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02/27/2011 - By Eric Tucker
Eric Tucker explores the quirky goodness of Monmouth County
Glad youíre reading the first of what I hope will be many columns - providing the checks clear - written with tongue slightly planted in cheek. The Publisher, himself, asked me to contribute material to his Living In Media publications, which focus on the good life here in Monmouth County. I intend to focus on the good and quirky, or perhaps the quirky goodness, of the county. I have the rare perspective of a local boy born and raised here, but please donít tell my wife. Sheís a Bergen County broad.
Did you know that 98.7% of the Monmouth County residents over the age of 22 were born in either Staten Island or Guadalajara? Itís the truth! (Since the age of three, whenever our middle child uttered that declaration we knew he was lying. The greater the conviction in his voice, the greater the attempted deceit.) However, as with many bogus statistics, thereís an element of truth in that number. Many of us are from somewhere else. Carpetbaggers. Strange people in a strange land.
What is it that sets locals apart from your garden variety, outer borough transplant? Is the cause environmental? Or maybe, itís the extravagant real estate taxes. Perhaps itís our local politicians, who repeatedly teach us that work is for suckers and that we are the suckers for working so we can pay our real estate taxes. Locals develop patience living under these conditions, which helps us survive the brutal winters and the oppressive summers. I prefer the oppression to the dark brutality of winter.
I tend to lose my patience when tired. By eight oíclock in the evening Iíve been awake for 15 hours, three to four of which were spent commuting to the city. The winter darkness exacerbates the somnolence. Anyway, our lovely daughter, sweetness and light, dances all through the winter. One of her weekly classes runs from eight to nine in the evening. I try not to have to change out of my slippers when Iím called upon to drive her there. By rights, I shouldnít have to.
The school of dance (with a soft Ďaí) is in a building whose parking lot is too small to handle the hourly drop off and pick up melee. Expeditions and minivans are backing in and pulling out and double parking with more Expeditions and minivans waiting to pull into the undersized lot. Now, the drop-off can often go smoothly where you pull up in front of the handicapable spots, donít have to park, and let the princess jump out of the car and run into the academy. Thereís always an exception to the rule.
One night, the driver of the car in front of us is busy texting his girlfriend or having a petit mal seizure or something. He hesitates before reaching the drop off by the handicapable spots. I swing around him and block him in, just before he comes to and starts driving again. I realize that my tactics were a little aggressive and want to make a quick get-away. However, mothers and their dancers are about to back out of their spots and block me in. Seeing that I have to act fast , I step on the gas/electric (we have a hybrid). My dancer hadnít finished getting out of the car yet. (Our kids are notoriously slow at that.) She screams. I have to stop because people are looking. Anyway, I digressÖ The point is, regardless, I didnít have to get out of the car dropping off.
Pick up is different. If there are no spots in the front of the ďacademy,Ē I have to park in the back and get out of the car. Youíd think that at nine oíclock at night in a little strip mall, good parking spots would be available. But the dancing place is next to the ubiquitous Dunkin' Donuts. Our local chapter of the Tea Party meets there and theyíre growing.
I generally avoid politics, it being the work of the devil (credit Dylan). Iím usually way outnumbered in any local forum anyway. But I feel safe picking on the Tea Party. They sit there, as you walk past from your parking spot out back, flapping their traps about this and that. Drinking their tea and avoiding their spouses. Couldnít they get a better deal on tea bags at the Shop-Rite? I bet the original Boston Tea Partiers did not meet at a Dunkin' Donuts. Go to the mall and stimulate the economy. I never go there. Frankly, Iím surprised the landlady permits these gatherings. Sheís been known to chase Brownies and Cub Scouts away. You donít suppose sheís a tea connoisseur herself? Hmm....
Be that as it may (an outdated but pleasant sounding transitional phrase), one manís tea party is, to another, the last headache in a long day of headaches. And arenít we here to help one another? Thatís how the good life in Monmouth County works and why Iíd live no where else, unless I found some place better. The Monmouth and Ocean County area ranked highly on one of those ďbest places to live, quality of lifeĒ surveys several years back. And we would have done even better if we did not have to carry Ocean County. (You know what Iím saying...)
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