SOMEWHERE DEEP BENEATH my thin Manhattan exterior, there is a Jersey slut just waiting to win a wet T-shirt contest at Club Abyss. Six years ago, the last time I was single, friends invited me for a vacation at a Jersey Shore beach house. Surprisingly, I said yes, thinking the two years of Manhattan under my belt would quell my deep desires to become the raging whore of the Jersey Shore. I hopped NJ Transit to the last possible Jersey Coast Line stop, and soon after found myself at a giant house filled with twenty-somethings walking around in bathing suits and muscle-tees. Sobriety was unheard of at this house past 9 a.m.
I immediately got into my bikini and hopped in the pool. A guy who was the exact opposite of everything I found attractive in a man greeted me in the deep end. He had a fake tan, a shaved chest, a gold Italian pepper necklace and blond highlighted tips in his overly gelled hair. Not hookup material.
He introduced himself solely as “Moose.” I asked no questions about the name, and proceeded to get drunk with him in the crowded pool, feeling safe with Moose, knowing there was no way I would ever cross the line of platonic friends with this bundle of broken rules.
By day two I was scared. I was hardly ever wearing anything more than my red string bikini; I went off my diet and was eating foods like “Cheddarwurst” (a cheddar cheese–filled sausage that, if bitten into the wrong way, could cause second-degree burns on one’s face) and was avoiding doing my ritual of 30 minutes of daily exercise. I suddenly loved the taste of Bud Lite in a can. And Moose now seemed like a catch. I found myself wondering, how could an amazing guy like Moose be unattached?
By day three, I had agreed to go out that night to the boardwalk with Moose. I got ready to go, digging through my suitcase filled with chic sundresses and Capri pants to find the perfect date outfit: cutoff white denim short shorts and a purple crop top. I found some Suave mousse in the bathroom, probably left over from the Reagan era, and applied a thick coating of pale pink lip gloss. I went out by the pool to meet Moose, who looked me up and down and said with that slurred, drunken speech I was learning not to hate, “You clean up real nice.You’re a solid eight.” I thought that was just about the nicest thing a person could say.
Two hours later, I found myself on the boardwalk drinking Moose’s favorite, Red Bull and vodka.The drunker I got the more I thought, “Don’t do it. He’s got a busted face, a gold pepper necklace and highlights. His chest hair will prick you, he hasn’t shaved it all weekend.”
I meandered over to the “Shooting Waters Clown Game” adjacent to the outdoor shot stand at Jenkinson’s beachfront bar. I stared at the hometown folks in their oversized Giants jerseys and halter-tops. I was almost envious of the couple next to me, shooting the clowns’ mouths and cursing when they didn’t win a large,stuffed pink panther. I don’t allow myself play those games because the prizes are too big for my cramped apartment, so it’s just a waste of a dollar I could put in a high-interest savings account.
Just as I was attempting to recall my total yearly interest in my spinning head, someone grabbed my ass. I turned around and Moose yanked me in and began French kissing me exactly the way I imagined he would: sloppily, drunk, smelling of vodka and stupidity. I loved every second of it. Five minutes later I was walking the boardwalk with Moose’s hand in my back pocket, sipping a hot pink cocktail out of a crazy straw, with the other drunk Jersey couples out that night.
“This is great,” I thought. “I could fall in love with Moose. I can’t wait to introduce him to all my friends. He can visit every weekend, New York’s not that far away.” Moose was just like me after all, if only I was a little dumber, a little tanner and less tightly wound. He was what I would have been had I never left Jersey. Moose had no rules.
We went back to the beach house, and continued making out by the side of the pool. Despite how things progressed, I stood my ground on not having sex with him. Having slept with a certain number of men by the time I graduated college, I made a rule not to go over that number. I would only recycle partners from the already established pool. Better to sleep with someone you now hate than have your number go up a digit. Considering this pact, I went for the alternative with Moose and gave him a blowjob on a lawn chair by the side of the pool.
I was forced to wake up bright and early the next morning because of the unbelievably loud snoring bellowing in through my window. I walked out of the house wondering whose old drunk father had passed out on the lawn. To my disdain, it was Moose. He had slept all night in that semen-soaked lawn chair. Staring at his busted, angelic face, amidst last night’s debauchery, I understood that caution was a better option.
I decided to give myself a baptism. I jumped in the pool and rose to the surface with one, clear, definite thought: I need to get the hell out of Jersey.
I threw all my things in my bag, applied a coat of SPF 30, put on a sensible sundress and hopped the next train back to Manhattan, my hair still smelling of chlorine. Moose would not be getting my phone number; we would not be keeping in touch. He would not be visiting me in NYC, and I would not be returning to New Jersey for quite some time.C
Margot Leitman is a comedian,writer and actress. She hosts the “Stripped Stories” reading series June 18 at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (307 W. 26th St.); 9:30, $5.