Last night my chariot left the city half an hour past sundown and made its way towards Sea Isle City. I love driving to the beach at night. Especially alone. Sometimes I get so lost in thought that even the sounds of beloved music get ignored. Sometimes I’m so tuned in, the music never even gets turned on. Last night was a bit of a 50/50 split between dead air and Live/Dead…the latter representing the sounds of a Weird Wednesday the most through the psychedelic journeys orchestrated by late 60’s Grateful Dead.
Something about journeying to the ocean in a psychedelic frame of mind that evokes the ghosts of days past. The Atlantic City Expressway serves as a crossroad of hope that dwells under the glimmering lights of a mirage that was once America’s Playground but has been reduced to nothing more than a crummy ocean facade. I still always tempt myself to keep driving straight into its many libations before veering off at 7S and heading towards what’s been dubbed the Catholic Riviera.
Once the sea breeze begins seeping through the car window the ghosts awaken. Some of them come in the shape of memories lost long ago under the guise of youth. The glory days. When we were young. Others are of the more stereotypical variety, the Jakob Marley stumbling out of the sea variety. Chains and all. Last night was no exception to either rule.
It was during the in-between time at the Dead Dog when I made the decision to take a walk in resistance to the encouragement of a town with a history of encouraging my drinking habit. In-between is the time when things get weird at the Dead Dog and I get antsy. It’s the time between 11:30 and 1:30. The time after the normal people go home and go to bed, the time before the partiers stumble in to place a stamp upon their evening’s indulgence. One where weirdos like myself take solemn walks down Pleasure or Boardwalk often alone and into what should be a dream.
After my grandfather’s passing I began missing an old friend of his who I would get to know better in more recent years. His nickname was Bobby Sox and he was a drummer. He also thought very highly of me even at times when most people (including myself) did not seem to have this sentiment. And I always had this notion that he was somebody famous in the late Fifties, early Sixties. As I walked down to Boardwalk last night I felt him sitting next to me as I planted myself on a bench to rest my tired legs. For once I felt like I could tell him something that would make him proud. About how I’m taking life by the horns. Not letting anybody get in my way anymore. Gonna get a piece of the pie the old-fashioned way: hard work and determination. Despite knowing all this I smiled at the fact that he wouldn’t care whether or not any of this was true. He knew that the secret to becoming the man he thought I could become did not dwell in the success of my past but was rather what exists right here in the present. It is all about thinking positive about the current situation. Not worrying about any short-comings that can told to hold back life’s progressions. The thought of running into him especially since my grandfather’s death brings a smile to me.
A smile paved in the psychedelic magic of a weird Wednesday out searching for Willoughby; lost sailing upon the in-between sea of time, space, and light. A midsummer night’s dance with destiny hedged between the rafters of the Twilight Zone. In my mind I still think of Bobby Sox every time I hear the old Motown classic “Let the Good Times Roll” which was performed by the classic artist that went by the name Bobb. B. Soxx. Sometimes I feel like Bobby is playing the kit on this recording…and my grandparents are throwing one of their legendary parties stained with the grains of ancient 8mm film. Lost in a drumroll, the rhythmn of the heart that’s stumbled over its last beat.
The in-between. One second I hear Bobby complimenting me in front of my grandfather. The next second I’m back at the Dead Dog and my brother is churning out staple covers which are as rudimentary to the bar’s business in attracting customers as the pied piper’s flute is to gutting the place of vermin before that time we call the in-between creeps over our shadows. Night resumes with hopefully few harmful regrets although as long as it was of the ‘what happens in Sea Isle stays in Sea Isle’ variety, I know that Bobby would be proud of me for being me. Oh what I would give to tell him how I’m doing today.
I found out this morning that Bobby died last night. Unfortunately, I had not seen him since my grandfather’s passing. Despite this misfortune, I’m confident knowing that he was honored to know me just as I was honored to know him. He’ll be missed but his ghost will live on through those magical summer nights where the fog settles and the wind blows me through the sands of time. Weird Wednesdays. Lost amidst the in-between.
RIP Bobby I know you didn’t play drums on this one…but you may as well have! Make sure you help my grandfather get home if you’re both out a little too late!