We were somewhere around the New Jersey Turnpike when the Takis began to take hold. I remember saying something like “the roof of my mouth is literally on fire, but I can’t stop eating these somebody help.” We were ravenous. Five friends en route from Boston to New York to Atlantic City. We weren’t looking for anything in particular but we all knew that trouble was looking for us. No one really cared. Because when you decide to go to the Jersey Shore you know Trouble’s waiting on a rhinestone throne at the city gates smoking an e-hookah wheezing “What took you so long, bitch?” 

We had a handle of jalapeño grapefruit vodka, a fifth of honey jack, and that large bag of Takis. After having just cashed out from a recent freelance gig, I was ready to win some money. Hunter.S.Thompson said that “Today’s winners are tomorrow’s blinking toads, dumb beasts with no hope.” Well I was a dumb beast and I certainly didn’t have any hope either. I just didn’t know that yet. 

Before I set the scene, let me introduce the characters. My five friends, V, K, I, and A, all law school students in Boston except for me, the lowly writer. K, 6 foot something and long-legged, belting out Celine Dion’s “All Coming Back To Me” —literally that Canadian banshee screaming about the flesh and the fantasies, I’m done—was the captain of our ship, driving us the whole way. Side note: please be sure to remember K, because she is probably one of the main reasons why I’m still alive. Then there’s V sitting in the passenger seat; the no nonsense Indian queen playing JLo and Trey Songz as DJ in the front. I and A, these were the two who got me hooked on the Takis, fueling my addiction for the weekend. 

Our Airbnb house was about a ten minute drive from the shore. The woman who rented her home to us, Meghan, was a thirty-something white woman with an immense affinity for every popular book series ever written ever. Harry Potter, Twilight, and Fifty Shades all carefully lined her bookshelf. The place was spotless, making us feel a little bad that we would soon turn it upside down in a matter of hours and use literally all of Meg’s straws for no apparent reason other than the fact that we just wanted more straws. Sorry Meg. 

Atlantic City is a destitute man’s Vegas. It’s Reno with longer acrylics and bigger hair. You’re not going there to have a classy time and if you are then chica, it’s time to up your standards. AC is the place you go to blackout and then wake up with a new Celtic design tattoo around your ankle with your name over it in Comic Sans. You just have to know what you’re signing up for. And in this case, what you’re signing up for is garbage. 

While I, K and myself were indeed on a mission to get tattoos and piercings, we ended up too inebriated to actually follow through on that plan. Or perhaps, not inebriated enough. We met up with my two friends from California and paced the casinos. Middle aged men parked at light-up Sex and the City slot machines ordering whiskey coke after whiskey coke waiting for $100 to turn to $600 and for $600 to turn to $60,000. A woman at the blackjack table pulled out a grapefruit from her purse, hinting to V that she planned on using the grapefruit method on her man later on at a $15 a night motel. Moments later I had won $170 on a slot machine and had to have a serious talk with myself to stop from blowing it all on shitty merch on the boardwalk. 

Fast forward a few hours. We went out for the night around 1am, standard going out time in AC since the clubs stay open till around 4am. We found ourselves in a club called Dusk, in Caesar’s Palace. Let’s get one thing straight: Dusk was the acid trip from hell in venue form. It smelled like the perfect mixture of fog machine, sweaty armpits, and tequila. Everyone looked like distorted circus versions of who they thought they were. A blacked out woman gyrated by a pole with her white blouse completely unbuttoned to reveal her sequined red bra. Another woman wearing a bridal veil stood by another pole circling it like a vulture on quaaludes. 

After a shot or two of Patron Cafe to take the edge off of Club Hellhole, we eventually decided to call ourselves an Uber. My friend I called it and we hobbled to the hotel pickup area. We all pile in the cab when all of a sudden in the backseat, a woman in a short white dress sits up offended as if we had just walked in on her at home. “No no no, wrong group, wrong group,” she muttered to the cab driver. Nope. This drunk bitch thinks this is her Uber. I tries to set her straight explaining that the way Uber works is that it picks up the person who calls it, not random unidentified drunk bitches in nightgowns. White dress starts flipping out and whips out the claws, lashing at all of us as we all back out of the cab. K, too drunk and confused to move, stays in the cab and stares at all of us with a look like “What in the ever living fuck is happening though?” 

And then tens of girls come out of nowhere. It was a zombie apocalypse but with crispy haired Jersey girls. They all looked like brand ambassadors for Wet Seal and they were screaming without even really knowing what they were screaming about. That’s the thing about AC; the place is buzzing with this aggressive energy that just makes you want to punch someone in the face. You don’t know why but you’re just really pissed off and need someone to know it. 

I look over and see a short, stocky girl with a striped pirate looking t-shirt all up in I’s face.  Being the poor decision maker that I am—blame it on the Patron I suppose—I approach the angry pirate and attempt to teach her a lesson on feminism right there in the hotel parking lot.

“You know, if women would start treating each other better this would never--”

POW. Right. In. The forehead. I placed my hand up and felt the giant welt forming on my forehead and my eyes welled up with tears. “Fuck,” I thought to myself. “Don’t let these bitches see you cry...NAH LET EM SEE.” I cried like a six year old whose ice cream had just been knocked out of her hand. It felt glorious. Meanwhile, three girls had tackled this Uber, trying to get into the car to either commandeer it or maybe just grab some missing shoes, still unclear. Also unclear about what the Uber driver was doing at this point. I do know that as soon as one girl managed to open the car door, K was right there waiting for her with a swift donkey kick to the chest. The girl flew out of the car and these girls quickly realized that unless they all wanted puncture wounds from K’s stiletto heels they were going to have to peace out. Just as fast as the fight started, everything came to a halt. I was picked up by an unknown force and thrown into the car. “You’re all bad people!” my six year old self yelled as I disappeared behind the car door. 

Naturally, crazy pirate lady paid me a visit on my side of the cab to angrily apologize for hitting me in the head. A criminal always returns to the scene of the crime. 

“Look I’m sorry ok!” she barked at me.

“You have no respect for women.” I said, truly disappointed in the female race as I held my hand up to my forehead welt. I felt like a low budget unicorn and it was all that pirate’s fault. There are some people in this world whose faces I would prefer to never see again, this idiot is definitely number one on that list. Girl, bye. I would say “See you in hell” but I don’t even wanna see your ass there. 

So yes, Atlantic City is an absolute disaster area that guarantees drunken debauchery and some degree of fist fighting. We realized the next day that despite the fight being completely idiotic, the underlying theme of friendship was sweet in its own heinous way. These crispy haired monsters were just backing up their girls and so were we. Swollen foreheads all in the name of friendship. Cheers to that. Buy the ticket take the ride, as they say. We bought our tickets, we took the goddamn ride, and now that we were done we found that while our bodies were significantly weaker our friendship was stronger. Like, heavy duty crispy hair gel strong.