The Jersey Shore and Asia . . . So Many Borders, So Much Insanity
Placing your chairs, umbrellas, and ocean sporting equipment on the beach in July in New Jersey is a bit like setting up for RISK:The Game of Global Domination . . . you've really got to strategize in order to claim maximum space and secure your borders; this week we are down the beach with a group of nearly thirty folks, cousins and such, and they sleep late and rarely get to the beach before noon, so it is often up to me to claim a spot on the beach . . . my preferred strategy is to scatter shit all over the place, willy-nilly, everything facing a different direction, so it looks as if a disorganized and chaotic band of gypsies occupied the area, and perhaps seventy or eighty more people are due to show up; I'm also definitely not afraid to encroach on other encampments-- especially if it's a couple of stray unoccupied chairs-- because a small group is more willing to move, with the slightest motivation, whether it's the oncoming tide or a large and loud group of mainly hirsute Italians from central Jersey; also, I like to set up a personal umbrella and chair as close to the water as possible and as far from the main group as possible (while still maintaining a thin connection to the mainland, so not Hawaii, more like Cape Cod) and this is so that I can read in peace . . . yesterday morning, was typical: my family got out to the beach first, and I started a ragged and crazy line of chairs, zig-zagging everywhere, put the cart behind them, chucked some boogie boards and skim boards to the side, taking up lots of land and looking higgledy-piggledy and impossible to fathom, and then a few cousins showed up-- one of whom remarked on the horrible organization of the chairs-- and my family left the beach and walked to LouDogs and when we got back and I sat down in my chair, under my umbrella, things looked and felt different . . . I was hotter for one, the sand seemed drier, and the chairs were in a lovely symmetrical oval and though I was on the far edge, I wasn't as close to the water or the people in front of us as I was before . . . I assumed I was going crazy from the heat, read for a bit (Hue 1968 . . . the perfect mindset for this sort of conflict) and then I decided that something really had changed, something had been moved without my go-ahead, so I walked down to where the twenty-something year old cousins were chatting by the water and asked if anyone had moved the chairs and Nick-- the nicest guy you'll ever meet-- made the mistake of admitting he had moved several umbrellas and chairs and arranged everything into a neat and organized socially functional oval, so everyone was included in the group and everyone could see everyone else and chat and so that outside people could discern where we were sitting and put their own chairs down accordingly . . . it was all very civilized and though he had the best intentions, I reamed him out anyway, told him never to touch my chair again, explained the RISK mentality and how my umbrella outpost was designed to intimidate and amass territory, reiterated the importance of protecting and bolstering one's borders, and gave him a quick lecture on guerrilla beach apparatus fortification and entrenchment . . . and then I went back to the house and took a nap and when I returned, I had to take it all back . . . I misjudged high-tide, and the center of our zone was completely flooded out, my original position was lost to the ocean, and the spot where Nick moved my chair and umbrella was perfect, a little dry island amidst the water and wet sand, there was even a tide-pool behind the spot . . . so I complimented him for his effort and told him I was pleased that we now occupied a large swath of prime oceanfront sand, my chair and umbrella in the optimum position, and that I was especially pleased that the crew that was once in front of us, blasting "hot" country, had been washed away.