“Tell me do ya wanna, can you really take the drama, of a Jerseylicious girl like me? I am crazylicious, I am superlicious, I’m the Jerseylicious girl you need!”
First of all, here’s where I recommend that all other theme songs just throw in the towel – this kind of magnificence only happens once. But secondly, there’s some profundity lurking in there among the made-up words and ear-bleeding house beat. We Jersey folk are special, and we know it (and no – I’m not making air-quotes around the word “special”). I mean, how many other States have multiple reality shows devoted solely to the antics of their hair salons, beaches, bakeries, housewives, and Cosa Nostra underworld? None, I tell you. Not one. (By the way, ’tis a gross miscarriage of Nickname Justice that the best ones always go to the MTV miscreants – I refer, of course, to “The Situation:” the Rolls Royce of nicknames – especially when the best I ever did was “Laverne 2000” after a brief mid-90s flirtation with monograms and sassy backtalk.) But I digress – we are Jerseyans. We’ve seen things. We’ve done things. We’ve smelled things. When life or love (or the law) drives us across state lines in any sort of permanent capacity, we are, many of us, lost.
I’ve lived a lot of other places in recent years, some more hospitable than others. I’ve lived where, during huntin’ season, one’s crucial accessory is not a tramp-stamp or Christian Louboutin hooker boots, but a safety-orange Elmer Fudd hat. So’s not to get shot and all. (And while we’re on the subject of Michigan, I just have to say that despite being strongly in favor of equal-opportunity-everything, I still have this nagging little feeling that giving blind people hunting licenses is in no one’s best interest. Except maybe the deer’s.) I’ve lived in places where the discovery of human shit on my property was routine, as was the occasional errant moo-cow. I’ve lived places where I’ve gone a week without seeing another human, and have had to wonder (hypothetically, of course) how much one would have to talk to one’s self before one’s talking to one’s self might cause one to be considered “bananas.” I’ve been imprisoned for days by End-Times Weather and enticed by tiny ghost-twins to come and play with them forever. And ever. And ever. I’ve lived where octogenarians are driven to assault one another over a bag of ice during hurricane season – where elbows sweat and 24-hour curfews are enforced until the “Snake Situation” is under control. I’ve lived where people routinely and without irony use words like “Dag-nammit.” I’ve had to wait in line at gas station restrooms behind bands of prairie-clad Sister Wives while their collective husband (singular) gassed up the tricked-out minivan and stocked up on canned goods. I’ve spent actual time devising plans to scare away earnest missionaries come to save my sorry soul – plans which usually involve alcohol, obscenities, and ritual virgin sacrifice…shit, maybe they’re right.
The fact is, I am quite ill-prepared to handle my Jersey Fury outside state lines. Bird flipping, high-volume profanity, and making “offers one can’t refuse” don’t seem to be effective strategies in the Lesser States. I am a veritable fish out of water almost everywhere I go (or, as I like to think of it, an anchovy out of its extra-virgin) and have little grasp on Who I Am and How To Be. I mean, at Home? There’s no call to “Forgive those who trespass against us.” One simply goes outside with one’s baseball bat and says, loudly and with gestures, “Why don’t you come up here and say that to my face, old man!” At Home, one’s Holiday Spirit is not nearly whole without gridlock, angry shoppers, and perilous parking-lot aggression. I can say with some authority that a New Jersey local has never found herself in line at a craft store on “cue-pon day,” silently begging God to kill her. At Home, it’s never more than a 5 minute drive to the Perfect Slice or some decent deli. At Home, when you need something taken care of – whether it be a simple paint job or something more, um, permanent – everyone’s Got a Guy. And everyone understands that when your friend tells you they’ve Got a Guy, you don’t ask questions. Jersey Grudges are nurtured loudly and lovingly and are almost always temporary (exception: Bad Blood. Bad Blood is forever.). At Home, Mall = Mecca.
So do you see, friends? Do you see why, in these kinder and gentler places, I find myself at sea? No matter where I go that is not Home, I am a stranger in a strange land – where slow drivers (which obviously enrage me) do not throw Slurpees out the window or make the finger-across-the-throat gesture when you give them a show of your finely honed Road Rage – they simply move out of the way or, God forbid, give a small, sincere, sorry-wave. Where people open doors and step aside and give up seats for others. I mean, what am I supposed to do with this? Blend? Myriad times I have found myself in the company of Those Less Coarse after a routine display of my Regional Inappropriateness as they titter nervously and resort to their banal choruses of “You can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can’t take the Jersey out of the girl…”
And to them I say, always, “Why the F*CK would you want to?”
By this time I imagine many of you are wondering HOW on earth a delightful gal like me, Misanthropista, could still be single. (That’s right. Delightful.) It’s not “still” so much as “again.” I was married once. OK, fine, twice. Whatever, judgy.
My first husband was actually a lovely, kind boy who was simply and unexpectedly in over his head. For most of the 358 days we were married, I was either in bed, the hospital, or a Vicodin haze as I began what would become a 5 year battle with Acute Lyme Disease. Poor kiddo. Sickness and health was not supposed to be NOW. He tried, he really did. He was awfully kind when he was home with me – he was just never actually home with me. While his teenage-y social life raged on like a prom-night kegger, I was at home dying. The paralysis, memory loss, and excruciating pain of my illness did not make me a Very Understanding Wife, and I started to leave in my mind long before my body could muster the strength to do it. Then 9/11 happened and as I watched my friends and loved ones disintegrate and rain from the sky on live television, it all became very clear. It took me another month to go – funerals and memorials and vigils filled the days and weeks that followed. Then, nothing. And I left.
I had only one actual relationship between husbands (the tale of Husband Number Two is an abomination unto itself, and will require alcohol and probably restraining orders to tell. But I will, I promise. Someday.), and that was supposed to be It. We were star-crossed from Moment One, and immediately began a gut-wrenching long-distance relationship which would ultimately lead us both to relocate in great dramatic fashion just to “be together.” This boy ignited my heart and stole my sleep and tangled my insides in a way that I had never felt before and certainly haven’t since. It was Love Like You Read About, and I HAD TO HAVE IT. I dropped everything, sold my beloved soul-house, left my family and friends behind and went off on my heart’s own Odyssey.
Onnnnly problem was (which took me a year to figure out), Dude was a raging porn addict with serious Mommy Issues. Eight years my junior, emotionally asphyxiated and so, so broken. But I persevered! I loved him! I would See It Through! We even looked forward to the day that he was “cured” so we could have T-shirts made up saying “I Had A Porn Addiction, And I Beat It.” (Yep, that was all me. Thank you, thank you.) But then (then!) shit got weird. The soulless dolphin-flogging escalated and he spun out of control in every direction, scattering the shrapnel of our life together and breaking everything he touched (except, well, *that.* *That* proved quite sturdy.). He ultimately left me one morning 2 years later with the following announcement: “It’s not me. It’s you. I believe that you’re not good enough for me and that I can do better.” Riiiiiiiiiiight, buddy. Good luck with that.
After a suitable period spent wallowing in his lingering emotional toxins and disinfecting all of my keyboards, I reluctantly entered the Match.com Years. I know it has its virtues, friends – I’ve seen the commercials! But for me it felt like plunging naked into a bubbling cauldron of Lies, Vanity, Snakes, and Someone Else’s Diarrhea. I did it though – I HAD to, my friends said. They wanted me to be happy. Mostly I think they saw the inherent entertainment value in my suffering, but whatevs. My crusade to find Love, Millenium Style led me through the war-torn landscape of middle-aged Starting-Overs seeking “Best Friends,” Younguns seeking MILFs, Douchebags seeking Models, Strippers Seeking Doctors, and Me, Seeking Someone Who Could Spell. It also resulted in more grainy penis-photo emails from Proud Owners than anyone should ever have to see. I suppose it’s kinda sweet that they thought that might help, yes? No? No. It may not be necessary to mention that this Romantic Jihad resulted in lots of first dates. And not one single second.
A sampling of my deviant suitors, for your enjoyment and in no particular order:
Tearful Todd, who cried at dinner and Only Ate Shrimp. Todd couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t “let him love me” and expressed concern during his shrimp appetizer that his striking resemblance to Keith Urban was hindering his search for True Love. The “ladies” only seemed to want him for his good looks, not his fathomless, dreamy soul. I explained that indeed, I was probably one of those “ladies” and left him crying in his shrimp dinner. Check, please.
Earnest Ponytail Poetry Guy wrote me a “song” on a napkin that had been smudged with some kind of gravy, and handed it to me triumphantly, explaining that my beauty had “taken him somewhere” and the words just poured out of him like holy wine. I don’t remember much about the song now except that it contained the phrase “elbow grease.” Also, it contained actual grease. From the gravy. On the napkin. Someone, please: F*cking shoot me.
Next came Joe, who offered up a quite refreshing package in comparison to most of my other one-dates. Handsome, charming, chatty, intelligent, even a little funny! Joe gave me hope that this was not my personal armageddon, after all, and I thought, hmmm – if HE asks me out again I will say yes. And ask he did – triumph! – even offering up *another* package to sweeten the deal…this one significantly less refreshing. Indeed, somehow Joe’s clammy junk ended up being thrust into my unsuspecting grip during a chaste hug-shake (you know, the awkward hug/handshake hybrid?) which has, to this very day, drastically altered my trust level when extending my hand to anyone, ever. I’ll never un-feel Joe’s Junk. Like a ghost limb…but with Junk. (“Ghost Junk” Copyright Misanthropista 2012).
For brevity’s sake, I’ll wrap things up with a list of the swains whose catchy monikers endured long past the horror of my 12-ish minutes with each of them: Pretentious Tongue-Smacking Wine Snob; Mr. Doesn’t Know He’s Gay Yet, Guy Who Asked If He Might Borrow My Car Overnight, Forgot my Wallet(s) 1-7, Stalker Stephan (pronounced Stef-ON), One-Tooth, Sir “Does The Carpet Match the Drapes?” and a gentleman known simply as “Backne.”
There were others, dear friends. Most of whom never made it to the first date due to calamitous grammar crimes or aforementioned penis jpegs. OH, yes, there were others. However, high upon the Royal Float in my parade of stunning romantic flame-outs sits a fellow who will forever be known, victoriously, to me and my trusty confidantes only as Taco Toe. Yes, he did exactly what it sounds like he did. And no, I did not see it coming. He was very limber. And had spectacular aim.
Yeah, so – that happened.