureka, CA, getting laid on the beaches of both places in the process. (It would be cool if it was with the same woman.) And in making this dream happen, I am going to unleash so many others, with each one attached to a story. I hope that young kid took that woman back to someplace intimate, poured her a spiced rum and vanilla Coke, slipped her panties off — and discovered she was a guy. Every story needs a surprise ending. I wonder what mine will be.
Twisted Roads Prize Winner Announcement —
• KW Bob wrote in and correctly told us what "Flit" was... He won a rare, autographed copy of Politically Correct Cigar Smoking For Social Terrorists.
Do you have a copy "Signed and Personally Inscribed By The Author?"
• Autographed books by dead authors are worth a fortune, and "those in the know" claim Riepe is fading fast. He was barely able to pour his lunch today, and drank most of it from the bottle.. Why take a chance? Order your copy today. Send your name, address, and telephone number to firstname.lastname@example.org (.) Write "Book Order" in the subject line.
• Tell me something about yourself (favorite cigar, motorcycle you ride, golf club you hate, buddies you ride with, etc.) for the inscription.
• The first book is $30 (plus $5 S&H)
• The second or additional book(s) is $15 (no additional S&H)
• If ordering a second book, include the first and last name of the gift recipient (for the autograph)
• Pay no money now -- Each book ships with an invoice, and postage-paid payment envelope.
• Foreign orders cheerfully filled at somewhat higher shipping cost.
Order now before it's too lateeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.... Aaaaaaarrghhhh. (That was a drill. But it could have been serious)
©Copyright Jack Riepe 2012