Last night, I awoke at 2 a.m. with a terrible, pounding headache. Where it came from was no mystery. The combination of the Jawa's horrible mood turn, plus my mistake of watching Peter O'Toole and his #1 twin child, Good Time Charlie, on the spinning swing thing (since my infamous migraine period of 1999-2001, I can no longer even watch people on spinning rides, let alone ride them myself) at some boardwalk on the Jersey Shore, plus a week of sleeping on the floor, led to the inevitable return of "the headache."
Sadly, I'd packed no Tylenol, Advil, Alleve, anything vaguely pain-relieving. I was forced to conduct an early-morning sweep of O'Toole's princely estate. In the dark.
Something about New Jersey: it is dark. There are no streetlights, and no inside lights are left on at night, leading to danger for guys stumbling around with 20/300 vision.
A few thoughts, as a digression, about the Jersey Shore. While running from ride to ride, I couldn't help but imagine The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, cutting his teeth on a scene just like this. Eventually, I had to email Roger A. Hunt, a fellow pre-"Born in the USA" pundit Springsteen fan, to relate my skepticism at any of the people roaming the boardwalk being capable of circa-1974 Springsteen-like romanticism. All I saw were muscle guys with ridiculous sunglasses and big fat tank top guys, none of whom I could imagine chasing the factory girls underneath the boardwalk or blowing out of here to win.
But then, maybe they could. Maybe the Boss was reminding us that even the meatheads with the little shorts could be boy romantics. Maybe a steady diet of TV and movies, where the guy plowing the streets in the small, blue-collar Massachusetts town is Matt Dillon, has made me forget that regular people are what it's all about. I relaxed and suddenly, it seemed as possible on the boardwalk as anywhere.
Through the guest bathroom I went. No Tylenol. I'd have to risk climbing the stairs.
Getting up was no problem. I stuck to the walls. When I reached the second floor, I considered the embarassment of getting caught sneaking around in my boxers at 2 a.m. and slowed my steps until they made no sound at all. Into the boys' bathroom. Would there be pain reliever? Given that the boys are 6-year-old twins, I should have known that the only pain reliever available would be of the grape liquid variety.
I rifled through the drawers. Nothing. I briefly ran through various scenarios that could get me into the master bath without waking O'Toole and Princess Grace. None seemed even remotely realistic.
There I stood, at 2 a.m., staring into a 3/4 length mirror, weighing my options.
And speaking of "weigh," as I stared into that mirror I realized that at some point between Wellesley and Ridgewood, I became a fat guy. No more will my pleas of, "Man, I feel huge," be greeted with, "You're not huge." My Banana Republic fitted black t-shirts (of which I brought six, and nothing else, on this trip) no longer cling to my chest first, accenting my gym-toned pecs. Now they bulge out, highlighting rather than obscuring a mini-reproduction of the "midriff development" my father used to call "El Grosso" when it appeared on him in his 40s.
This morning Sandra Bullock enthusiastically related her dream from last night. In it, I was "fat, like that guy from the Sopranos, the one who was gay." Obviously, my return to San Francisco will include a comprehensive 24-Hour Fitness program and diet adjustment.
Meanwhile, back in the boys' bathroom, I considered the bottle of Children's Tylenol sitting on the counter. "It's grape," I reasoned, "and I like grape." I checked the dosage. For a child weighing 95 lbs., 3 oz. are recommended. What about for a guy who's fat like the guy in the Sopranos?
I figured that 6 oz. would do the trick, so I choked down three 2 oz. shots. It tasted like very thick grape soda whose expiration date had long since passed. As I felt the gooey, sweet liquid ooze down my throat, I wondered if there would be any side effects. Is there something about children's Tylenol that is harmful to adults? My head hurt so badly that I didn't really care. On the bright side, maybe I'd wake up childlike and playful, with a full head of hair.
I returned to my bed on the floor after careful navigation of the stairs. How embarassing would it be to be found collapsed in a heap, shirtless and broken, in Peter O'Toole's new foyer?
This morning I awoke shaky and confused, my head improved but not cured. I'd had yet another dream about being in high school, this time committing to all kinds of assignments I could not complete and carrying Colleen Tivenan down a flight of stairs. Princess Grace provided 3 adult-sized Tylenol from a suspicious plastic bag. I did not tell her of my adventures from the previous night. Would you have?
Today we move on to New York. Our vacation is drawing to a close. 24-Hour Fitness awaits.