By: Gonz Blinko
“Play some Pistols!” I yelled, somewhat drunkenly, at the rock cover band playing in a dive Seaside Heights bar. “Play some Ramones!”
The band, who did have some punk in their repertoire, instead launched into some more mainstream rock song. I bellied up to the bar and got myself another Budweiser. I returned to the wall where I had been leaning and lit a cigarette.
“Hey Red,” I said to my friend, “These guys suck. Isn’t there anything good to do?”
“It’s a Monday night and we’re down the shore,” replied Red, “There ain’t shit going on worth seeing within 50 miles of here.”
“Well, maybe they’ll play some Ramones,” I muttered and headed for the men’s room to smoke some weed.
It was August 1979 and, along with about a half dozen friends, I had rented a dive apartment just off of the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, NJ. This is, of course, the same boardwalk that had been destroyed by Super Storm Sandy.
I got myself another beer and returned to my spot along the wall of the club. Red had taken a seat at the bar but I preferred standing, swaying under the influence to the rock and roll.
“Can I have one of those cigarettes?” asked a woman clad in leopard print spandex, a very revealing halter top and big, big blonde hair.
“Sure,” I said as I removed a Chesterfield from its pack.
“No filter?” asked the woman.
“No, I like them this way.” I responded trying to sound hard, punk and on the edge. I had turned 19 the month before and, clearly, this woman, while very attractive in a trashy, Jersey Shore sort of way, had achieved the ancient age of 24 or 25 by then.
“That’s cool,” said my new friend as she lit the cigarette. “Let me get you a beer,” she added as she stepped to the bar and got me a Bud and some sort of cocktail for herself.
“Play some fucking Ramones!” I shouted as the band finished a another song by the Knack, then an unavoidable band.
“So, punk rock, what’s your name?” Inquired the rock and roll chick who had bought me a beer.
“Gonz, Gonz Blinko,” I slurred a bit drunkenly.
“Gonz?” What sort of name is that?
“It’s a family thing,” I replied, “And what do they call you?”
“They call me Ambrosia,” she said with a strong amount of sarcasm.
“Really, they call me Ambrosia.”
“Well, do you want another drink… Ambrosia?” I asked emphasizing her name with a bit of incredulity.
“Sure, a Seven and Seven.”
I stepped over to the bar, said “hi” to Red who was heavily involved in a conversation about the potential presidential candidacy of George McGovern’s former campaign manager, a young Colorado Senator named Gary Hart. “Another Bud and a 7&7,” I shouted over the music to the bartender.
“Here you go, Ambrosia” I said again, the Ambrosia dripping in irony.
“Thanks, Gonz,” she replied with the sense that she didn’t believe that my name was really Gonz Blinko.
The band continued its mediocre versions of popular rock songs. I continued to yell for some punk songs and Ambrosia’s fingers intertwined with mine and we began swaying together to the music. We drank, smoked and gradually grew physically closer to each other.
After Ambrosia returned with another round of drinks, she turned and started grinding her butt into my crotch in time with the music. I placed one hand on her waist (my other hand was occupied with my beer) and pulled her toward me. We ground into each other in sloppy rhythm with the cover band.
As Ambrosia leaned back into my arms, I whispered, “Let’s get out of here.”
“And go where?” giggled my rock and roll chick.
“We got a place only a couple of blocks from here,” I replied with a sense of purpose.
We held hands and walked out of the dive bar. The band still hadn’t played any punk but Red told me the next day that, in their last set, the finally did do some Ramones and Pistols songs. I think my decision to leave with Ambrosia was better than watching some crappy cover band do sub-par versions of my favorite music.
“Classy…” said Ambrosia as we entered our Seaside Heights apartment. The place had a patina of sand and crud from being dragged in by beach goers over the years. The stove had all sorts of unknown organic substances dried on it from years without a cleaning. My room did have clean sheets and decent pillows because I brought them from home.
“Want a beer?” I asked.
“No booze?” asked Ambrosia.
“No, just beer.”
“Ok, then, a beer it is.” said Ambrosia as I opened the ancient refrigerator that contained exactly 7 eggs, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and about 75 cans of Budweiser. My crowd were loyal Budweiser drinkers.
I handed Ambrosia her beer and took her hand and led her to my room. I felt such incredible anticipation, this Ambrosia, if that was indeed her name, seemed amazing.
We entered the room, sat on the bed and started through fumbling around, making out and groping with vigor made sloppy by the alcohol and weed. Our clothes fell off and we enthusiastically started into wild monkey sex. It was great.
At around eleven the next morning, I felt Ambrosia starting to move. “What are you doing?” I asked.
“I have to go to work.” she replied.
“Work?” I asked with a pounding hangover. “Where do you work?”
“Can I borrow a t-shirt?” asked my late night lover.
“Sure,” I said trying to stand up. I grabbed a shirt and said, “Here, I think this one is pretty clean.” and handed her a blue pocket tee.
“I work, uh, Well, uh, “I’m the Snake Lady.” said Ambrosia, as if I wouldn’t believe her.
“You know, the Snake Lady!”
“No, I don’t know,” I said trying to wrap my head around her statements.
“You know, in the side show on the amusement pier,” she said to me as if I was a child, “I’m the half snake half lady.”
I must have looked completely perplexed. By now, I remembered the big painted sign telling the world that for a mere fifty cents, one could see the only half snake, half human ever captured. “Could this lovely party girl actually be the lady in the side show?” I asked myself.
“No shit?” I asked.
“No shit, I’m the fucking snake lady. Alright?”
“What exactly do you do?” I asked.
“I sit in a chair with my head poking through a sheet of plywood where, on top, it’s attached to a stuffed snake like body.” She continued, “I just sit around and try not to laugh.”
Ambrosia continued dressing and I did the same. My buddies were all still asleep after their own adventures in decadence and debauchery.
I walked my lovely companion to the back door. She leaned forward and kissed me lightly on the cheek. “My real name is Mary, what’s yours?”
“My name is Ferragonzi, people really do call me Gonz.”
“People really call me Ambrosia but it’s not my real name.”
“Well, Gonz is short for my real name and it’s what people call me and it’s what I call myself.”
“Well, then, Gonz, come visit me on the pier.”
We kissed on the lips and Ambrosia, whose name is really Mary, went off toward the boardwalk.
Later that afternoon, I, accompanied by Red and Roberto went to the amusement pier. We payed our fifty cents each and entered the snake pit, the home of the snake lady. As we entered, Mary looked incredibly bored but, her eyes lit up and she smiled as she saw us. Mary had some sort of fake tongue in her mouth that she could snap out like a whip which she launched and we all laughed.
I spent much of the rest of my 1979 week in Seaside Heights hanging out in the snake pit, going out to hear live music and enjoying frenetic simian sex with Mary, my reptilian goddess. When the week ended, Mary and I exchanged phone numbers and promised to stay in touch and hang out some more. After we kissed goodbye on that final day of my vacation, we never saw or spoke to each other again.
This week, when Super Storm Sandy hit the Jersey Shore, I started feeling nostalgic for Seaside Heights and our drunken, sex and drug charged vacations in dumpy apartments. When CNN announced that the Seaside Heights amusement pier had fallen into the ocean, I felt my eyes filling with tears.
I wept for the roller coaster, I wept for the bobsled ride but, mostly, I wept for the snake lady. Certainly, Ambrosia/Mary would no longer hold that job but I remembered the lovely five nights and days we spent together and I wept for the rowdy young college kid who would not meet his snake lady as the rides and sideshow are gone.
— End ”