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Author: Vincent Procopio

Neighborhood: Ocean Beach

Age: 39

Occupation: Unemployed

Yeah, that’s right. ­It’s O.B., baby, a haunted seaside saltdream floating across the space-time grid like a languid specter in blank half-smile. An anachronistic funhouse full ­o’ bleary-eyed skellys shuffling down Newport in search of something they will never find in Ocean ­Beach.

My fat little hands pecking away on this old white laptop is our docent for ­today’s tour. No tipping, please. ­I’m sorry to have to peel back the shimmering, hazy layers in turncoat exposé, but ­somebody’s got to do it. Our final destination: a gentle tug of the veil, and a quick glimpse of oblivion. Now look into my bloated, pasty face, while actively resisting the urge to slap it. Keep looking…into my sad, tired eyes…­don’t look away, ­we’re almost there…okay, there we go. ­You’re on board. Up we go, up into the sky, looking down at our beach town getting smaller and smaller until our perspective pulls into sharp focus. ­Don’t be scared. I just wanna show you. Okay, we’re at the point of tangency — the veil — and ­I’m getting ready to give it a good yank. Do you really want to wake up? Wanna peek? Are you sure? Well, um, okay, you betcha. But ­don’t say I ­didn’t warn you flinty-eyed riddlers, along with your crunchy ­li’l sidekicks with their hopeful eyes and freckly ­sassmouths.

God, please forgive my haughty paintbrush and force my hand into clumsy and overbroad strokes, for this quaint little beach neighborhood is steeped in horrible biblical secrets. A gray rectangular purgatory in festive beachtown masquerade, so-called “Ocean Beach” revolves end-over-end through the windblown vacuum of the lightless gulf, collecting the heartless and unmerciful like broken, colorless seashells strewn across the sandy expanse. A crowded collage of weeping faces leers out of the hazed-over windows of this weird seaside purgatory, desperately jockeying for a better view. These faces, our faces, scan a hopeless ocean from the seawall at the end of Newport Avenue, crowded together for a peek of forgiveness we know we ­don’t deserve…and know we will never get. ­It’s cool, though. Because we have a very special consolation prize. We have each other. Tepidly yours in haze-blue desolation. ­Let’s go pop a coldy and gum down some greasy taco slop. Then ­let’s make dead love under an angry Ocean Beach moon. ­Don’t worry. ­I’ll pull ­out.

Yeah, I saw Valley Girl. Yeah, I pop my collar so I, too, can be painted into this California van Gogh, rendered in disturbing shades of gingiva pink and neurotic blue by the unsung hand quivering in self-doubt. Yeah, my diaper is quite full of how cool ­I’m not but how cool you are because of your dope tats and threat of your impending pimpslap… unless I avert my gaze in time. And I will never view your ­girlfriend’s buttocks bulbously gift-wrapped in damp Lycra again. Promise. Please ­don’t whup my fat rump, ­I’m just a quiet little writer. Thanks, ­sir.

SeekersButNeverFinders they are, bused in from all points east. God, fulfill just one dream for one lost-and-broken girl or guy. Spare some change? Yeah, okay. But please go home before ­it’s too late and you drink too deeply from this cup full of these strange mists rolling in from an ocean who loves you but is not in love with ­you.

I rolled in from the stifling Eastern cocktail party of compliant hobnobbery, and I share your dead ocean dreams, your blank-faced group-sex parties in the ­li’l house on Cape May (you know the one). I share your late-night hunting instincts, your restless sleep under malevolent starlight, your kissy-face beach vanity, your turgid egotism. I share your collective uneasiness, your dry-eyed weep across time. I share your forsaken town, and I love it more than you love ­yourself.

Love the dead-eyed whore that is Ocean Beach, but then leave…in time…before ­it’s too late. But always remember her salty pleasures, her sloppy eager kisses, her raspy voice, her rough hands, her pungent halibut flesh. Remember there exists a forsaken seaside purgatory disguised in bright paint and guilty pleasures. Remember Ocean ­Beach.

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