Disturbing Nude Beachgoers in Jersey

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Summer's gone, much faster than before, leaving nothing in its wake but financial jitters and the sour taste of day-old schadenfreude. Labor Day weekend was anticlimactic, like nearly everything else about this first year of the new millennium. I miss the Future. It used to be so opulent.

As dusk descended on Manhattan on Labor Day Saturday, I headed over to Brooklyn for a memorial service for Abu Ali Mustafa, the aged Palestinian freedom fighter assassinated by the Israelis as he sat at his desk. Mustafa was a cofounder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which he and Dr. George Habash put together after the 1967 war. The Israelis had him on their hit list back in the 60s and the early 70s, but they couldn't find him, even though he spent much of that time hiding out in the occupied West Bank, organizing resistance forces. In 1972, he was elected deputy general secretary of the PFLP, and he served from 1987 until 1991 on the Executive Committee of the PLO. Last year, when Dr. Habash stepped down, Mustafa was elected general secretary of the PFLP.

The PFLP has always been the red faction in the Palestinian struggle, and there was a disappointing amount of communist rhetoric at the memorial service. Cuban flags and kneejerk prattle about Vieques aren't going to further the cause of the Palestinian people one bit. Nelson Mandela's ANC had the same links, but black Africans haven't been demonized like the Arabs have been in the American media, and the commie tendency most definitely will not play in Peoria. It doesn't even play here.

I cut out early and went up to Washington Heights to hang out with this crazy woman I've been seeing. Sunday afternoon we went to Sandy Hook, figuring to take advantage of the light traffic and warm sea temperatures. We got to Gunnison Beach around 3 and staked out what seemed to be a nice spot near the lifeguards. It's a nude beach, so we got undressed and had just cracked open a couple of beers when this awful man next to us started going off on his wife. "We have to leave because SHE HAS TO TAKE A SHIT!" he bellowed. "It's MY FUCKING VACATION, but we HAVE TO LEAVE because MY FUCKING WIFE HAS TO TAKE A SHIT! She has to shit FOUR TIMES A DAY and she has to tell me about it every time. EVERYTHING revolves around HER AND HER GODDAMNED SHITS?" On and on he went like this, his great belly quivering like Jell-O and his awful penis lying shriveled between his thighs like an old rotten sausage. He wouldn't shut up, and he never strayed from the subject of his wife's bowel movements. For her part, she put up with it and even came back to his withering abuse after she finished dropping the kids off at the pool, as we say in the circus. Me, I would have split. I would have grabbed the clothes and the car keys and stranded the nasty bastard right there, naked, on the beach, with nothing but the beer in his fist and a lawn chair. She could have been halfway up the beach before he even got out of the chair. She had some kind of nasty skin condition, and he just kept bellowing about her bowels until I finally dragged our stuff about 30 feet away. We could still hear him, but at least it wasn't right next to us.

Nude beaches are supposed to be relaxing, or at least mildly stimulating. This guy was horrible and they were both ugly and I really wanted to cut his dick off and jam it down his throat just to shut him up. What was truly wretched about the situation was the woman's abject submission to this unspeakable torrent of abuse. We drank our beers in peace and watched the naked people cavorting in the surf. At the end of the day, the lifeguards went a little wild, posing for pictures with the naked people and whooping it up. Two enormous white ocean liners pushed out of the harbor and out to sea. End of the season, sun going down, last chance to fly a kite, get a tan, ride the waves.

We walked up the beach until there were no more people around and then we sat on a big block of driftwood and smoked a joint. Great plump seagulls squatted in the sand, unconcerned with us in their smug avian arrogance. Sandpipers skittered along the edge of the water, pecking at little crabs and making plush toy noises. A little chill came into the air as twilight descended. Soon it'll be parkas and boots, scarves and hats, too soon the crunch of filthy snow underfoot and the dubious horror of Christmas. Nothing is resolved, protagonists and antagonists alike are at sea, no shore in sight. We are adrift in a continuum of events out of which some as yet undetermined future may emerge, or may not.

The two great ships faded into the distance. We gathered our things, got dressed, walked back to the car and drove home. On Labor Day, we drank all day. Nothing is revealed, as the poet says.

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