Breaking up…With Your Beach House

“I think the beach scene has jumped the shark,” a mid-30s single Hobokenite and Sea Girter told me recently.

She was using a TV term that means a show has hit its peak and the plot had become so ridiculous that it is no longer enjoyable; such was the case of Happy Days when Fonzie jumped a great white on water skis while still wearing his leather jacket. “It’s just the same thing over and over again.”

For those addicted to the shore, this kind of apathy is common when hitting multiple year anniversaries of doing summer beach houses. It’s an even more common sentiment when trapped in a share situation that went too well years ago.

Wait, can it be such a bad thing when something goes too well in a beach house?

You bet your sandy ass it can…

Let’s say you had a phenomenal beach house class in 2003, and I’m not talking about the property, location or amenities, but the makeup of its people. Barring overpaid property value circumstances—some refer to this as Manasquan rentals—the rapport between house members is what ultimately decides if a summer is absolutely magnificent or utterly average.

When reviewing a summer in September, a house that went well meant it was majestic, magnificent. But since everyone from that hypothetical 2003 house eventually became friends, perhaps lovers, or bedmates who later decided to be friends, no one is compelled to leave that house the following year or the year after because of the comfort factor that comes from getting along so, well, well.

Which is the goal of all roommates, right?

For everyone to get along?

Um, well, yes…but to a point.

Think about it: If you decided to mix things up and join another house, how would your friends feel if you announced one winter night that you were leaving because, while you really enjoy everyone in the house, you just can’t stand that summer has become so stale.

So predictable…

It really is the same thing over and over again.

With the same nice people in the same damn house…

And that simply is not acceptable.

Where’s the Fonz when you need him?

Especially when your house has morphed into 12 Potsies and 12 Jenny Piccolos….

But there are others in Spring Lake or LBI to socialize with, yes? Your house may have 25 people that you already romanced or decided long ago that you never, ever will, but there are 250 others in the bar to palm press and perhaps get to know better as well.

But in the vastly unexplored scenario of, I don’t know, actually meeting other people, you quickly feel like one of those dogs that wear those collars that shock you when you go beyond the invisible boundaries of your backyard. You see all of those other fun folks 10 feet away…their faces actually fresh, their conversation compelling. Plus, they all appear to be single.

Curiosity with a splash of jealously prompts you to look to leave your group, but your housemates have subconsciously formed this circle around you like you’re Caesar in his final minutes.

Escape to the bathroom, you think. But like a classic Eagles song, “You can check out anytime you like…but you can never leave.” Upon coming back from the john, it’s like that tractor beam out of Sci-Fi channel show is pulling you back to the group. Your peripheral vision has been mysteriously eliminated. You’re walking a beeline past all of these nocturnal natives that you could at least make eye contact with, but 20 seconds later, you’re back in that fucking circle of predictability.

I mean, it’s nice, but so is taking your Aunt to an art gallery on a Sunday afternoon.

“But my housemates have friends that can open up some fun possibilities,” you think. But you’ve already met some of them in 2003, and in 2004 you dated one of them for awhile…nothing that forced you to start thinking about adding his and her monogrammed towels in the bathroom, but enough where dropping the L word was briefly mulled over. It was nothing terribly serious, but nevertheless momentous enough to put a neon scarlet letter with your first initial on his or her forehead the size of the Laverne cursive “L” from that other hit 70s show.

Face it; once you’ve been with one friend in more than a hook-up situation, you’re banned goods in terms of being with any other friends from his or her group…unless your “friends” end up being lying scumbags, of course.

…which is another reason why multiple years with the same shares are even more subtlety torturous.

“Will all of my housemates be insulted if I break up with my shore house?” you ask yourself. “Of course, I’ll need to poach and take one or two of them with me. But if I do that, the rest will feel shunned, like they didn’t make the guest cut at my future wedding.”

Imagine that scenario the first time you’re out with your mates from your fresh new house and see your old house:

They’ll all think that you were too good to be with them anymore.

They’ll envy you (in a negative way) for getting out of their mob family that ruled the streets once but have faded into the twilight since.

Talking behind people’s backs is as common at the beach as sea shells by the sea shore, and guess who will be conversation #1 the first night out since the breakup.

Hint: It won’t be JC, for once…

From a personal perspective, as a house manager I’ve been luckier than Adrian Granier…the guy who gets to play Vinny Chase on the best show on television in seven years, Entourage. For three years, I’ve had tremendous people in the Sea Girt residence dubiously dubbed by one perpetual guest as “Incest Fest” and couldn’t be more content with the way our shares have complimented each other so well. Three engagements later, between six former members of the house, there may be hope yet that things can actually be considered real down in a world that is usually anything but.

Some wet mops have questioned my methods in building Incest Fest…the impious interviewing process, the 80 percent rejection rate of those whom I felt wouldn’t mesh well with existing members, the hazing…but ultimately we have been blessed by the fact that some members haven’t come back, due to engagements, job transfers, actually maturing, to make room for the new class.

Brenda Walsh out.

Valerie Malone in.

Javier Vasquez out.

Randy Johnson in.

Shake well.

And so on…

We lose half, we keep half, we add half, and I’d be less than truthful if I didn’t say that an evil smirk comes to my face when some existing members declare they can’t resign a one-year contract the following year. In fact, I actually secretly root for it like the way I root against the Yankees. And adding half isn’t exactly a handful when half of 34 is an entire shore house to some.

The more things stay the same, the more they change.

But this process of rebuilding and reloading while keeping a quality core group doesn’t happen for a majority of beach houses, not even close. Like a fart in a closet, some members simply linger, apprehensive of trying anything new, or terrified of the ramifications of divorcing an entity.

Has the beach jumped the shark?

Well, it wouldn’t if some of its veterans boldly jumped out of their situation in search of greener pastures…

Or in this case, more golden sands…

Joe Concha is senior writer and Sea Girt’s favorite son (possibly for all the unorthodox revenue-producing schemes he’s created for the town).