Thanksgiving At The End Of The World. SANDYLAND: Sea Bright Edition
It’s always the same shit at afterhours.
The creatively maintained sense of entitlement paraded under the false pretense of familiarity. The bullshit bargaining and the usual name-drop-of-the-week or drug associated bribery. The nightlife industry politicians and their pork filled proposals along with the street market retailer and his discounts. You hear it so much you hate it then know it so well you start repeating them.
You can’t help it.
It’s 4 in the morning and you’ve spent half of your rent on vices on a girl whose vices include snorting all of your rent. You’ve been barhopping all night and you still haven’t sold your quota so you’re trying to beat the other dealers to the market without paying the door douche his cut. You just want to get wasted and you’re wearing the right bra with the right jeans. Someone’s trying to fuck tonight. You just want to get in. Fuck this guy and his 15 dollars. Fuck the DJ’s and whoever needs to get paid. “I’m so-and-so and I want free”. Oh I get it; lord knows I’ve committed the faux pas. But now it’s the last thanksgiving morning 2012… and I’m the after-hours door douche.
I’m less than a couple of weeks away from Art Basel and I’ve only saved a couple of hundred bucks at the most. My weekend fundraising efforts were nothing but an endless dog-chasing-his-tail of nose cake hangovers only to financially breaking even and spiritually break slowly. I needed the legal but still highly illegal cash. I put on my big boy pants and left my autumn cozy apartment at 3:30 in the morning for the lonely tall shadow-y junkyard and warehouse part of Bushwhick.
I find my boss, get my bank, meet my security detail and start charging away. I charged everyone. I charged on looks. I charged on emotions. I didn’t charge my crew. Ok I did charge most of them. If I knew you “worked” I charged you extra. “Support the arts” was repeated over every groan and creak of their stiff and rarely opened but totally exhausted wallets, each bill holding on to each other like they were being ripped away from their family. Greedy fucks. If you didn’t have any money I didn’t even consider letting you in. The after hours business doesn’t run on ego’s but sex, drugs, and money…
Why are you even here?
People offer me everything, from their just lit cigarettes to felony amounts of substances. I turn most of them down, blaming my rare form on a disease called “Job Integrity”. I break only after M**T and S**E show up with a flask of Siberian miserable Vodka. It’s S**E’s birthday. Some neighborhood retailer pays the entrance free with a molly pill. Oh cool the hip drug. I take it. Its not one for the highlight reels. The next thing you know its 9 am and DKDS is playing minimal techno to a bunch of molly-heads withering under invasive sunlight flooding the huge loft like plastic knifes in an oven.
I did too much.
I collected my money and blind-man-reading-braille my way home. D* is due to show up in her car at any minute. My girlfriend, K**A, is already awake and judging me for breaking our suggested curfew. I smell like nicotine and degeneracy. I Freebreeze myself into some resemblance of fresh and cold water assault my face in shock therapy. This was the orphan Thanksgiving I’ve always wanted. My son lived with his mother (not happening), my sister had all of her kids in the Bronx (wasn’t going to the Bronx), my brother had “weed and pussy” (well, alright), and my mother was in love and spending the holiday in Florida (bummer?!). I wanted to spend it with all of my midnight friends. The idea was to have dinner with M***Y in New Jersey then return to Brooklyn later in the night and go on a local turkey dinner tour starting with a binge at D****S & J***A’s. The minute I moved D*’s permanent back seat luggage aside to take a nap I knew I that part wasn’t happening.
After an hour and a half of driving we stop at a gas station to buy M***Y some cigarettes. I asked the counter lady for an American flag. After the storm the flag popped up everywhere. It was a sign of American resilience that only Hemingway could write or Norman Rockwell could paint. The coastline of New York City and New Jersey looked like a table filled with a toppled Jenga puzzle. Power outages everywhere and complete homes ripped out of their foundations, super storm Sandy was the gentle child that surprised us and toppled our wooden Lego land that took centuries to build. Entire islands and peninsulas disappeared under the rushing flood waters only to reappear days later as rubble filled Normandy beaches. I was headed to one of those peninsulas. I was headed to a Thanksgiving dinner at the end of the world.
“Sea Bright has seven members-only beach clubs of which five are in the North Beach area: Ship Ahoy, Sands, Surf rider, The Sea Bright Beach Club and Chapel Beach Club; and two are south of the center of town: Driftwood and Edgewater, all of which charge thousands of dollars for membership and have waiting lists of several years for prospective members. In addition, there is a large public, municipal beach in the center of town which charges a fee, but includes free parking and is protected by lifeguards, with entry limited to those who have purchased a beach badge. The traditional surfing beach area, called the Anchorage, is free and public, but unguarded. In addition, there are numerous public access stairs to other unguarded beaches for fishing, recreation and sun tanning.”
“As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 1,412 people, 792 households, and 324.7 families residing in the borough”
Shannon Mullen, US Census Bureau
M***Y had moved to Sea Bright a couple of weeks before R***Y’s death. Between managing his 2 dive bars and nursing him in the hospital along with her own personal turbulence she needed a timeout. She was watching R****Y die for a year without one. She needed an out. She found a quaint apartment in a beach community and signed the lease like she was endorsing a lottery check. Her house was surrounded by water on 3 different sides. Behind her house was a river and in front of it was the Atlantic Ocean. To the right was a shipping dock with a weird yacht in the shape of a swan. We named it “Swammie”. Everyone in the neighborhood was suburbia polite and very different from the leathery faces she saw every day at work. She loved her job though and loved R***Y like an adopted father but it was exasperating. So she did the next best thing; she made a vacation her new home and her responsibilities her vacation.
Brie and honey in pastry shells
Roasted Brussels sprouts w/ pancetta
Baked corn and cheese casserole
Red velvet brownies
M***Y’s Thanksgiving Menu. Thanksgiving 2012.
The girl can cook. If I had the money I’d buy her a food truck in exchange for a single plate of leftovers. For as long as I’ve been dating K**A they’ve invited me but I was far too shy – well that’s what I told them. I always felt that because I was “different” (Dominican, poor, unmotivated, a baby daddy, whatever) I wouldn’t be accepted and only treated as a disposable, a taboo that would last as long as the curiosity. Once they saw how much in love K**A and I were they had no choice.
Thanksgiving is the highlight of the social calendar year for them. They worked out and ate gerbil food all year round just for the honor of feasting like a Greek minus the feather and the pedophilia. My family lived in New York City so attending was always difficult but K**A would make me a plate – a plate I would lick clean then cry like a girl after her first real orgasm. This year I was an orphan. I was finally going to put in my 24 hours of giving thanks with the gang. I smoked enough to give me the appetite of an elephant in the desert. I passed out on top of a pile of coats after 1 plate.
I wake up around 3 in the morning to my phone vibrating like a massager in a single woman’s home. Some work related issue. I’m too far to deal with it so I pass the buck as a managerial privilege and turn my ringer off. I returned to the table to find the Thanksgiving festivities still in full swing. The girls were done taking turns napping (a tradition) and were yapping away fueled by bottomless bottles of wine, whiskey and tryptophan roofies. T**A, still nursing her foot from a karate class accident, stuck to her tall glasses of beer and ice and pre rolled up joints. A local contractor friend of M***Y’s almost convinces me to become a Republican over lines of George Bush Jr’s favorite vice cut on a Vice magazine cover. Every bump was a step closer to post election Romney vote. Nothing felt more natural. I was orphan-ed out. Soon our conversation turned to FEMA and the damage Sea Bright and the surrounding communities sustained.
The entire Peninsula was closed off to residents and the general public for weeks after Sandy. The military stood guard to prevent the plundering that would follow. M***Y and her two dogs camped out with the contractor and his family. Their house was located on higher ground in the mainland. The military finally allowed residents to enter the area with proof of residence only couple of days before thanksgiving, but not without imposing a mandatory 5pm curfew. M***Y would then told us about how afraid and convinced she was. How the devastation she witnessed as she reached her home emptied out everything inside her. She had just lost the bars she managed and lost the only boss she ever loved and respected. Her house was at the furthest tip of the peninsula and every traffic light she stopped at broke her heart a inch closer to bankruptcy. There was no possible way her home survived all of this. When she pulled up to her drive way there was a trailer on its side that used to be stationed on the beach several blocks away. Sand and debris covered everything like a comforter on a poorly made bed.
“That’s it.” she thought “I have nothing…”
Tears were already swelling up in her eyes as she slowly opened her outside door. She felt the carpet in the hallway. It’s was still soaking wet. She hesitated before as her fear was now a plausible reality. Her vacation house was no more. God didn’t want her to have shit. FUCK IT FUCK IT ALL TO HELL. She took a deep breath and choked on it. She opened her door and threw herself on her knees ready to confirm what she already felt deep in her existence. She was not destined to be happy. All of her hard work and sacrifice just to have God send her the mother of all storms and wash it away. FUCK IT FUCK IT ALLLLLLLLLL!!!!
Her carpet was dry.
All of her furniture was intact. Not one item moved, mind you she had a floor to ceiling sliding window door on her tiny porch that faced the ocean. She lived on the ground floor. Mind you every building surrounding her with the exception of a few other apartments was destroyed or completely uninhabitable. Her power was turned on the next day. The only apartment on the peninsula with electricity and gas was hosting a Thanksgiving dinner. She told us she rolled on the floor and couldn’t stop laughing. R***Y, who always took care of her as she took care of him, had put a force field over her house. His spirit was watching over her. It was the only way she or any of us could logically explain it.
And there we were at 5 in the morning, in true R****Y fashion, partying like we were in R**K***R Bar at 7am. Fuck the curfew, it was 5am and I was on the beach with a weed clip and a camera taking really bad pictures of the waves. My own private party… wilding at the after sandy hours.
Earlier before my 7 hour nap M***Y overcooked her pancetta while smoking a cigarette on her odd first floor balcony thingie. The smoke had set off her fire alarm. This alarm sounded like it warned London of impending Nazi bombings back in World War 2. We were the only sound for miles. The few remaining police and the volunteer firefighters showed at our door with nerves still scabbing up from the pins and needles of a post-apocalyptic beach zombie town. An older couple from one of the only other livable apartments rubbernecked at our party in disapproval. T**A curses them out (she’s their age its kind-of cool). I started hiding stuff. The girls flirted apologies with cheerleader enthusiasm and invited the front liners in for a plate. They just smiled, comforted by the false alarmed and surprised that someone was actually having Thanksgiving at the very end of the world.