ShoreBilly's Swill on ShoreBread

I hope you all enjoyed last week’s Pony Tale. That story was just too much fun, and too weird not to share with you. I took a brief break from my role as the ranting, struggling bartender to tell you about that. I have to be honest with you all, my eight-year-old-daughter who was the star character in that story was reading over my shoulder as I wrote and I have to credit her with a couple of lines. So I guess in short, she sort of co-wrote that piece. A distinction I’m certain she will happily wash her hands of as she gets older. But I still bought her something cool to show my appreciation. Ironically enough, it was some sort of My Little Pony apparatus.

I’ve mentioned in previous articles that the summer of 2013 has been ‘forgettable’, for lack of better words. Or at least, that’s the most sugar-coated moniker I can apply to the summer that wasn’t. Now I’m not going to be a Debbie Downer, and I know I’m not supposed to deviate from portraying Ocean City and its surrounding cute little towns as rainbows, unicorns, and fluff. But I’m going to be brazen enough to throw a little honesty from a hard working guy on the front lines. Anyone who tells you how great this year was for them, either it’s their first season ever, or they’re lying to you.

If I happen to take a poetic dump on this summer, it’s got absolutely nothing to do with the town though. We’re not doing anything wrong. We’re not doing anything different. It just so happens that this was a crappy year. All of the factors going against us however were completely beyond our control. It was just the perfect storm of misfortune that made 2013 derail a bit. First and foremost, my long time nemesis Mother Nature played a much greater role in this season than any of us wanted her to. She and I have been at odds ever since I got struck by lightning when I was younger. That’s a story for another day, but yes, it happened. I don’t know exactly what I did to piss her off, but it’s been kind of a running theme between us for a long time. I just wish she wouldn’t take out her disdain for me on my friends and family.

Let’s see, there was absolutely no spring at all. It essentially just rained for three solid months. So we lost the golf season, the spring breakers, and virtually all of the holiday weekends that fall between Valentine’s Day and Independence Day. Not exactly the ideal kick off to a lucrative summer.

The rain finally stopped, and it got really hot for about nine days. There had been, to this point, four different occasions in this calendar year for me to have both my heat and air conditioning on in the same 48 hour span. That can’t possibly be good for you. After those nine hot days, it got unseasonably cool, and pretty much just stayed that way for the rest of the year. As I write this, I do have every window in my house open and I’m comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I’d LOVE to have all of my windows open 365 days a year, but it’s August, and I’ve grown accustomed over the years here to being a bit on the warm side. Maybe I just need Al Gore to explain all of this to me. I’m certain that HE could make sense of this. And I’m pretty sure he’s got plenty of free time.

So with the state of our local weather situation this year, the really high temperatures never came and stayed for any length of time, and the ocean never warmed up to what we’ve been used to. It’s just not easy to lure travelers to a beach town where the water is cold and the sky is cloudy. Many of the normally lucrative weeks, or weekends, we found that those who had the luxury of reneging on their beach trip plans, did. And that’s where it hurt the most, the condo owners and upper echelon visitors who could back out last minute and stay home. In short, the climate unfortunately played a major role in the livelihood of us locals this summer.

Yet still, we remain undaunted and steadfast in what we do. I can’t speak for all of us, but I make a practice to not worry about things I can’t control. The weather most certainly falls into that category. So I go to work every day, clock in, put on the smile, and spend the next 10 hours or so providing meals, drinks, and entertainment to predominately strangers. Many of whom are already judging me because of the less than impressive career choice I’ve made.

So I suck it up, put on the happy face, and dumb myself down so I can carry on a conversation and make them feel superior to me. I stuff my IQ, vocabulary, and dignity into a metaphoric purple Crown Royal bag, tug the drawstring tight, and save it until late Sunday night when I get to sit down and write about my week. Through most of it, the vast majority of my clientele remain none the wiser. While the handful of them who not only get me, but know me by both identities, sit back and watch this column write itself. Always secretly thrilled about the fact that I don’t use names, but eagerly awaiting Tuesday.

As if the weather wasn’t a big enough factor in this season, then, you figure in the struggling economy. There’s always some moronic figurehead that hasn’t been in the trenches since they were a zit-faced fryer cook boy at KFC back when they were in middle school, standing on TV telling me how much better things are. Apparently, it hasn’t quite trickled down to the seasonal resort town, service industry folk yet. Nice to know I have something to look forward to in the coming years though. Fortunately for those of you reading this, I stick to the unwritten bartender rule about religion and politics, even when in Syd mode. Otherwise this would be just the start of a lengthy diatribe.

There are countless reasons affecting why this year was off. Unfortunately, it is always the absolute dumbest amongst us who are in a position to change any of it and usually also the last to notice. A multitude of various circumstances has also dramatically changed the demographic of people coming to visit our town and our beaches. It is monumentally different now. I won’t speculate as to whether it is good or bad, I’ll just say that the face of Ocean City has changed.

Another factor causing me to feed my family a lot of rice now stems from the already tragically flawed education system. I’m most certainly not talking about teachers, either. I have the absolute utmost respect and admiration for them. I’m referring to the skull jelly higher up on the educational food chain who believe that the way to fix everything is to just keep sending kids back to school a little earlier each year. Yeah, that will fix it all. It’s got nothing to do with the fact that we’ve become more concerned with self esteem than actually teaching. Remember the good old days, when Labor Day weekend was our busiest weekend of the year, and we all made a ton of money and went into the off season happy? I do, but now it’s nothing more than a good time to plan a wedding on the beach because everyone is gone. But hey, we’ll just keep sending kids back to school a little bit earlier each year until eventually, we’ve ruined Fourth of July weekend as well. That theory will continue to distract all of us from the systematic dumbing down of society and keep us pointing fingers in all the wrong directions. So brace yourselves my friends. We have a bright future of complete idiots with unjustly inflated self esteem running our once great country. Wait a minute,… it’s already started.

Back to the point at hand, I just think it’s a bit ridiculous to have our children go back to school in mid August so they can spend the first seven weeks or so of the year full of half days, three-day weekends, time off for holidays that no one even understands, and teachers’ meetings. It’s a bit frustrating to those of us who live in an area where the economy is based on the season running its full length. Here’s a concept for the Bored of Education (the spelling error was intentional by the way) to consider; give us back that last month of summer like it used to be. That will dramatically stimulate the state’s economy, and maybe we can put some of that money into education. Just a silly thought from a know-nothing bartender with limited schooling.

Thanks for playing along.

Until next week,

Syd Nichols