Debauchery. That’s what I call it. Those darn little leprechauns whisper in fools’ ears and before you know it, it’s a drunken festival, Seaside-style. (Snooki and Vinny, though, were nowhere to be found, thank goodness.)
Seaside is my hometown— Park and Heights rolled into one. My mom still lives there and not too long ago, my husband and I planned to build a house on her land. But then, reality set in: memories of drunken masses, testosterone-laden fights, and gangster cars cruising the strip with subwoofers booming out the trunk. These visions confirmed a life I did NOT want my children to experience. I was traumatized enough, they need not be.
But when the greenest day of the year approaches and the annual Ocean County St. Patrick’s Day parade is upon us, Seaside is a fun time for the family, especially the kids. It is also a time for me to meet up with friends past: girls, now women, whom I used to work with on the boardwalk at Berkeley Sweet Shops (the best fudge on the whole east coast— I guarantee it Deanna!).
It’s also a time for me to confirm that in no way would I ever, ever, ever, (let me express this a little more, EVER) want to go back to the inebriated days of youth.
This year marks the 27th annual parade celebrating the death of the Irish saint who drove those darn snakes from Ireland. Let’s hear it for Patrick! Now… onto the St. Patrick’s Day festivities and debauchery, May 12, 2011… Seaside-style.
First off, the amount of traffic heading east on Route 37 was, well… crazy! Like a hot summer weekend day at 11am. Where did all these Irish people come from? Was someone handing out free corned beef and cabbage pizza on the boardwalk? So needless to say, we should have been to my mom’s by 10am.
The parade, though, was absolutely… fun. Since I was a kid the amount of marchers, bands, bagpipers and tiny Shriners scooting about on their cars (oopppps, that should read Shriners scooting about on their tiny cars) has grown immensely. My kids loved watching the firetrucks, military cars, classic cars and floats. They especially love gathering up the candy thrown from these vehicles. We watched merrily.
All the spectators seemed to be dressed in green or should I say… barely dressed in green. Now I know when I was in my early 20s I dressed… well… like a 20 year-old in… the 1990s. How times have changed!
I SWEAR, the girls (yes, they are girls to this 38 year-old mom of three… no one looked over 17) were dressed like… ok, I’ll say it… jezebels. Nothing in their costume left anything to the imagination. The guys, on the other hand, donned get-ups consisting of baggy jeans and dingy t-shirts (green, of course). The vast majority of females, on this very brisk March afternoon, sported daisy-duke shorts, skin-tight t-shirts and best of all, knee-high sports socks adorned with shamrocks. And let’s not forget the clutch purse and JLo sunglasses.
Even in my quilted jacket I was cold; I wanted to run up to these young lassies and offer them sweaters and sweatpants. Where were their moms telling them what not to wear? Where is the self-respect? Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? I don’t care if the milk is green, you still need to cover up!!!
Self-respect? Yes, I went to the Bamboo bar.
I have not been there for about 12 years. But for a walk down memory lane, I agreed to go with my girlfriend and we had fun busting a move and doing the running man on stage. I still love to feel the beat pounding in my bones, although I no longer enjoy the muffled noise ringing in my ears upon existing a club. I am too old. Yes, too old.
You see, when I was young, I went to the Bamboo and didn’t notice what I do now. Seeing the Bamboo through the eyes of a sober, 30-something mom of three is much different than through the eyes of a drunken 21 year-old.
Primarily, as I walked through the Boo, I kept on repeating to myself, “Please don’t let anyone throw-up on me.” I noticed the drunken, glazed over faces of people who had been drinking since lunchtime or before. I witnessed the almost pathetic appearances of 40+ers stumbling, their children sitting at tables while parents drank at the bar. One woman so drunk she was about to vomit in her purse. And each time someone accidentally hit my shoulder, I begged for no exchange of bedbugs.
Within two hours, I called my husband. I would head back to my mom’s, shortly. I did have a wonderful visit with my friends and St. Patrick’s Day will always be a day for us to celebrate our friendship. But it was time to go home, I was tired… dancing does that nowadays.
And as I walked home, the wind blew up the Boulevard.
I thanked God that I am no longer in my 20s fumbling (both sober or inebriated), trying to find my place in this world. I thanked God for my age and the wisdom I gained through the years. I would never want to go back, ever. Most especially, I thanked God for my loving husband and the precious children I birthed.
And I prayed, “Please dear God, blow the smell out of my hair.”
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
This is an original post for JerseyMomsBlog by Brenda Milouchev, a New Jersey mom. She still loves her hometown even with all its debauchery. The photo shows Brenda and her close friend, Katie, both of whom sold taffy by the boxful for over a decade. The photo was taken by another former Berkeley girl and awesome friend, Reagan.