Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Mystery on the Beach

In a very nice Northern California coastal town called Capitola, my boyfriend Alex and I went to a club called Margaritaville. I was only 22 in 1987 so the thought of going to a club at the coast seemed like something Molly Ringwald might do, so I was in.

I had this sweet little halter dress made of army green cotton with a big wide belt to accentuate my tiny waste. I wore my favorite pale pink pumps that I bought on one of my last credit cards before they all got cancelled after my separation from my husband. My earrings were two and a half pounds each, a la’ Paula Abdul. I put on extra hair gel and cheap hair spray so that I would make a grand entrance at a nose bleeding 6’2” height, which is 5’9” tall + 3” heels + 2” of vertical hair. I had a few drinks before we even started off for the hour drive. I had lots of self-confidence when I left my apartment, but I was definitely thirsty for some more by the time we got to Margaritaville.

We drove up in my 1979 Datsun 210. Its paint job in its last life had probably been a vibrant red, but now, after years humiliation, it was trying to slowly become invisible one shade at a time, finally fading into the color of a toilet plunger. My mom bought me the car for $750 after I totaled my last car. It was really generous of her, but I couldn’t get past the roof lining that had separated from the roof and continuously rested on my head. I would keep sticking the fabric onto the old gummy roof and in 15 minutes it would start touching my head again, slowly getting lower and lower until it looked like I was wearing a giant grey water bottle on my head.

By the time we got there, some of the shine had worn off my “woo hoo” attitude and I began to feel the real sense of me. The poor single mother with no prospects and a rubber hammock resting on the top of my spikey, fluffy hair. Nonetheless, Alex was always trying to impress me with what little he had. He would always get the car door for me, which is just silly when you’re getting out of a car with all the class of a cigarette butt floating in a stale beer.

I sauntered, yes positively glided up the front door of Margaritaville and could hear the Huey Lewis and the News blasting from inside. Just then the dread started to set in so hard I couldn’t ignore what was to come. I could sense without even opening the door that this would not be my crowd. My crowd was at the Green Lantern – a shithole bar with a shuffle board, juke box, and an old upright piano which I’d play after I got totally drunk. I don’t know how to play anything except a Boogie Woogie kind of song that my mom taught me so that I’d learn how to use both hands. Whenever someone would try and stop me, I'd say "Now I have to start all over again!"

No, Margaritaville would offer no comfort to me. At the Green Lantern you’d find El Caminos, Ford Fiestas, and a Country Squire with bald tires. But parked along the beautiful winding scenic streets of Capitola there were BMWs and Porches. Alex opened the heavy swinging wood door for me and I tried to maintain my confidence but I immediately felt my shoulders sag and my feet fell into a self-conscious shuffle.

Everyone there knew each other, or at least that’s what it felt like. There were beautiful blonde girls with toasted almond tans and Heather Locklear teeth chatting exuberantly with Calvin Klein underwear models. They could smell my funk and I could taste their success. I hated them so much that I wanted to be just like them. But that would never happen because rich people look different. They’re born that way and it doesn’t matter how much money you spend on trying to look just like them, they’ll sniff you out and recoil at your averageness.

There was only one place for me in this club, the bar. This is where I could reconnect with my self-esteem, or at least pass out trying.

Later on that night, after sitting at the bar with Alex for a couple of hours with our eyes darting around to watch the Lovely People, trying to chit-chat and laugh as if we were in on some kind of interesting conversation, I finally gave up. “Fuck it, let’s get out of here!” I slurred loudly at Alex and dragged him outside. Being the welcome mat boyfriend that he was, he just went along with whatever I wanted.

We headed down to the beach only footsteps away, but I was too drunk to walk in my heels anymore so Alex would carry them for me. He would just follow behind my staggering steps picking up my dropping personal items. First my shoes, then my wide belt, then my earrings, then my dress.

By the time we got to the beach, I was drunk and naked because those two things go hand-in-hand. If you’re going to be naked on the beach in Northern California, you really should be drunk because unlike Southern California beaches ours drop down to a bone chilling 12 degrees with windchill at night. The beach was empty and dark but the moon was full. I rolled around in the sand and ran up and down the shoreline while Alex watched. I was crazed with freedom. But then I decided to take a little swim and again unlike the Southern beaches, our water is freezing and dangerous so I opted for a swim in a watery hole that had been filled from many a high tide night. We could see the restaurant patio diners eating dinner, which I suppose meant that they could see me.

I tried to be very sexy and mysterious but even Alex, who would do anything I asked, would not skinny-dip on the beach. But I was full of courage and vodka and simply insisted on it. I slowly walked into the little pool of water. The water was warm enough to swim in so I dove in and splashed around, making a ruckus and singing to the music from the club above me. But as I romped around I started to notice some dark splotches on my arms. I could wipe them away with water but then they’d come back after another dip. I was starting to smell something that was like a cross between ammonia and seaweed. I walked up to the shallow part to look at my whole body which, by then, was covered in these dark spots and they were quite slimy.

Then I recalled when we first arrived at the romantic swimming hole that there had been some large aquatic birds swimming around in it. Like geese or pelicans or something? I couldn’t quite remember, but that would explain the warm smelly slimy things all over my naked wet body … Shit! I was covered in shit. I screamed and ran from the water but had nothing to clean myself off with so I threw back on my cute little halter dress which then clung to me like green wet toilet paper. My hair was matted and smelly and horrible. My eyeliner was running down my face, I was sure, and I had unfortunately sobered up.

We walked back up to the street and passed all the pretty people in the clubs, dining in the restaurants, and sitting in their German cars. They’d gawk at the horrible barefoot peasant in the shit covered dress with her man-servant carrying her knock-off purse and pale pink pumps. I threw up outside the car and then got in the passenger seat for the long ride home.

You see, this is difference between rich people and poor people; a rich person would have had a towel.


  1. You made me laugh till I choked on my chips and they came out of my nose - owwww! (and I'm really bitchie so that wasn't easy)

  2. brava....brava! that was an amazingly spun tale that took me right back to when headbands were cool. You can really paint an image

  3. tortilla chips, not soft potato ones - luckily no salsa, that would have really hurt my nose

  4. Dear Anonymous - Are you telling me that headbands are out?

  5. i mean the ones that we used to wear in a flash-dance-esque style on our foreheads. and, yes, queenie, they are out. i do expect a comeback, though, since i have been seeing leg warmers making appearances. they do go hand in hand:)

  6. yay me! i finally reset my password and can post again

  7. Dear Gina,

    We've all missed you. Glad you're back!

  8. oh, I've been here. just posting as anonymously as you.

  9. What a fantastic post to read on my first visit to your world! I enjoyed every word of it and I will never forget the lines below.

    Oh, remember shoulder pads?

    "They could smell my funk and I could taste their success.

    "They’d gawk at the horrible barefoot peasant in the shit covered dress with her man-servant carrying her knock-off purse and pale pink pumps."

  10. Here's a little gem I learned in my days as a banker. As a general rule, the richer they were, the more miserable they were as human beings.

    Seems so strange from the outside looking in, but it was so, so true. They probably envied that you were out on the beach running around naked.

    Great post.

  11. Capitola - that brings back the days. Lunch on the dec at Zelda's and partying at Margaritaville afterwards. But swimming in that backwater tide pool next to the bar. Brrrrrr. That scares me just to think about it. It's just to bad you didn't cross paths with my friends and I - we could have made fun of everyone else in there.

  12. OMFG! I thought I was going to die from laughter. That was fantastic!

  13. GINA - How the hell did you know!

    AKILAH - Thank you for visiting. By the way, in my head I pronounce your name "Ahh ... Killa!" Like I was a Jamaican man smoking hash and exclaiming my approval.

    WEASEL - Yes, I'm always the envy of rich people. Always. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    LOWERCASE qUEEN - I can imagine skinny-dipping in cold water is a much more horrifying event for a man than a woman. You are wonderful - thank you for reading.

  14. "Like I was a Jamaican man smoking hash and exclaiming my approval."

    Sweet Jeebuz that was funny! LOL! Whenever my husband drops the A, he does say it kinda like Killa. Thank goodness we don't have dogs because they'd probably take it as "kill her" and attack my ass.


  15. Another great post, Sharon. I had a Datsun just like that, except it was older than yours, and it was turquoise. Bright, glowing turquoise, just like the links on this page. It's only advantage was that it was really easy to find when I was drunk. It has a special feature that you could turn the engine off by turning off the headlights. Thanks for the memory - I'm now very grateful for my 7-year-old Volvo Wagon.

  16. Sharon, this is my first log-in. Kathy forwarded. LOVE IT! I laughed a bit... but there was a unyeilding sense of shame as I read each sentence... I was thinking "Oh how I've been there too :-) Ugh!" You're teaching me how to laugh about it! Thanks for your fabulous spirit, humor and honesty. I'll be listening.


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