Ghosts in Winter

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

In the past, Jon and I have conquered drunken bowling on a number of occasions.  For some reason, the activity is just more fun when you are completely sloshed and don’t quite give a shit how many times your ball rolls down the gutter.  It’s not about how many strikes you can get or how good your score is, and the main thing to keep in mind is that you are there to have fun.  Laugh at yourself  because you are so damn drunk you can’t roll the ball straight and your best friend is talking shit.  Then he gets up and does worse than you, so there is more laughing while wondering how the  two of you are even functioning at the moment.

We have only begun to experience drunken mini-golf, but so far it is just as much of a riot.  It does not matter how many swings it takes to get that silly ball in its hole, or how many times you hit it off the green and have to go chasing after it.  Once the weather gets warmer, we shall be hitting up the outdoor courses and see how that goes.  We have played pool in the past, but seeing how we enjoyed these other activities whilst our livers swam in alcohol, we figured we would put it to the test.

First we decided to stop at a diner for some grub.  It seems we have not yet learned that going out to eat on a Friday night is not a good idea. Why?  People apparently have nothing better to do than go out to eat on a Friday night!  We had to wait for an hour just to sit at a table, and so I took my time in making a choice of what I wanted to dine on.  Figured that if I had to wait for my meal, I was certainly going to make sure I enjoyed it.  The food was pretty good, but nothing to write home about.

After that we rolled out to the pool hall, though drank whiskey for a while in the parking lot before stumbling inside.  Despite the fact that I do not play much, nor do I have the best of aim, I managed to win three games, though one was by default.  Jon says he let me win and that he was just having fun, because we both knew he could have hustled everyone in there.  He isn’t laughing like I am and I don’t even realize it, yet he still smiles as he escorts me back to the Chevy.

Not quite ready to go home, we made a stop at another diner for coffee.  Hilarity is also promised to ensue in such a place when one’s mind is steeped in liquor, as conversations are as varied as they come.  Only there can you go from talking about cars to sex to things you can buy on eBay without batting an eyelash.

It was snowing by the time we departed and headed home, hoping that there would not be too much when we woke the next day.

Unfortunately there was enough snow that the governor declared a state of emergency, which meant that the show we wanted to attend at Asbury Lanes that night was cancelled.  Undeterred, we bundled up and walked through bitter coldness to the grocery store, procuring enough items to make super fluffy French toast, thick cuts of bacon, alco-cocoa and plenty of popcorn to snack on while watching horror movies.  Though it was not the evening we had planned, I always enjoy Jon’s company and did not mind spending it indoors for a change.

The day after we were attacked by the white doom, what else was there to do than go to the beach?

Waking up to see that snow had fallen overnight, blanketing everything around us in white, Jon wrapped his arm around my shoulder and with a smile on his face proclaimed that we were going for a drive.  In the past we have been to Coney Island after it has snowed, and I captured some of the most beautiful images in my collection of the frozen amusement area.  Once I went while it was snowing for the explicit purpose of taking photos, which resulted in white globs scattered among the Cyclone.  This time we would be going to our other favorite playground, the one that has been long neglected though we always seem to enjoy ourselves.  My mom took us to Asbury Park once and what I remember most is thinking “What happened to this place?” as we passed by one abandoned building after the next.

Of course I make it no secret that I am entirely addicted to the beach, though being able to come visit Jon whenever I want helps quench that constant urge to be smelling the ocean.  As much as I enjoy having a sandy backyard, there are miles and miles of coastline we have yet to explore.  The places I have been are eternally etched in memory and there is always a sense of comfort each and every time I go back.  Hitting the beaches during off-season prevents us from being annoyed to death by jarheads, guidos and bennys.  It is so much better when you can just stand there and watch the ocean in peace, fingers intertwined with the one you love.

After filling up on coffee and bundling in layers, we piled into the Chevy and prepared to face terrible conditions.  Instead we discovered that the roads had been somewhat plowed but not all that deadly, so Jon had no problem navigating along narrow pathways to the highway.  The scenery we passed was quite breathtaking, as all trees were perfectly dappled with snow, as was the ground.  It was then I realized this was the first time we were heading to Asbury in the daylight hours, as we usually traveled at night and there is not much to look at then.  Seeing the Garden State blanketed in shimmering white flakes before the sides of roads get murky and the snow turns black is something that I really enjoyed.

People were still digging themselves out when we arrived in town, carefully traversing the slippery road as the sidewalk was nowhere to be found.  It seemed they had gotten significantly more coverage than we did but Jon skillfully steered the Chevy through the snow and ice, passing by all the scraping shovels and safely guiding us into parking spot.  We sit there smoking a blunt and contemplating whether or not we want to eat these brownies that are supposedly full of potent mushrooms.  Since it has been a while since we did that sort of thing I wondered why he felt now would even be appropriate to suggest.  Then we are chewing and drinking whiskey to get them down without gagging because the taste comes through the deceptive chocolate facade.

Exiting the Chevy, Jon takes my arm and keeps a firm hold on me as we wander around.  The meanacing Metropolis hotel had deadly icicles dangling from its roof, as though they were meant to be impending weapons of death ready to impale any trespassers.  For some strange reason someone was slowly shoveling the sidewalk around it and we both wondered aloud what the point was when no one would be going in or out of it.  Then he jokes that perhaps it was so the ghosts would have access for when they party there at night.

The sight of the snow-covered beach can hardly be described in words, and there is something about the expanse of glaring white that dares to touch the pounding surf that I found incredibly beautiful.  The sun was starting to set, dazzling pink and orange leaking into the almost clear blue sky.  The sun was angled just right so that it danced among the decaying casino, lighting up the nature preserve that lay inside.  We took notice of some new wood that boarded up any possible means of entrance. However,  there was also a door that seemed loose, and when I glanced down in the snow, there was a mark that indicated it could be open.

My heart was suddenly racing, as I had wanted to get a glimpse of the interior of that derelict casino ever since I had my first peek.  Jon pried the door back and I stuck my head in as much as I could.  Again at I am at a loss of words, and how I wish I had remembered my camera so I could have taken some pictures.  The floor was a sheet of white with footprints, though whose they were I can’t say for sure.  The left wall was covered in graffiti, though I don’t recall what any of it said.  In all honesty, I was too taken back by the decayed hanging lamps and the detailed ceiling.  For a brief moment, I could picture the days of old when the casino was swinging, ladies and gentlemen dressed in their finest, smoking, drinking and gambling to their heart’s content.

We decided to casually wander away before anyone saw us; not that there were other people there, of course.  Drinking warm whiskey from his retro thermos, we sat on the snow covered sand to watch the sunset.  The colors became more intense as the sun sank lower and lower, the roar of the ocean providing the perfect ambiance to fill in the silence between our awkward breathing.  We have witnessed this grand display of Nature numerous times, and while no two have ever been the same, they all leave me speechless.  Huddled together and fighting off the numbness that was threatening various parts of our body, I felt as though we could have sat there slowly freezing to death in complete happiness.

Several hours later night has come and Jon is lifting me up while trying to keep himself steady as well.  He is laughing and I think I am too; our limbs have fallen asleep and feel like lead as we amble back to the Chevy.  Warm air rushes into my face lights from the highway flicker past, and I am so glad that I have such a damn good friend in my life.

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