Jessica Darling Is New Jersey…And So Am I

Me and coworker, Kohr’s Frozen Custard, Casino Pier, Seaside Heights, NJ, 1992.

“When you take a summer job in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, the self-proclaimed Home of Sunnin’ and Funnin’, it pretty much guarantees that you will have no time for either sun or fun.” –SLOPPY FIRSTS

If you’re at all familiar with my work, you know that I poked fun at “Sleazeside Heights” more than a decade before MTV made it a national pastime. But the jokes run deep, people. New Jersey–and its beach communities in particular–plays a huge role in making Jessica Darling who she is and who she wants to be. Why? Because growing up on the Jersey Shore shaped me into the person–and especially the writer–I am.¬†

Me and another coworker, Kohr’s Frozen Custard, Casino Pier, Seaside Heights, NJ, 1992.

“I come home coated in a second skin of funnel-cake grease, chocolate syrup, sea-salt spray and sweat. My ears ring with buzzers and bells and the unz unz beat of the never-ending dance party mega-mix blasting from Life’s a Beach, the clothing store next door that sells T-shirts with slogans like I’M NOT AS THINK AS YOU DRUNK I AM.” –SLOPPY FIRSTS

I’ve been moved to tears by far-flung castastrophe. But for me, my husband, and our families, Hurricane Sandy hit home.


My parents are still without power. My in laws’ house–like a second home to my 10-year-old–took in almost a foot of water. And yet, we all know how fortunate we are. We know people who lost everything.

Me photographed for The Star-Ledger in front of Lucky Leo’s Arcade, Seaside Heights, 2008.

“Basking in a blinking neon glow, these outer-borough heroes stalk elusive prey like the overstuffed Squishy Bears that burst their seams and spill their mini Styrofoam guts the moment the victors sling them over their shoulders. If unsuccessful in their quest, they save face with an air-brushed T-shirt: GINO ‘N’ TINA 4-EVA.”–SLOPPY FIRSTS

This isn’t the most articulate post, but I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that¬†the landscape of my youth is destroyed.

If you have the means, please consider donating to the Jersey Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross which serves the Monmouth and Ocean counties hit hardest.

Jersey strongly yours,

Megan McCafferty