My husband had the day off, and we were looking for something different to do. New York City? Too far. Philadelphia? Too far. The kids wanted to go to the boardwalk. How about a different boardwalk? How about Seaside Heights?
I couldn’t recall the last time I had been there, probably more than 20 years ago. We looked online to see what kind of rides they have and what time they opened. Roller coasters and noon. Perfect, let’s go!
I can honestly say that we didn’t start the day with the intention to seek out any MTV "Jersey Shore" television show cast members. I admit I have watched the show, which is set in Seaside Heights. I know who the people are. I know they work in one of the T-shirt stores there. But I didn’t know that they are currently filming. And I didn’t know that some of their antics happen in broad daylight on Sunday afternoons.
It was about noon when we found a parking spot and made our way to the boardwalk. There were no lines for the rides – we blew through a $50 ticket book very quickly.
Soon afterwards, I was on the sky ride travelling south with my son and one daughter. My husband and oldest daughter were down below walking the boardwalk. My cell phone rang. It was my husband calling to tell me that he just saw Deena – one of the Jersey Shore cast members – get in a screaming match with some guy on the boardwalk. My husband said we should be able to see them from the sky ride.
So here I am in the sky ride traveling over the Shore Store, where the cast members work, taking pictures of the whole scene and sending them to my cousins in Ohio who watch the show.
We got some lunch and while we were eating our pizza we saw the same cast member stumble down the boardwalk with a crowd following behind her. We walked down the boardwalk a little while later and saw the same girl dancing on a bar with the crowd gathered around to watch. We also stopped to watch, and my middle daughter nailed it all on the head as she usually does:
"I don’t even know who she is! Why is she famous? This is so unimportant. Let’s go on the rides!”
So true. So unimportant.
When we got back to our house later that day, we talked about the whole "Jersey Shore" thing with the kids. They could understand someone being famous for being a musician: Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber. They could understand someone being famous for being an actor: Jack Black or Adam Sandler. But the “reality show” fame of the Jersey Shore cast made no sense to them. And as I tried to explain it, it made less and less sense to me.
“Well … they get paid a lot of money to act dumb and get filmed.”
My kids wanted to know, “Why were so many people following her?”
That was also hard to explain.
“I guess people just want to be famous. And if they can’t be famous, they want to be near someone famous. It’s kind of like wanting to be popular in school. But in the end, if you are famous, you never know who your real friends are. So is it worth it? I don’t think so.”
That evening, the television news reported that this same cast member was shortly after we saw her.
We dubbed the day “Dumb People Sunday.”
We were dumb to stop and watch the filming. The people who followed her around all day were dumb. The cast member was dumb for drinking too much, dancing on a bar and getting arrested.
I ended the conversation by lecturing, “Girls, don’t you ever act like that! Don’t you ever dress like that!” and so on. To my son, “Don’t you ever go out with a girl like that!”
We went to Seaside Heights in search of roller coasters, which we did find, but we also found some life lessons along the way, too. Who knew the town had so much to offer?