Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Stinging Truth About the Beach

My summer is one adventure after another. I've never been one to be constantly on the go, having in past summers spent at least one to four days a week simply slothing around wherever I was living and watching TV and eating. This summer though, due to my lack of television and my prime location near New Hope (the hubbub of my slightly expanding recent social life) and my lack of any real responsibilities, I've been going out and doing more than I have ever before. Kevin said (and Kathy later echoed) that the summer after you graduate from school is supposed to be like this. And this means drunk...a lot.

I continued to follow this proclamation this weekend when Kevin and I went with my sister Cindy to visit my other sister Melody up in Perth Amboy. To say I got intoxicated is an incredible understatement, but let's not skip over the magic that is the Jersey Shore and the wonderful time we had visiting Sandy Hook. Now, before I begin, I must make my feelings on the beach known. I love it for several reasons...those being the following:

1. The ability to fully immerse myself in water (aka swimming).

2. The sun and the off-chance that I will get burnt tan.

3. Making sea gulls jealous with ice cream treats that for some reason taste ten times more delicioso when you are covered in sand and sweat.

4. Being a complete asshole the next day at work when you can brag to all your coworkers about how much fun it was and how they "really need to get down there soon."

- and -

5. Being able to read and sleep interchangeably for as long as I want without anyone thinking I'm lazy.

Now, the worst things about the beach are:

1. The waves/undertow trying its damnedest to knock you over and drown you.

2. The sun and the very likely chance that I will get tan burnt.

3. Sand getting EVERYWHERE.

4. Bragging at work about your visit, only to have your coworkers start blathering about their beach home that they are spending all of August down at, avoiding completely the exhausting drive on the highway and the obnoxious task of finding a parking lot that won't rip $20 out of your pocket.

- and lastly, but worst of all -

5. Jellyfish.

And this last statement brings me into my story. Now, I won't for one minute say that I didn't absolutely love visiting my sister and getting drunk into the wee hours at her apartment while having deeply riveting and sometimes disturbing and always piss-in-your-pants-inducing conversations, but the beach as mentioned before has its flaws. And the existence of jellyfish is a curse on the world. We dive into the freezing water, well at least Cindy and Kevin do. Melody and I being saner and less sadomasochistic, decided it was best to baby-step our way into the freezing tundra water that came gushing at our ankles. After settling into the fact that yes, this is really cold and that yes, it won't get warmer, we dunked our heads under and tried to enjoy the feeling of floating that comes with salt water.

But then came the stinging. Well, I wouldn't even call it stinging, being that verb is a little over dramatic. Maybe, a slight quickly rubbing the tip of your fingernail against your arm. Whatever you want to call it, it started to happen around our feet and slowly up around our torsos. Nothing to be alarmed about, but we began to notice several large brown and translucent jelly blobs bobbing around us in the water, like some sort of gang circling before the jump. Mildly freaked, we attempted to work our ways out of the undertow's clutches and while retreating, I looked below me to see that floating on the surface of the water is what seemed to be collections of light foam. Upon closer inspection the revelation that these were actually small little segmented pieces of infant jellyfish began to sit in, and thusly did our panic. Our swimming (or should I say thrashing) towards the beach picked up and we exited rubbing our bodies and launching towards our blankets. A small itching irritation, like that of a baby mosquito bite, began to cover my legs. Upon drying off it faded off, but not for Cindy, who started to get a semi-severe irritation on the side of her stomach. The rest of us laid back down onto the blanket and I started to read David Sedaris' new book while Cindy began wondering if the lifeguards would have any vinegar up at their booths. I said "No" and that was the end of it. Her pain faded as well and we enjoyed the rest of the weekend engaging in my four favorite activities:


2. Eating.

3. Gossiping.

- and -

4 Bitching.

So therefore, the trip was a complete success and aside from the joy of being able to visit Melody, I also learned that jellyfish are a direct creation from the devil and that they should be avoided at all cost. As mentioned a few entries ago, Kevin and I visited Belmar two weeks ago, and when were there I witnessed these two monster children standing over a washed-up jellyblob, poking at it and flipping it like a pancake, before splitting it in two with a shell. I thought how disgusting those little brats were and how awful and barbaric their parents much be...but now, I honor them for facing this gelatinous enemy head on, and giving it a taste of its own biting medicine.

Friday, July 25, 2008

My recipe

I like to think that I am self-sufficient in most cases of where such an adjective can be applied. Money, transportation, jobs and all that other good grown-up stuff, I can keep myself pretty well-cared for. Living outside of my parent's house for the past two plus years and never once reaching a negative bank account is a feat that I am quite proud of. However, a reality check was in store for me last week. I like to pretend that I know how to cook and I imitate those I've seen on T.V. and carelessly toss this spice and that sauce into some sort of large pot, only to be left with an absolutely delicious stew or soup. But more times than not, if I attempt anything for difficult than an omlette or boxed pasta, what I create tastes quite repulsive. But if an idea is implanted into my head I cannot rest until I attempt it.

Such a seed was planted a few weeks ago during one of Emily's classes that she has in our kitchen. She had a little section where she talked about lentils and how healthy (and tasty!) they are. Since then my mind has been brewing with thoughts and possibilities about how I could create a delectably yet healthy dish incorporating those little green delights. What I created was interesting, and yes, I mean that in an "it's actually really gross but I don't want to flat-out admit it" kind of way. At this point, I'm going to let the pictures do the talking.

Bag O Rice

Lentil Soup (yeah, after all that obsessing, I couldn't even find just plain lentils)



Old Fresh Haricot Verts



I know...not quite the unveiling, and yes, I was disappointed. Instead of bursting with flavor and stinging my tastebuds awake into luscious ecstasy, it kind of just tasted like cardboard that had been soaking in milk for a few hours. It was gross and an utter failure, but whatevs...c'est la vie.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I'm a water baby...

...or at least I would be if I was still an infant. The past four days I have spent swimming and drinking and floating and drinking some more. Kevin and I headed down to the Jersey shore and got a few drinks with my old college housemate Christina. We went to Round Valley the next day, followed by tubing down the Delaware River yesterday. And this Saturday we are going to the beach with my sisters. Blah blah. I really don't like these event-by-event retellings of my life, so I will end this and leave this blog with some shitty Microsoft Paint drawing I did of bubble tea for no reason (I tried it for the first time yesterday...derricious!).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Gay Bar

We're all animals. I need to constantly remind myself that. We humans have a way of letting our ability to stand on two feet as well as our concepts of money and politics elevate us above our other living and breathing Earthly companions. Instincts will never leave us and we can't deny the pure ravaging desires that mirror those of, oh I don't know, tigers and giraffes and countless other sorted creatures. We are designed to fit together like the most intricate puzzle pieces. Even if the hetero-lifestyle seems to lack enough flair for your taste, you still have the undeniable lust for flesh. But let me hold back until the basis for this rant can be properly explained.

Kevin and I went to a gay bar last week. "I'm gonna have to keep an eye on you," was what he said when I got to his place. Kevin has quirky little alternatives to saying standard and sickeningly cute compliments--for instance "Come to work with me and be my secretary" means "I miss you" while "Thank God you don't snore" equates to "You're a great boyfriend". In "Kevin Code" the aforementioned comment obviously means "Wow, I think you look really hot, babe. And if a single other person in this pigsty of a hornfest dares to even think about looking at you, there will be some serious bloodshed." I took his compliment gracefully and we were out.

It was a Wednesday...or a Monday...or a Thursday...a day that wasn't Friday or Saturday. It was this little place that I will simply call "The Resort" for the fact that it thinks it is one. Being that it was only the second gay bar I have ever visited in my 22 years of being a living gay male, (the first being a terrifyingly trashy and abrasively perverted place call the Men's Room in NYC), I must admit that I was filled with excitement and a fair dose of apprehension.

Pulling up to the front of The Resort, there was little to give away the fact that this place was not catering to the likes of child-bearing, marriage-abled straighties. Kevin explained to me in detail how this establishment was brand-(ass)-spanking new, built to replace the likes of another cozy New Hope gay bar that had recently shut down. I didn't press for details as to its closing, just assuming it had to deal with backdoor prostitution and sniffing drugs off of and out of objects and parts not meant for such a purpose.

The Resort though, or as I am told, is so much more than a simple watering hole for those men with a fancy for the fabulous. Glowing lights on the entrance and a drive-up for what I assume are the local celebrities that are escorted to the entrance via limo are the first things I see, making me second guess whether I am properly dressed for this location or if my ill-fitting jeans and hand-me-down shirt from a nearby thrift store will get me physically escorted off the premises. Kevin and I park and I notice some woman's name plastered on The Resort's roadside billboard. She's playing/singing/intruding the next night. Damn. My preconceived ideas about this place is that women are more or less forbidden, so it would have been a slight comfort to have her there. I could at least pretend to be the supportive boyfriend or husband when the old gays come prowling. As we step in, I notice that there is a woman behind the front desk. She's reading a (presumably trashy) romance novel and doesn't even bat a single mascaraed eyelash in our direction.

We enter a room that looks more like the inside of the Titanic's ballroom than a gay bar located on the side of a highway. A large mirror that monopolizes one of the walls floor-to-ceiling at first makes the room seem to be filled with the shifty-eyed inhabitants. I've noticed that one of the most enjoyable moments of going to a bar is watching people enter, shuffle uncomfortably around the bar and finally sit, fidgeting quite a bit, before ordering a drink. Like the new kid in school, they enter the lunchroom looking for a seat that they can sink into unknowingly without the older kids throwing Twinkies at him. And Kevin and I were most definitely of this order, not solely for never having been to the bar before, but being the youngest two studs there by at least fifteen years.

The bartender looks less than how I expected--not a flippant little thing with lip gloss and exaggerated hand gestures, but instead firm-footed and sternly direct, like an overworked gas station attendant. I get a vodka-cranberry and will regret it for the rest of the night. 97% vodka and 3% food coloring (as far as I'm concerned, there was no juice in that bitch). Across from us at the bar are two middle-aged men who I take to be a couple as they keep whispering into each others' ears and giggle. A few seats down is a round planet-shaped man who calls to mind deceased crossdresser Divine, only sans makeup. He's loud and abrasive and I can more or less ignore his shouting and attempts to hug a short and stocky timid looking thirty-something who looks more interested in counting the bubbles in his beer than in holding a conversation with Gay Santa Claus. Kevin and I are also able to ignore his yelps about his knack for dancing (which blinds me to think about) and "the good ole' boys" (whoever the hell that is). But our attempts at drunkenly falling into a pool of pointless conversation is thwarted when Donna Summers' "Last Dance" comes on and Jupiter leaps up out of orbit from his seat screaming about "My song! My song! GOD ALMIGHTY, IT'S MY SONG!" And like a scene from The Birdcage or a third-rate horror flick about a brain-eating virus that turns everyone into disco-dancing zombies, the entire seated population of the bar perks up in their stools and shimmies elbows and shoulders while swaying their swollen and drunk heads back and forth. Jupiter, the gay couple and the formerly timid, now intoxicated 30-something are all high-fiving and kissing this cheek and that cheek. The other members of this newly instated dance troupe is this mousy little guy with a defined goatee, an elderly old man (not a day over 70!) and a bouncy looking hombre of possible Guatemalan decent, all of which attempt to gyrate in their stools and flap their arms up and down like injured pigeons.

The only others at the bar are a business man, his suit and tie and his partner for the evening, a cross-dresser wearing quite a beautiful blond weave. I turn to Kevin who turns to me and we share a quick smile with one another, one half happy to be with each other and one half just happy not to be alone. Choking down my vodka, I feel the effects already kicking in after just half a glass and I know I'm not even closed to being finished at this locale. The dancing queens calm down after "Last Dance" has its last note and the mumbled gossiping and canoodling resumes.

I was drunk by the bottom of my glass, which explains why I ordered another. Clouded vision. Clouded enough to keep me from realizing how intoxicated I really was and too clouded to notice the paunchy short-limbed man in an olive-green skirt who placed himself beside me. He interjected himself into Kevin and I's conversation with the lame psuedo-sexual jokes that high school guys recite and high-five in locker rooms. If I was to say "Wow, this drink is strong," he would butt in with "You know what else is strong?"

Upon finishing my second round of pure colored vodka, we both decided to head out back home. In my stupor, a level of anxiety began to fall onto me. All these men. So old. They must have all sorts of tricks to try and lure young'ns me into their jailcell hotel rooms. Those animals. The bartender took my credit card and as he began swiping it, I noticed Jupiter rising out of his seat again and pointing his sweaty sausage fingers in my direction (in perfect rhythm with whatever club song was blasting over the speakers). Of course my credit card didn't work in the machine and neither did Kevin's, which I then thought to be some sort of ploy to coerce sexual favors out of us--"Well, there is another way to pay for your drinks." Thanks to God I still had cash from my shift at the restaurant earlier that night. There was actually an electrical storm that knocked the systems out of whack.

We stumbled back to Kevin's car and instanly I befall with motion sickness. Somehow we made it back to his house to which I immediately do what I always do when filled with too much liquor--I began rolling moaning on his bedroom floor. I don't know why I do it. Keep still gives me a headache and standing up makes me dizzy. Laying on a bed makes me feel like I'm suffocating in pillows and sitting in a chair causes me to topple over and give myself a concussion. So I roll. On the floor. And while I'm in the middle of my routine, Kevin is seated on his bed, watching me. I think to myself, "I guess he really did have to keep an eye on me" to either save me from dirty old men's perversion, or my own potential vomit.

And then I was hit with a sudden pounding of guilt. Not only for forcing Kevin to be subjected to yet another night (and oh, there have been many) of me sick from boozing, but for my judgemental perceptions of the gay bar. Those men in the bar were animals, no doubt about it. But so am I, if not more so considering that while they were probably soundly asleep at that very moment, I was groaning like a rabies-infested cat. And when Kevin is finally able to force me to drink half a bottle of water and drag my lifeless appendages into bed, I laugh, thinking that I had anyone else to fear than myself.