Some of them were drafted to the shore; others enlisted voluntarily, but they all carried heavy burdens. The things they carried included a Spikeball set, a volleyball, 96 Twisted Teas, Jeep keys on a lanyard, 29 Deer Park 16.9-ounce water bottles, iced coffee, beach chairs, and a Bluetooth speaker. In total, the things they carried weighed between 8 million and 9 million pounds. In total, they carried exactly 0 shirt sleeves.
To carry something was to bring it along just in case we ended up wanting it and that way we’d have it, as when host Zachary Sullivan brought along three different editions of Settlers of Catan just in case we ended up wanting them and that way we’d have them.
The things they carried were partly a function of occupation. Sam, who did corporate finance, carried polarized Ray-Bans, Euro-style swim trunks, and flip-flops with bottle openers in the soles. Nathan, who also did corporate finance but in a vertical that was different in a way you wouldn’t understand, carried the same things.
I remember the moment my number was called. It was host Zachary Sullivan, a certified shoremonger. My mind reeled — why were we going? Was Zachary aware of the pool in his backyard? Did he not care about Cody and Honey, his two golden retrievers, which weigh over 80 pounds each but wear it well and are very jolly little chunksters?
Zachary told me our mission was to soak up the sun, which sounds compelling, but the truth is this: sunbathing is the worst. It zaps all your energy and, in exchange, slowly kills you. Even when it’s over, it stays with you, and three days later, you molt like a lizard. The shore made us sandy and salty and ruined our hair, and when we swam the water was colder and murkier than we remembered, and then we had to stand around air drying because the things we carried did not include enough towels because Zachary had been unclear about whether he was providing those. Shore is hell, but in the end, I went anyway, out of not courage but fear. We have acronyms like FUBAR and SNAFU, and we have one for this too: FOMO.
Sometimes, while sunbathing, we’d get ambushed by crowds, so we’d load up and hump elsewhere. We followed the locals, stepping right in their tracks, trusting their feet’s instinctual ability to avoid buried syringes and broken Snapple bottles.
The land itself was actually quite beautiful. The dunes rolled. The waves came in, sloshed about, and receded, marking the point where things come together but also separate. In another context, I thought, this place could be enlightening. Then, I saw a group of bulky bros shotgunning Bud Lights and thought, What’s the point of all this? And by all this, I mean, of course, a backward visor.
After an experience like ours, all you want to do is share your story. That’s why we all Instagrammed so much. One story that keeps me up at night is this.
Danny and Max decided to pass the time with a swim, so they grabbed their Twisted Teas and waded out. That’s when it happened. A riptide pulled them both far, and then a pod of orcas started batting them around with their flukes, until finally a huge jellyfish wrapped them in its tentacles and dragged them under. Okay, maybe that never technically happened, but sometimes the truth on paper doesn’t match the truth in your soul, you know? Also, this group of hot girls was totally checking me out and that’s MY truth.
When we left for the shore, we were just boys. When we came back, we were completely changed, in the sense that we were drowsy and tipsy. Days later, I sat down with Zachary Sullivan to exchange shore stories. He told me inland was just wrong for him — for some inexplicable reason he planned on returning. I told him, “Sounds sick, I’m in!” Then I stood up to leave, and the couch was covered with skin from my back.