I just posted a comment in the journal of njfatalcorps (my brother’s friend) that made me think of some of the crazy things The PAC did during the summer after my senior year in high school.
That spring, Mike and I started hanging out with Brian and Stacey. Brian had been Mike’s best friend for a few years, and I’ve known Stacey since my sophomore year. The two of them started to have some silly sort of dating/bickering relationship that didn’t last very long, and our little foursome didn’t last through the end of the summer, but it was a lot of fun while it lasted.
I think it all started when Brian came back into town to see the Wall High School production of Gypsy, or it could have began after my surprise 18th birthday party. Either way, we started going to concerts and movies together, and once it got warm, we began to frequent Great Adventure quite a lot. One night, Mike won this orange-and-white stuffed clownfish at one of those games in the park. We played football with it all the way out to the parking lot, and it became our official mascot once we reached my Volvo. It was permanently placed in my rear window, and we subsequently won more and more goldfish to put in the windows of Mike’s Ranger, Stacey’s Altima, and Brian’s new silver GMC truck. (That was the summer that Brian was obsessed with Ricky Martin — he had the cover of the cassette taped to his window right above the fish.)
It was some time after the winning of the fish that we decided on “The PAC” as our name. It stood for something, but I can’t remember what anymore. Stacey and Brian started “seeing each other” or something, and we’d always go to visit him while he was working behind the deli counter at the Sea Girt FoodTown.
We ended up forming a team to participate in one of the bowling leagues at the Lanes at Sea Girt where Mike worked — the Busch Gardens league. (That was also the summer of my high bowling score: a 191.)
I have pictures of us all doing the most random things. One night comes to mind especially. We were all hanging out in the Intermediate School parking lot after something (our siblings’ band concert, perhaps?) taking pictures — Stacey, Brian and I in the sunroof of the Volvo, Mike and Brian straddling the roof of the truck and the Volvo, Mike giving me and Stacey piggy-back rides, etc.
As the summer wore on, we began to get a little testy with each other, and things went downhill. We all got into a devastating argument at a Buck-O-Nine concert at the Skate Park in Asbury Park one night, and although we tried to make up at the diner afterwards, I think that was the beginning of the end of Mike and Brian being best friends. Mike and I started to argue over my friendship with Brian, and then, Brian pushed Stacey into my pool one day, and she chipped her tooth — what a disaster.
In an effort to have an end-of-the-summer bash and salvage The PAC, I suggested we all take a trip up to Rome, NY to Woodstock ’99. We all agreed it was an excellent plan and stayed up all night at the FoodTown in Neptune to buy our tickets at the TicketMaster there. At $150, the ticket was a little too expensive for Brian, so Mike fronted him the money. We were all totally excited, and couldn’t wait for our three-day musical excursion.
Unfortunately, things never seem to go as planned. Despite much creative pleading and bargaining, Stacey’s mother couldn’t be convinced to consent to her attending Woodstock ’99 — even after we wrote a faux news article explaining that my mom had agreed to chaperone the trip. My mom came anyway — she bought Stacey’s ticket. In the end, Brian opted out of the trip, too, without ever paying Mike back the $150. The two of them never really spoke again after that, and by the time we got back, Brian had decided to move to Minnesota with some people he’d met working at FoodTown.
Woodstock was a blast, but a bittersweet end to The PAC and the summer of 1999. I suppose it was better that way — Mike and I were able to spend some time alone before parting ways for school at the end of August — but it was sad, too. Our little group didn’t last very long, but we had so much fun — sneaking out in the middle of the night to pick up Mike at the Mobile station on Belmar Blvd., playing pool at Sharkey’s in Brick, hangin’ out at Great Adventure, giggling over our inside jokes about moe., Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum, and Jar Jar, and driving around with a bunch of bright-colored-but-slowly-fading-in-the-sun fishies in our cars.
I haven’t heard from Brian since sometime in 2000, and I rarely talk to Mike and Stacey anymore, but that orange fish is still right here on the floor in my room, and I’ll never forget the summer of The PAC.