Last night I went to see my relatives on the Jersey Shore. My cousins live in Spring Lake, which my parents claim is nicknamed the Irish Riviera. Sometimes I think my parents create these whimsical tidbits for my amusement, but the town lives up to the name. My dad and his siblings used to live down at the Shore during the summers when they were growing up. Naturally, when they all came of age, they hit the bar scene.  Supposedly they were kicked out on more than one occasion. When my cousins and I heard this, we decided the next generation of Bonners had to live up to our name and take on Belmar.

My cousin and I met a couple of her friends at Connelly Station in Belmar just before 9pm. Connelly Station is a fairly nice bar and restaurant which attracts an older crowd. The standard Irish brews were on tap, in addition to Miller Lite and Bud. The Giants/Jets game was featured on two TVs, the Yankees game on one, and the US women’s soccer team was on the small TV in the corner. After catching up on the family gossip, I eagerly anticipated the first notes of the band setting up. And boy was I rewarded. The first song was U2’s “With or Without You” which segued into “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” A U2 cover band?! I nearly peed myself while texting the Almost East Coast Correspondent. Unfortunately my hopes were dashed when the band featured Journey next. Well, and the flat notes from Mr. Wannabe Bono. The girls decided we should head off to 507, another bar which had a both a band and DJ.

The 507 had a long line in front. Normally I skip bars with lines. Frankly, I don’t want to wait for my alcohol. Plus, I’m probably wary that the bouncer will not let me in for a petty reason like not wearing heels. I’d rather not embarrass myself or my friends with a heated discussion on whether the ridiculous pain of my feet is worth the price of being cute and two inches taller. I accepted the fact that I’m short a long time ago. Anyway, we get into the bar after fifteen minutes and head for the back room. Lots of Long Island guys and Jersey girls. Tight shirts, slicked back hair, and goatees on the guys, and make-up, dyed blonde hair, and lots of jewelry on the girls. Everyone has a great, thick accent, and no one uses sun block. My cousin ordered shots of Jameson and the “not quite 30 years old” Jersey girls at the bar marveled at our choice. They asked if we’re Italian. I don’t think they were familiar with Jameson. They were drinking colorful cocktails out of plastic cups. The band at 507 played mostly Bruce and Bon Jovi. Mr. Long Island named each song for me and was shocked that I didn’t know all the words. We wrapped up the evening by heading to Bar A, but realized it was 2AM—closing time.

This afternoon my cousin and I headed to the beach—a mere three blocks from her house. The waves threw me around a bit, but I consider the salt water I swallowed a nice dose of Jersey to take back to the Midwest.

Next up: the Retirement Community Report. Admit it—you can’t wait.