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Etc - Aspirin...please.
02/27/2011 - By Eric Tucker

Etc - Aspirin...please.

Eric Tucker explores the quirky goodness of Monmouth County

Glad you’re 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 don’t tell my wife. She’s 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?  It’s 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, there’s 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, it’s the  extravagant real estate taxes. Perhaps it’s 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 o’clock in the evening I’ve 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 I’m called upon to drive her there. By rights, I shouldn’t have to.

The school of dance (with a soft ‘a’) 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, don’t have  to park, and let the princess jump out of the car and run into the academy. There’s 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 hadn’t 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 digress… The point is, regardless, I didn’t have to get out of the car dropping off.

Pick up is different. If there are no spots in the front of the “academy,” I have to park in the back and get out of the car. You’d  think that at nine o’clock 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 they’re growing.

I generally avoid politics, it being the work of the devil (credit Dylan). I’m 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. Couldn’t 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, I’m surprised the landlady permits these gatherings. She’s been known to chase Brownies and Cub Scouts away. You don’t suppose she’s a tea connoisseur herself? Hmm....

Be that as it may (an outdated but pleasant sounding transitional phrase), one man’s tea party is, to another, the last headache in a  long day of headaches. And aren’t we here to help one another? That’s how the good life in Monmouth County works and why I’d  live no where else, unless I found some place better. The Monmouth and Ocean County area ranked highly on one of those “best  places to live, quality of life” surveys several years back. And we would have done even better if we did not have to carry Ocean  County. (You know what I’m saying...)

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