Long Beach Island calls like a siren ready to crack us on her shores.
Miscommunication has this trip off to a funny start. Or it will hopefully be funny tomorrow. Ruby calls and says she’s here to pick me up — downstairs, double-parked and I’m looking down my empty street. Poor thing drove all the way downtown to get me at work and I’m chillin on my front porch in Somerville.
It’s raining on the beginning of our journey. This is my perfect day. Cooly drippy rain — hoodie rain, as we all know — and the wet street sounds soothe me. I would be perfectly happy if it rained the whole time we’re at the beach, sitting in the wet sand, swimming in the ocean in the rain, 360 degrees wet. . . curled on the dry porch watching the sky fall.
I get motion sickness. Violent motion sickness. This is a problem and has been my whole life. Fifteen minutes into any drive, and I don’t care if you’re Mother Theresa behind the wheel, I’m looking for the nearest plastic bag. There is nothing I can do about it, and I’ve been dealing with this since birth. Dramamine is the only out, and this motion sickness pill renders me mentally handicapped. More so than usual. My speech slurs, I forget what I’m talking about. Worse case scenario: I attempt an impassioned discussion on a sensitive topic. Best case scenario: I pass out for three hours.
Since I’m determined to be a good passenger on this six hour journey south, I have decided to try the holistic approach. Everybody has some recommendation for motion sickness, and it’s usually people who have never had it. “Oh my best friend’s sister used to have those arm bands…” “Have you tried ginger?” And my reaction is this: after 2.5 miles in an automobile, my vision is swimming, my head is pounding, and my stomach feels like the frat house floor the morning after. Ginger ain’t doin shit.
But. I go to Harnett’s in the Squizz, a fantastic little holistic establishment, convincing myself that a natural approach to my spastic inner ear balance upset can be fixed by a bead on my wrist. The girl behind the counter sets me up with several things. I get a wrist band with a pressure point that goes on some nerve in your arm. Stabilizes your chi. And homeopathic tablets. And crystallized ginger. And then she tells me that when she was little, her mom swore by cutting up raw ginger root into little tablets and swallowing them whole. So I buy ginger root. And chop them up. And swallow a handful.
Ruby pulls up. I’ve got my armband on securely. I’m breathing deep. This is going to be fine.
Estimated Time of Arrival in Long Beach Island: 7:00 PM
I struggle up into The Duke — the enormous black Cadillac Escalade. Ruby’s socks match the floor mats in her car — red and black animal print. This is purely coincidence; the mats are tiger and the socks are leopard.
That’s not motion sickness. It’s not. I am free of medications. I am naturally balanced and unsick. I will not vomit on the red and black tiger floor mats. One does not need drugs to overcome obstacles to health.
The ginger is burning a hole in my head and my left hand is asleep, pressed into nonfunction by the chi bead. My throat waters. But I am not getting sick.
I surrender. Just one pill. Give me 20 minutes.
2:56 PM Hartford, CT
(post-McDonald’s drive through)Hartford sucks.
The god of Dramamine has seized me by the throat. Things are looking dire and I’m not sure how much longer I can write.
Do you remember zinc oxide? Zinka, I believe was the brand name. Thick pastel stripes down the nose and across the cheeks, mark of surfers and shore teens. That was hip in 1985. “People used to wear that,” I muse.”I wore that,” Ruby says.
I got a new hat from work. It is the perfect dotcom tchochke: a black baseball cap emblazoned with the Symantec logo. Have I name-dropped here before? I think I usually preach separation of church and state but hell . . . with the drugs talking and all, you may as well go read my most recent article. Symantec, powerful creator of Norton AntiVirus, has given me this new black hat to keep the strands of hair out of my face while I’m in the car. Though I think the hat would be cooler if I was a hacker and I were wearing it in irony.
“If someone’s going to eat a part of my body, I want them to enjoy it.” Ruby, on people vomiting up cow brains on Fear Factor.
Welcome to New York, the Empire State. Now if you had a business, and the only thing you did was manufacture and sell “wiping rags,” does that mean you would shun blotting, dabbing and swiping rags?
Tappan Zee, muddy river…traffic. Make that TRAFFIC. New ETA: 7:30 PM.
The Dramamine seeps into my cells, robbing me of consciousness. I cannot feel my body.
We’re listening to Vertigo by Jump, Little Children. Jump recorded a live show in South Carolina a few months ago to release on DVD. I used to be part of their promotions team and I postered the area and harassed random radio stations. They offer prizes for the best promos. As a prize for this promotion, the winner hosts the band members in their living room to watch the DVD with them.
But what if it sucked? Or better yet, what if your roommate came home and was like, “what is this shit you’re watching?” Or even worse, “oh hey — aren’t you Matt Bivins — the guy Kristin has dedicated her life to serving in disgusting idol worship?”
I’m not entering that contest.
Hello more traffic. Hello end of Dunkin Donuts hazelnut coffee and resultant anxiety stomach ache. Last night I was in the kitchen and there were four pots of coffee between Peter and me. I was determined to stay up all night creating and twitching. Unfortunately I was unable to induce mania and ended up going to sleep at 2:00 to the beat of horrible dreams that left me unrested. Got to knock it off with the roasted beans.
7:03 PM Asbury Park Toll — designated Home of the Boss.
“You put the Ho in Hohocus.”
7:51 PM LBI, baby!
Our entrance theme song is, appropriately, “Atlantis.”.
We pass the Sunglass Menagerie, Surf Nails, Dairy King (the estranged husband of Dairy Queen), water towers like giant aliens, sandy sidewalks, Beach Theatre, Surf City, and then Beach Haven…here we come.