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Because I’m Sharp… Like A Ball-Peen Hammer.

My ideas are not always the brightest, as anyone who’s met me (or spent any time reading this here special cache of narcissistic drivel) can attest. Sometimes my ideas are downright daft… like tonight.

My friend and I had spent a pleasant, low key day working on a railing job he’s doing. We took a break for a while and got nice juicy burgers at John’s Fish Market, finished up for the day and went back to his house, where I promptly fell flat asleep for about an hour on his couch (yes, there is photographic evidence of said nap and no, he did not put my hand in hot water–now that’s a friend). When I woke from my little nap and he was done with the busywork he’d been doing while I was sleeping, I suggested we take a motorcycle ride to Menemsha to watch the sunset and get more greasy food. He was hesitant, citing the distinct possibility that there would be a lot of people there.

Now I’m not a huge fan of people, but he HATES people, particularly tourists. He’s got GO BACK TO NY written in the dust on the back of his pickup truck, and he routinely curses out total strangers in the street. Last week, he spit all over (and inside) an ostentatiously huge Land Cruiser in the Lucy Vincent parking lot (a well-deserved attack which was the result of a completely separate episode of assholery that I won’t go into).

But it’s Tuesday, I said to my friend. There shouldn’t be that many people there on a Tuesday. And it’s kind of cold.

Boy, was I wrong. Before we’d even parked the bike, my friend was so annoyed that he was revving the engine so that it spat out punctuation to his expletive-filled rants. There were people EVERYWHERE. The beach was a sea of assholes, most of whom were under the age of fourteen. My friend hates people in general, but he particularly loathes children.

This is your fault, he said. You suck.

We found what we thought would be a quiet spot far down the beach to watch the sunset, and dug ourselves into the sand. But the children found us. Within minutes, our little sphere had been invaded by miscreant youth, armed with frisbees and volleyballs and every other annoying airborne object you can imagine. And they were screaming. All of them. And the people sitting on blankets were talking loudly and laughing and shouting… it was like a fucking high school cafeteria. My friend got hit with an errant tennis ball and surprisingly did not remove the limb that had thrown it, although I did see the thought cross his mind when the boy bent down to retrieve the ball.

Right when the sun went down, all the people on the beach clapped. I knew they were going to–those people always do–but it still made me want to go around breaking their fingers at the middle knuckle. Why do they do that?! It’s like finger snapping at poetry slams, or fat people in skin tight clothing. It just shouldn’t happen, ever.

My friend heaved a loaded sigh. This would be really perfect if all of those people would just fucking DIE, he said. As if on cue, about six twelve year olds who were kicking around a volleyball started screaming in unison. I’m never listening to you again, my friend said.

As well you shouldn’t, I said. I obviously don’t have a fucking clue what I’m talking about.

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The Salt Girl’s Recipe For Professional Success

I’ve found, in my professional experience, that sucking up doesn’t work. Not that I’ve tried… I’ve just seen other people fail. Simply showing up on time and doing your job well doesn’t always do the trick either; if you’re too dependable, you may render yourself completely invisible.

Manipulation, however–if done correctly–can work brilliantly in one’s favor. But it has to be subtle, and smooth. Surprisingly, on occasion, I’m capable of being both.

Take, for example, my current situation. I work as a bartender in a restaurant owned by a guy who’s been a drinking buddy of mine for years. When I worked on the harbor and he owned a different restaurant down there, my coworkers and I used to refer to his bar as “the office.” We went there on our breaks, after work, and occasionally even before work. Our boss had a running tab for our restaurant pretty much constantly. This mutually beneficial relationship is how my current boss and I became friends. There’s a certain camaraderie among people who have the same batch of stresses and vices. Now, a few years later, he owns an upscale establishment quite different from the first one, and although he still has the same partner, he’s pretty much running it himself.

So he’s a bit of a shit show. And he’s predictable. He does expo for the dining room himself, and at about eight thirty or nine every night, as soon as the board is full of tickets and the dining room is full of guests, he has a bit of a meltdown. If it’s a weekend night or there are VIPs in the room, the meltdown can border on Oscar-worthy. The hair goes all askew, he starts pacing, and employees start hiding. Having come in with a bit of an advantage, however, I don’t hide. I don’t hide because I’m not scared–and I because I know the solution: a smile that belies the disaster going on around us, and a well-timed (and paid for out of my own pocket on occasion) shot of whiskey.

He’s usually so caught up in his freakout that the surprise of being stopped, smiled at and handed a glass of tasty beverage by an employee that is not in the least bit frantic or stressed out is enough to derail his unraveling entirely. He exhales, and a few minutes later, so does everyone else. Gradually, the ship rights itself and by the end of the night we’re all laughing it off. I am NEVER in the doghouse. It’s like Occam’s razor.

Below the owner on the totem pole is the general manager, who’s also a completely overworked, stressed out mess of a human being. He lives across the street from the restaurant and is on salary, which means that he couldn’t escape the place if he tried (and he tries). He’s the emergency contact, so he can’t really shut his phone off, and like every restaurant, something’s always going wrong. He has the added disadvantage of being terribly easy to locate. We’re understaffed, and it being the end of the season, half of our staff is underqualified or burned out and useless, so by nature of his position and proximity, he becomes stop-gap. He shucks, he cooks on the line, he hosts, he watches the door. He comes running if something goes awry–and something always goes awry. And he never fucking sleeps. He’s a testy little bastard most of the time, and people stay out of his way a lot and shit talk him the rest of the time. He doesn’t bother me–my friendship with the owner entitled me to special privileges (like smoking out back after the front door has to be closed and never paying for all of my drinks) long before I worked there, so once again, the intimidation factor was kaput.

Tonight, I was in the bar for the owner’s surprise birthday do (which didn’t happen because there was no one there to do damage control when his daily disaster hour struck and he stayed in a sour mood all night, which prompted the party’s organizers to postpone it). The manager was there looking wild-eyed and on edge as usual–he’s the most serious, high strung, and in my opinion completely unintimidating looking twenty-five year old I’ve ever met. A baby-faced blue eyed blonde who’s so tightly wound that he’ll probably grind out half of his teeth before his next birthday. And he doesn’t do coke.

After I’d been there for about half an hour, he called me aside. His manner was that of a scolding superior–a terse handwave and a beckoning into the dark dining room, away from prying ears. I thought for a split second that I was in “trouble”. I raised an eyebrow.

“No, no, no,” he said. He pulled me farther into the dining room and in a hushed whisper, he said, “Um… do you know where I can get any weed?” I suppose he figured he wouldn’t jeopardize his authority with me by asking, because we both know he never had any to begin with. One insomniac to another, I answered that yes, I happened to have a very good idea where some relief was located.

Ah, ha, I thought. And now I’ve got you under my thumb, too, Opie. And a free ride home to boot.

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The Hives That Blind

Today I got salty. In the ocean. For really real.

It was great except the part where my legs broke out in hives. Yeah. I was the dumbass that shaved my legs before going to the beach, knowing full well that the salt water was likely to irritate them. BUT, this was not normal salt-sting razorburn. These were hives. Little, irritated angry welts all down both of my legs, front and back, raised up like little bubbles. And nowhere else on my body, not even the other places I shaved this morning. I was a little stoned and quite surprised, as I’ve never broken out in hives other than from handling shellfish, which I’m allergic to, and I’ve heard causes skin reactions in people who aren’t allergic.

There was a momentary panic, as a few people wondered whether I’d been stung by a beastly jellyfish, and I wondered what the HELL was in the water that would have caused that reaction. One theory was even that I’d had a very fast and serious reaction to the poison ivy in the dunes. I’m not particularly sensitive to poison ivy, so I dismissed that one right away.

I stared pointedly at them for a few minutes, trying to decipher if they were getting better or worse or staying the same and it was so bright that my eyes started to go fuzzy from the effort. After about five minutes I stopped caring and went back to enjoying the beach. Twenty minutes later, the hives were gone. I went back in the water and they didn’t come back.

SO weird.

Other than that, it was the most amazing day at the beach that I’ve had in several years. It actually felt like a day off. It even looked at one point like there was going to be a serious thunderstorm (yay), so when we were leaving it was like a mass exodus, with hundreds of people trudging along under a giant umbrella of really dark clouds, dragging our bizarre beach paraphernalia with us. It would have made for a very interesting photograph if taken from the overlooking cliff.

Whew. Back to work tomorrow. And boo, no thunderstorm.

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Finally A Tattoo I Didn’t Have To Pay For (With Money)

In keeping with recent posts, let’s talk a little more about my ability to hurt myself. It never ceases to be entertaining to me, so I imagine it’s probably pretty funny to you, too.

I am now sporting, proudly, what I have dubbed the “bartender tattoo.” Chances are that if they’re in any way uncoordinated, every bartender you know has one. What I’m talking about is not a bruise, but a cluster of bruises vaguely resembling the Gorbachev world map birthmark, on my left hip. This beast was gained by not one unfortunate bump into hip-height stuff (and there’s lots of it behind a bar), but many collisions with hip-height stuff: bottles sticking out of a well that’s not quite vertical anymore (Cachaca’s the worst, so tall); the beer cooler at one end and the wine cooler at the other end, both placed with narrow passage and made with really pointy, meat-of-the-hip height corners; tables…

I love my job, but it, like every other facet of my life, is apparently hazardous.

Not related to the tattoo, but also quite painful (and funny)… On Saturday night, I was hurrying to the kitchen to get plates or coffee or some other thing that should not be so damn far away. The restaurant was packed, and servers were all clothed in black, running around like crazed little shadows, and all of the tables in the elevated “VIP” section had guests at them. I, of course, shot out from behind the bar and ran smack into the sharp part of the lip that comes off of the corner of the wall around VIP, with such force that it made me double at the waist and yell, “GUHHHH.” I then hobbled into the kitchen for whatever I was after, with tears in my eyes. When I passed the table near the pointy wall, the guests were still discussing the look on my face as I went down. I limped back behind the bar and lifted up my shirt to inspect the mark–this hit was higher than the others, RIGHT on my right hip bone. It was already purple. I poked it a bit (yes, it still hurt like hell), did a shot, and jumped back into the fray. I think I probably added a whole continent to Gorbachev’s map that night.

I’m going to the beach tomorrow. People are going to think I’m being battered by an abusive midget.

I did, however, hear a story that made me feel like I was not alone in the world. My friend Susanna and her brother Jonathan, who’s one of my best friends, grew up going to the dump with their dad to look for car and motorcycle parts. If you’re an islander, you know that this is not (or was not twenty or thirty years ago) all that strange. Susanna was young–I’m gonna guess between eight and twelve because I wasn’t listening when she said how old she was. She had just gotten a brand new vest that had zipper pockets. She and Jon were climbing up a big pile of tires and other junk, and Susanna, who loved the zippers on her pockets, zipped up one of her hands into the pocket of her vest. She then had Jonathan zip her other hand up in the other pocket. She promptly tripped on some piece of junk and went tumbling down dump hill, and when she landed at the bottom, she couldn’t get up. Knowing her brother as I do, he probably tickled and jabbed at her for a minute or two, laughing hysterically, before helping her to her feet and out of her self-imposed strait jacket. I didn’t know her father, but my father wouldn’t have stopped laughing for half an hour if it had been me, and he would have told the story to everyone he knew, so probably…

God, I wish I’d been able to laugh it off when I was eight. I’m twenty-eight now, and I think I have a pretty good sense of humor about things, but there are still times when I think to myself, why couldn’t I just be graceful and tan and not wear the evidence of my mishaps on my skin like targets?

But then I’d be boring.

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Attention Amateur (And Professional) Biologists!

Riddle me this, science geeks:

What is it about a swim in the salt water that makes the Salt Girl soooo sleeeeeepy? Is this phenomenon merely a psychosomatic reaction to the notion that such relaxing activity should never, ever be followed by work of any sort, or is there an actual scientific reason?

Please satiate my curiosity. I’m depending on you, as I don’t have time to research the concept, and by the time I get home from work at two a.m., I will have forgotten all about the nap I never had the chance to take.

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Ode To An Archaic Beauty Regimen

Dear Mint Julep Masque:

I think perhaps it is the time involved in using you that makes the process feel so satisfactory. Because I am always rushing, it is seldom that I take the time to savor the tingly, face-pulled-tight feeling of a masque. In fact, I’m rushing so often that I seldom remember that I even possess the goop in the first place.

But I do, and I love you, masque. Because at the end of a long, sweaty shift (when I remember that I have you), there’s nothing better than cool, minty clay on my face. And though I know it’s not a miracle cure, I go to bed feeling convinced that I will wake up in the morning with boundless energy and blemish-free skin.

This is of course complete bullshit, because it’s August, and we are all destined to be exhausted and gross until at least Labor Day. But sometimes it’s necessary to feed even yourself a line in order to keep morale up. Right?

Hopefully one of these days I will manage to submerge myself in the actual OCEAN. Perhaps even tomorrow. In the mean time, I have a whole tube of green clay, and my face is so clean and tight that I feel like I’m twelve years old again.

Ha! Take that, August!

(Incidentally, I am not drunk).

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The Inescapable Plague

It should come as no surprise to anyone who’s lived on Martha’s Vineyard that August is one of my least favorite months of the year. The only two that are worse, in my opinion, are February and March.

So while I’ve been sitting here contemplating my loathing for the eighth month, I’ve compiled a list of Top 10 Reasons to Eradicate August:

10. My ceiling fan is a hazard to my health (as you all know by now), and once August is over, I probably won’t need it to be turned on in order not to die of suffocation in my bedroom.

9. August mosquitoes are terrible little beasts which seem to be eating the skin right off of most of my friends (for some reason they’ve spared me the entire summer… perhaps because I’m too salty, har-har).

8. The horrendous buzzing noise that comes from a moped is only slightly less annoying than having a mosquito doing fly-bys next to your ear… and in August there are more complete asshole fuckwits on mopeds than in any other month.

7. It’s nearly impossible to walk down a sidewalk in August without being exiled into the street at least once because someone’s family of five has decided to commandeer the entire sidewalk, and

6. August people walk v e r y V E R Y s l o w l y.

5. Everyone working in any sort of public capacity is so unnerved by the bastard August tourists that you’re likely to get arrested for jaywalking when some jerkoff runs you off the sidewalk and into the street, because the cop hanging out outside the Corner Store is downright desperate to handcuff and harass SOMEBODY.

4. The Island House exists. Which I suppose is reason enough to eliminate June, July and September as well. One step at a time.

3. August’s weather is unfailingly in line with Murphy’s Law, which dictates that “whatever can go wrong will go wrong.” What this means is that it will always, ALWAYS be shitty, cold and rainy on your day off, and fantabulous every other day until September, and you will go into the Autumn with the same pasty color of skin that you walked into June with.

2. Skunks. Everywhere. In herds of at least three or four. In fact, I think there are enough that if a clandestine army tucked one in the suitcase of every asshole from New Jersey as they were leaving, we’d still have a jillion left.

1. Nantucket Red (which, as those of you who are lucky enough to be here in August know, is actually pink). Men should not wear pink pants, ever. EVER. And particularly not with terrible tacky woven belts with whales on them and collars tickling their earlobes. And for fuck’s sake, if you’re gonna wear this horrible combination, have the decency to at least wear sunscreen so you’re not adding your lobster-baked skin to the unnecessary ocular assault of PINK. (And incidentally, if you’re wearing pink pants and your big honkin’ class ring from some asshole Ivy League school that your daddy’s money got you into, you’re STILL on the WRONG ISLAND).

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Another Gamble With Personal Safety

As we’ve already established, I’m clumsy. I’m clumsy, and I have a particularly hazardous ceiling fan in my room.

But there’s more.

A couple of fellas are currently painting the house that I live in, so there are ladders all over the place. One of them is leaned up against the house between the back porch and the outdoor shower, making it necessary to walk under the ladder (bad luck! bad luck!) in order to get to the shower. To top it off, there’s a black cat lurking around, too. Kind of antisocial fella, though, which I guess is good for me.

Here’s the thing. I’m perfectly capable of injuring myself in the shower without the assistance of hoodoo voodoo superstition. For example, yesterday I woke up sober, in possession of all of my wits and faculties (not a terribly impressive batch of smarts, I must admit), and full of energy—and still managed to take a chunk out of my leg with a pink swivel-headed razor with a moisturizing strip. Of course the thing has three blades, so it looks a little bit like I got hit with a Barbie-sized tazer.

So when all the hoodoo finally catches up with me, which it undoubtedly will as I’ve walked under that damn ladder at least fifteen times this week, it’s probably going to be epic. We’re talking stark naked ambulance ride, folks.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Notes From A Low-Ceilinged Room

I now live in a room that comes equipped with an attack ceiling fan. In fact, I punched the offending fan just this morning. I was making my bed, and when I raised my arms to throw the bedspread over the bed, THWACK, my fist struck wood. Wood that was moving at a pretty reasonable clip. Needless to say, it punched me back. Not ten minutes awake, I’d lost a game of bloody knuckles to an inanimate object.

Now when I stand under it, I’m a little afraid. Like it might reach down a little on its own and, THWACK, leave me with a goose egg and a bald spot.

It looks like I’m restrained to hanging out with only short people until the end of August.

Wait. No.

I should only hang out with tall people, and not warn them, and smile inside as I watch them get the tops of their heads whacked, and try not to laugh out loud when they look at the ceiling wondering what the fuck happened and throw their arms up in defense and THWACK, THWACK…

God, I’m evil.

So. Do you know any tall people?