(Courtesy of Skyway Journal)
Buying a pack of Marlboros for my dad, fifty cents.
The dead eyed, pimple-ridden clerk behind the counter doesn’t question me.
Nobody cares if I’m 13.
Rushing back to the running car, freedom awaited two hours down the blackened asphalt of the Jersey Turnpike.
Plink, Plink, Plink,
Dimes tossed into toll booth collection buckets
A staccato accompaniment to Hall and Oates’ “Maneater” blaring through the Pontiac’s tinny speakers.
Early morning push-ups till my arms numbed so my pubescent muscles would pop when I took off my counterfeit Polo shirt on the beach.
My corduroy Ocean Pacific shorts were legit and made me feel like one of the Beach Boys, even if they chafed.
Creosote wrapped oily-tar scented arms around me,
Greetings from a long lost friend when we arrived at the boardwalk.
Pina colada-scented tanning oil a heady aphrodisiac as I trudged the grey-white sand strewn with pock marked clam shells like broken teeth.
Thundering waves and braying gulls were drowned out by
Clusters of girls in audacious neon bikinis belting out Cyndi Lauper’s “She-Bop.”
They had no idea it was an ode to masturbation.
I didn’t know that either, but it didn’t matter as I watched them adjust
Black rubber Madonna-inspired bracelets attempting to even out their tans.
My own carnal desires
Torn between the teased-up big hair and oiled bodies glistening in the summer sun and the
Sweetly pungent smell of fry grease from funnel cakes on the boardwalk.
Each promised instant gratification, and ultimately, regret and disappointment.
This was as close to heaven as a 13 year old could get.
Because it was the 80’s
It was New Jersey
Bruce Springsteen told me anything was possible at the Jersey Shore.