Down the Shore

We are heading to the shore today. Not the beach, the shore. I have taken every opportunity to tell anyone with ears that the Jersey Shore is the only place they call it ‘the shore’ and not ‘the beach’. What I expect when I tell a person this, is for them to rub their chin and gaze thoughtfully at the ceiling and an eventual head shake and something like ‘you got me, you’re right’.

But – and this should be mentioned directly – this doesn’t happen. What does happen, is the person looks at me as their memory snaps into gear. Then they say ‘Oh yeah, Jersey Shore. I hated that show’ followed by my soul being crushed.

The shore is a place of utter relaxation – or at least that’s what it claims. To some extent I have to agree as there’s nothing as soothing for the soul and mood than looking out at a wide ocean. Well, nothing legal anyway. However, what the shore doesn’t take into account is that I will looking into that ocean with my family. And, as we all know, your family has the owner’s manual to YOU and, more precisely. YOUR BUTTONS and HOW TO PUSH THEM.

Learning the trade is the newest addition to the family – a 3 year old girl whose name will never leave me because in the 20 days I’ve been here it’s been said aloud by various kids and adults roughly 290,391 times. I will call her Barry. I have learned many lessons in the last weeks. For instance, in no way should you ever say the words chocolate, ice cream, chocolate milk, or water ice near the child unless you have them behind your back and are ready to hand it over immediately. If not, there is hell to pay. To many people.

I have also learned the truth behind the old axiom ‘sometimes you do everything right and you still lose’. What do you say to a 3 year old named Barry when you see her? I figured ‘hi’ would be a safe bet. And I figured wrong.


A level of wailing and shrieking that would suggest that instead of saying hi I had indeed begun sawing her in half with a butter knife.

And then I get in trouble.

This happens a lot. I say hi and get shrieks. I ignore the child and get shrieks. I make eye contact (big mistake) and got something bad, but I can’t remember because I blacked out. She begins playing with me and I play back. Mistake. Wails. Tears. Shrieks.

You get the picture.

Life is not fair.

But here’s the thing – I’m not unconvinced that she’s doing this on purpose. She handed me a toy lobster and then began shrieking leaving me holding the lobster. My mom and sister came in and I am holding a lobster and the 3 year old (Barry) is pointing and shrieking. I tried to explain, but my laments fell upon deaf ears. As she was assisted out of the room she gave me a smile.

‘Well played, Barry.’

Shriek. Shriek.

As payback, I made sure I was in earshot and then enjoyed a chocolate milk more vocally than I had any other activity in the last thirty years. The shrieks were delicious. But the neighbors thought we were watching an internet video of ill repute.

This is the shore that awaits me. Mortal combat between me – a productive member of society – and a 3 year old – a non-tax-payer, who can’t mow the lawn.

I am packing the lobster.

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