Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Worst First and Second Date Story You’ve Ever Heard (With the Possible Exception of “Titanic”), Part 1

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The story you are about to read is true.  Most names were changed to protect the innocent; one name was changed to protect the egregiously stupid.  (No, it was not me; I was only moderately stupid.)

It was the summer of 1995. Times were simpler, then.  Beepers were all the rage.  Coolio had us living in a Gangsta’s Paradise.  We still wore flannel on summer nights.

I grew up in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, a Mecca of fun on the Jersey Shore.  Beach, Boardwalk, Mini-golf, Rides, Carnival Games, Arcades, Aquarium, Cotton Candy, Mini-golf.  (Yes, I wrote Mini-golf twice.  I really like Mini-golf.)  And in 1995, neither a Snooki nor a JWoww could yet be found. 

Seventeen is the driving age in New Jersey, as opposed to sixteen in most states, and I had just turned seventeen in March.  Yeah, I was driving, and yeah, I had a car.  A 1985 Monte Carlo Super Sport.  Jealous?

My stepfamily, with whom I was very close, was spread throughout many towns in Union County, New Jersey, about 45 minutes north of Point Pleasant.  A few of my stepcousins and I met up at a Cranberries concert at the Garden State Arts Center, a halfway point between us.  Incidentally, if you’re wondering who started the infamous 1995 GSAC Cranberries concert mosh pit, it was this guy.  If reports are to be believed, several bystanders were inconvenienced.  

As the opening act took the stage, one of my stepcousins introduced me to a friend of hers.  We’ll call her Esmerelda.  We all had lawn seats, so Esmerelda and I hung out, talked, and laughed through most of the concert.  Maybe it was Dolores O'Riordan's dulcet tones or the contact high from the marijuana in the air, but Esmerelda seemed special.  When she told me that she and her family were going to be vacationing in Spring Lake, just two towns north of Point Pleasant, the following week, I offered to take her to the boardwalk one night.  She accepted enthusiastically, which, as it turns out, was an incredibly poor decision.

We agreed to go out on Tuesday of that week.  I picked Esmerelda up from the bed and breakfast where she and her family were staying.  I met her father, which was fine.  Parents generally liked me growing up.  I’m pretty sure that was because I was the least threatening-looking guy on the face of the Earth.  I fell somewhere between Spongebob Squarepants and a pug puppy on that scale.  The appeal of my look was of the “cute, but attainable” variety, like Lance Bass.  (Kids, ask your parents.)

At the boardwalk, we were having a really nice time. We played some carnival games and a round of mini-golf.  (Did I mention I like mini-golf?)  I won her a few dolls on the prize cranes in the arcades.  I'm ridiculously good at the prize cranes.  It’s among the many talents I possess which have no practical use in the real world.  When I was fifteen, I won thirteen NFL team footballs in a row in a Wildwood, New Jersey arcade and gave most of them away to the younger boys who had gathered around in amazement.  They worshipped me like a folk hero, which is either awesome or really sad.  I haven’t decided, yet.

Fine, Rose.  I guess your date was worse. You win.
That night, I thought it would be cool to take her out on the jetty at the Manasquan Inlet.  Unlike most of my tangents, this is important, so pay attention.   A jetty is a manmade structure, usually built in pairs, projecting out into a body of water and created to deflect the current of that body of water.  The jetty on the Point Pleasant side of the Manasquan Inlet projects out into the Atlantic Ocean.  At its closest point to land, it is made up of large boulders piled on top of one another.  As you get out into the ocean, there is an enormous, concrete block, surrounded by many, large “anchor rocks”, so named because each looks like two anchors conjoined at the top at a right angle. If you've ever played "Jacks," each looks like half a jack. 

Locals hung out on the jetty all the time.  If you go to the very end, it can feel like you’re hanging out in the middle of the ocean, especially at night.  However, because the boardwalk attractions end long before you hit the Inlet, most Bennies normally wouldn’t go out and experience it.   

“What’s a ‘Bennie’?,” you ask.  That’s a pejorative term locals give to tourists who come down to the Jersey Shore.  Residents of tourist towns everywhere have a long, proud tradition of mocking the individuals upon whom the local economy is based.  It is ironic, for sure, but it keeps the local, teenaged restaurant employees from spitting in your food.  Well, most of them anyway, so just go with it.  The etymology of “Bennie” is derived from the tourists who used to cross the Benjamin Franklin Bridge from Philadelphia to visit.  Note of Irony:  If you are wearing one of the many “Bennies Go Home!!” t-shirts sold at the local gift shops, we know you are a Bennie.  It’s a generations-old trap we set up for tourists sometime in the 1950s, much like the “Express” lanes on the Garden State Parkway.  Seriously, I shouldn’t even be revealing these things to non-locals.  The Coasta Nostra will be pissed.  I might just have an unfortunate “accident” with a funnel cake fryer.

So, Esmerelda and I walked down the boardwalk toward the Inlet, hand in hand, and things were going really well.  As we make our way to the jetty, I look at how beautiful she is in the moonlight, think about how much fun we’re having, and ponder the one question which is dominating my mind:  Will she let me touch her boobs tonight?   What?  I was SEVENTEEN.  As we make our way out to the end of the jetty, I can see there are about 20-25 people on the large, concrete base, with a handful more hanging out among the anchor rocks on each side.  

Now, I had never experienced this before that night, nor have I experienced it since, but out of nowhere, a huge wave hit the jetty and washed over all of us.  Both Esmerelda and I were knocked down and washed off the main jetty block.  I hit my ribs against one of the anchor rocks and landed on my back on another.  My head hit the rock fiercely.  Dizzy, I looked up and saw Esmerelda flail over me like a rag doll.  Her body slipped between an anchor rock and the jetty block like a letter through a mail slot.

Fear sent a rush of adrenaline shooting through my body.  I jumped up and started calling out to Esmerelda.  I couldn’t see her in the darkness.  She fell down further toward the water than I had, and I thought she could have been knocked unconscious or drowning.  I climbed down the anchor rocks, desperately trying to find her, and braced myself as another wave crashed over top of me.  Finding no sign of her still, my hope was diminishing with each passing second.

This seems like a good place to stop for now.  It’s what we in entertainment business refer to as a “cliffhanger,” and I am nothing, if not an entertainer.  Yeah, I’m probably nothing, then.  Fair enough.

So many questions:  Did Esmerelda live?  Well, okay, you already know from the title that there's more than one date.  Stop being so smart.  What happened on the second date?  Did they fall in love?  Most importantly, did she let me touch her boobs?  Stay tuned for the thrilling, or at least moderately diverting conclusion to this story.


  1. aaahhhhh.... Bennies!
    Hurry up and finish your story already

  2. Shouldn't that be "Gangsta's" Paradise? :). Also pleased that you mention the county.

  3. I know! I know! I know! LOL I love this story...

  4. Isn't Esmerelda the witch from "Wicked". If so, why didn't she pick you up on her broom? Was her face green? Did you get to meet her sister (before the house dropped on her). I'd love to hear about when she got her first flying monkey. Here is a question for the second part of the story: is a witches tit cold? (Sorry for the poor language but that is how the saying goes.)

  5. Mike - Elphaba

    Dan - Yes, thanks for the correction, Gangsta.

    1. Ah, you are correct. Please ignore my previous "ignorant" rant.