It is unfortunate to see how these wild drinkers who scour everywhere from the Jersey shore to the beaches of Italy can gain such a high pinnacle of fame. By the way, they did not have such a warm reception in Italy, although these characters claimed to be Italian themselves. Maybe they were—I do not know much about these people. All I know is they obsess over the grease in their hair, the high heels on their feet, hours and hours in the gym looking like, well, a bunch of you know what’s. They make loud incomprehensible noises at the bar and excessively pump their fists to the ceiling like they are making some kind of a war cry.
And when they do cry, they shed tears over a bad kiss and too much alcohol, or a brief episode in handcuffs with the local police. They portray a great state, namely a great area (the shore) in the most inaccurate ways. With their clean laundry and mindless evenings in bed with each other or some random soul just looking to have their fifteen minutes, these people have somehow managed to capture the eyes of a nation looking down on us through cable.
This in not us.
This is not New Jersey.
These people are not heroes.
If you haven’t picked up on who I am speaking of, I am referring to the cast of the Jersey Shore, a group of artificially darkened people who go out each night and drink, talk smack, and ultimately run from confrontation. Back at their house comes the trash talking of “Oh, I wish dude hadn’t pulled me away,” or “Man, what I would have done to that piece of____!”
Not real, these folks. Poisoned by the lighting equipment and camera, we can’t look at these people as any kind of local heroes.
I could have searched and searched this area for a local hero. You know, a bar owner who donates whatever amount to whatever charity. Yes, they have their news article front page, shaking hands as they present the abnormally large check to help out little children. They are heroes, yes, and they must be highlighted.
The man I chose was not far from my reach. To you, I would assume he is unknown. He lives modestly in a small house with a porch. It is always festive for each season, and he has the best little lawn in the neighborhood. A proud man he is
He is my Grandfather. Heard of him? He has no dedicated benches in his name, no highways to travel on and see his name. You would not know the man.
But I know him. I know him very well. I grew up spending holidays on his lap, or throwing reels into the Raritan Bay and pulling in some big ones. I remember looking in his fridge and seeing loads of wrapped fish blanketing the bottom, all bigger than me.
He is a real man, and if you saw him on the boardwalk walking in his Marine baseball cap, you would continue on and pass him off as just another man. I find it sad that he would just be passed by and that just about everyone in this state—I mean nation—could pick out each member of the Jersey Shore cast and offer a biography from high school to favorite drink or fist pumping song.
This is a man who left his home at a young age when the country he loved was attacked, and when the ships sank beneath the Harbor. He signed his name away to the Military, spent night by night after training for the long hours of the day listening to the train whistle that blew nearby. He used to think of that train, how there were people with their travel cases packed on their way home to the warm embraces of loved ones. When the whistle blew he thought of…he thought of his love. How she waited home for him, looking at his handsome picture, all dressed in his neatly pressed Marine uniform, and each letter she wrote inked with love and tears of yearning for him to come home.
But he was far from the train whistle soon enough. Far away in the South Pacific, and now in a world of exploding oceans and diving planes from the sky so dreadfully known as kamikazes. He saw them as they fell, the sounds of those eerie descending engines and BOOM! He ran up the beaches, which were nothing like the beaches of fun times in the sun and the cute ladies shyly laughing at the men who flexed their muscles. The gun shots expelled from shells at the enemy and bullets were fired at him. This was just another war in the history of the world. But he created a nation. A brave soul he was, fighting with only a prayer and a picture of the smile he longed for as the bombs exploded and dirtied his face.
I have never asked what? What happened? What did you see? I dared not ask. I dared not make this man have to revisit these moments, these bloody images that he will surely never forget. I have seen the specials on television about how bloody the war was, who died, and what the end result really was.
And although there were thousands upon thousands of brave young boys like him, my Grandfather sits beside me as we rock in our chairs talking about nothing but the weather. But inside his eyes, there is something. Something more powerful than any network production of young idiots in skimpy clothing and greased muscles. There is something about my Grandfather.
Well, the result is something these Jersey Shore folks never think about. They don’t understand why they can do what they do. Their wild nights out, the one night stands. Next time you watch this show, ask yourself, “Do these people know my Grandfather?” Maybe any veteran for that matter?
No, you will not find him goggled up in a tanning booth. Laundry is important to him, but he would rather speak of all-you-can-eat buffets. Not a brainless meathead, but he does enjoy his walks at the Y. And even though his nights are quiet in front of the television with a snack and tea, as the news spills out before him, he does not know about this crew that haunt our shore.
I’m glad for that. He has been spared those moments he can never get back.