really, no labor anywhere around here
The Night Before
Hi. I leave tomorrow morning, but I thought it’d be a good idea to go out and have some fun before I leave. I mean, it’s Friday night, right? I’m just going to go out and have some dinner and drinks with my friends, dammit, because I like my friends.
See you soon,
Day One (Morning)
So, the phone rang and woke me up this morning. I got all mad, shouting, “Who calls at six-thirty in the morning?” After answering the phone, I shouted into the darkness of the house, “SHIT!” which alerted the other two inhabitants that not only had we missed our alarm, but our cab was waiting outside the apartment. Much shuffling, stuffing and “cleaning” and we were on our way. Miraculously, we didn’t miss either cab or flight.
Because I had gotten up with such a start, I couldn’t fall asleep on the plane. Eric went out immediately, but wasn’t feeling very well. He, in fact, felt so bad that he left his CDs on the plane when we left for our connection. I’m hoping someone was nice enough to find them and bring them to lost and found. But for right now there’s a few less Built to Spill songs playing in the living room.
The South Carolina Airport is the smallest thing I’ve ever seen. I should just send this off here, before I get too wrapped up in all of the things to do at the beach house. I’ve never really done this before. One time we all stayed at a beach house in Galveston. It was a lot of fun. We did lots of drinking and then we went out to restaurants and clubs. I hope wherever we’re going has a Karaoke bar.
See you when I’m tan,
Day One (Evening)
I don’t know if you’re ever going to get this letter, but if you do, it means that I’m somehow still alive. Take any precaution to find me immediately.
Okay. This place? They like to call it “remote.” Let me tell you what “remote” means. “Fucking scary.”
Dude. On the drive in? Which is, like, an hour away from the airport? We saw two naked men sitting cross-legged under their house. The house on wheels. In the two-foot space under the house. In the mud. They were covered in mud. As we passed that trailer, a man came bumbling out of the next one with his shirt off and his hand scratching a tummy, as if he was thinking, “I think I hear some fancy tires comin’!”
To keep our wits as we were driving to certain doom, we passed the time by coming up with other horribly close-minded epithets about swamp trailer people, including, “Why’s your woman wearing her good teeth to the store?” and “Ooh! Someone’s figured out shoelaces!” We figured we were already going to hell anyway.
We found the house. There are no sheets. No towels. No soap. No pillowcases. No clocks. Eric said, “Haven’t you ever been to a beachhouse before? What did you expect?” Every time I had been to a beach house it was like an enclosed condo/resort thing where there were towels and food. Eric knew that we were going to an empty house, but “forgot” to have us pack any comforts from home. Our next stop? The “Piggly-Wiggly,” which is the supermarket of small town life. There was another “Grocery” down the street, which boldly called Piggly Wiggly a “Dirty little store,” but the Piggly Wiggly was right next to our house, which seemed like a good thing.
I tried to get an Internet connection. The operator laughed at me. I tried using my cell phone. They hadn’t heard of “roaming” at this swamp place. I called the agency that owned the building. He said, “For a…. commmm…pooo….ter?” and I shrieked and hung up.
Channel 8 of the television was the local news ticker. Since they had run out of news ten years ago, it was merely the logon screen for the Commodore 64 system they had running. I’m not kidding.
I pulled myself into a little ball and shivered in the corner of my salt-smelling shower. I tried to figure out how I was going to bust out of this 1954 prison.
I ended up using a calling card to make an internet connection, programming in thirty-six numbers and pauses for the computer to make to call charleston, SC and connect to the local excite service.
I’m sure it was $30/five minutes.
Swimming- good. Eric’s friends- good. Trying to find something to eat? Impossible. The one restaurant was booked through sunday, closed for labor day on monday, and as we were soon to learn: everything was closed on Tuesdays. We were there until Wednesday.
We ended up at a seafood place that didn’t sell seafood unless it was fried where i had a twenty dollar steak that tasted like i bought it at the school cafeteria.
I reenacted a scene from Dawson’s Creek sitting on the dock of some restaurant, because I realized we were in one of those towns that teenage girls worry that they’ll never get out of.
I think maybe I was crying that evening? I can’t remember. The booze. The booze.
Then came the storm, the nightly attraction of the beach city. There was nothing left to do but play board games, which, thankfully, we didn’t have to try and buy.
Oh, you think you can just go out and buy crab, do you? Just because you watch crab boats and shrimp boats and you’re on a fishing island, you think you can just walk up to a seafood market and buy yourself crab? Well, you’re wrong. Because, see, you’re at Something-something Island, Pop. Fuck Off, and they don’t want your filthy big city money.
Their Motto: Try not to fucking bug us.
We spent three hours trying to find seafood. There are two streets in Nowhere Land. The people on one side of the street pretend they don’t know any of the shop on the other side of the street. Yes, shop. Singular. The guy at the seafood place (where the non “Dirty Little Store” girls sent me (“They’re across the street from the Condoms where y’all stay at”)) told me that there were no crabs sold on the island anymore because his son just went off for college, and he’s the only boy who knows how to catch crab.
Here’s how you get yourself some crab in this two-street town.
You scoff in his face, and storm out after buying some shrimp, yelling that his big giant whiteboard full of “today’s catches” was the “Big Board of Lies.” You question how he’s got such a big board when he’s told you and your friends that you can only get shrimp, in just one size, and that he’s out of crab, crab legs, snow crab, blue crab, small shrimp, medium shrimp, large shrimp, snapper, oysters, clams, and flounder. When you ask how you might be able to eat crab at the island, he doesn’t even bat an eyelash when he says, “Catch ’em yourself.”
You pout until you’ve driven even further, and a woman in front of the pizza place tells you that the market guy must be a liar because she used to work there, and his son isn’t dependent on crabs. You enter the pizza place for help, and the woman behind the counter tells you that “You can’t get crab on this island.” She says that all crab caught is immediately sold to the restaurants that won’t take you because they’re all full.
You look threatening and you, in fact, have heard of another market, and want directions. The surprised woman lies and gives you the wrong directions.
Person two that you’ve cornered suggests the first place with the lying fisherman. He also gives you the wrong directions.
Couple three honestly point in two different directions at the same time. Seeing that they’ve been caught in their web of lies, they give you the right directions.
There is no live crab. There is only shrimp and Alaskan crab legs, frozen, and just like you get at a Red Lobster. You buy them out of spite. You can’t get live crab on the island, they tell you, as live crabs skitter over their feet behind the counter.
The meal you and your friends prepare that night makes up for any bad food you’ve had so far on the island. You’re much better cooks and the company is wonderful. You don’t even mind when the giant storms come rushing in, creating a storm on the water that George Clooney would get misty over.
That’s you, anyway. I was fucking terrified, as I am so afraid of lightning.
I realize that I’m a big city girl and I like big city vacations where I’m in a town with things to do and people to see and running hot water and toilet paper and beds with blankets and no big giant bugs. I don’t think it’s too much to ask, really.
My skin is nice from the salt in the water. Except for that one zit that formed under my nose. I think that’s because this town makes my nose run.
I watch the storm until we’re tired, and I go to sleep.
I quickly check the computer before I do, though, and log off before the storm can kill the machine.
We went into the Big City and did some shopping. Whee! Even the coffee guy in Charleston was like, “Ew. That’s a really ‘remote’ area.”
Ate dinner in Charleston, drank in Charleston, bought a bomber jacket in Charleston. Yay, big city life. Even though Charleston seemed to be sort of a poor man’s New Orleans, the change from desolate to touristy was a welcome one. And they were playing a Beatles marathon on the radio station! That’s right! The one station! All Classic Rock, because it’s never the present time in that area!
People keep asking if I’m having a good time. I am. I’m just amazed at how some people want to “get away” by cutting themselves off from all civilization.
Spoiled by the big city, full of silly hopes and dreams,
Day Four (I’m home soon!)
No phone service anymore, for some reason. We can’t get a number out. I wake up with the following sentence: “I hope they’ve got fried chicken again for the blue plate special down at the Pavilion. Are we still planning on drinking at Coot’s Lounge tonight? Y’all hungry?”
I can see the fear in Eric’s eyes.
More swimming, more raining, but we watched so many dolphins swim right in front of our house that I didn’t mind at all. We decide the home-cooked meal works better, so we go down to the Pig and pick up some food. I think the rest of the day went “swim, eat, drink, nap, eat, drink, games, games, games, watch the water, drink, eat, drink, sleep.”
There was a glorious hour of watching The Facts of Life on television. My right ear is still completely filled with water.
Now that it’s the last day, there seems to be this sense of everyone just getting settled and used to the empty Townie life. I have a brief moment where I realize I’m being punished for all of the teasing I had done in the Young Americans recaps.
I fall asleep earlier than I have in like, three years.
Today Happy to be home. Glad I went and met the people closest to Eric before I met him. I’m slightly tan, mostly waterlogged, and now own a new/old bomber jacket. Reading email and going through the forum. I’m not on vacation again for a while, which for some reason, I’m not too upset about. I’m watching television while online while drinking a Diet Coke. Oh, how glorious. Have a good time, E., on the rest of your trip. Come home soon, and come home safely. I love you and miss you already. Did you find your CD’s? I never saw you at your gate before my plane took off. -p