Congrats to Jen A. Miller, whose guide to the Jersey Shore was published ahead of schedule. Jen is asking readers to share their Jersey Shore memories. Here’s one from a few years back.
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At a counter down the shore, three adults debate the necessity of fluff.
On fries? Stuff dries like Elmer’s Glue, for cryin’ out loud. We don’t need it, not if they put it on top—
“Comes onna side,” mutters Lex Luthor, who gives us no choice. So we partake of the fluff, though it’s more than we need, and we continue to eat our way along the boardwalk. The rides are rolling, the rigged wheels are whirling, and strangely shaped people waddle past with pizza. Somewhere behind them is the ocean.
“Funny how little it changes,” says dad, getting philosophical. “Kids come here to goof around, and then they bring their own kids. It’s been that way for a hundred years.”
We browse: bandannas, frilly shirts, switchblade combs, and bowls of seashells shrink-wrapped for the shameless and the lazy. Everything reeks of sea salt and grease. Later, so will we, even when we’re hours away.
“If we bring your nephew up to visit,” mom says from behind her ice cream cone, “we’ll come here. They don’t have this in Louisiana.”
They sure don’t. I’ll show the boy his heritage: the tiki bar where his mom hung out and the skee-ball arcades where her boyfriends won a menagerie of stuffed animals, if not her heart. We’ll feed him real pizza and other native delicacies to teach the kid just why his uncle can stay here, scavenging like a seagull, watching metalheads-turned-family-men wander by, listening as old, familiar vowels rise and fall. Then maybe he’ll see what our home state can give him: his own rightful portion of fluff.