If you don’t know what “GTL” is, it means “Gym, Tan, Laundry” and it is the guiding principle of the show Jersey Shore. This is important because Jersey Shore is about New Jersey. New Jersey is very important. I also started pondering this today because Pauly D introduced his quarantine beard via social media. If you click on that link you will see that it is also VERY IMPORTANT.
When Jersey Shore was on the television people from NJ would try to deny that people like the Jersey Shore characters even exist. They tried to turn them into urban legends/folktales/aliens because some of them came from like, “Connecticut” or “Staten Island.” Well guess what, one of them came from “Manalapan,” aka the most stereotypically “Jersey” place I have ever been. And I am pretty Jersey. SO THERE.
Even ten years later, Jersey Shore is very real. The exact type of folks depicted on Jersey Shore are very real. Variations of manifestations of those types of folks are even MORE real. Deal with it. It’s just like The Sorpanos, whenever I watch it I see everyone I’ve ever known or will know. It’s just the way it is.
The time of the year has come for the “T” to be very, VERY important and I would like to reflect on the T.
The T is “tanning.” Keep up.
Tanning is very, very much a thing in New Jersey. I know it probably is elsewhere, but I’m just speaking from my personal experience here. We love to be tan. We really, really do. But along with that love comes the shame and occasional secrecy of a dirty habit that’s really bad for you and WILL give you cancer.
For some of us it started as children.
The backyard pool is where it’s AT. I have photos of myself at 2 years old, wearing a bikini in a backyard pool. I most definitely chose this bikini so you can calm down about THAT.
Breaking out the backyard pool at the beginning of the season was incredible! My niece and nephew only just took theirs out last weekend and I think they probably lost their little minds.
When I was their age I was 100% thinking about getting tan. I think it’s just in my blood. I already was appalled by sunscreen. I liked to see how my skin got darker, my hair got blonder. What an entrancing transformation! I didn’t mind getting burned. I actually kind of liked getting burned because it would give me that summertime feeling of being really hot, like on fire, but then the AC cools you down and it’s delightful.
I got off to a bad start with this tanning thing.
Oh you don’t have a backyard pool? I’m talking about a small inflatable kiddie pool here, we most definitely did not have a real pool…but if you don’t have an inflatable kiddie pool, just being in the backyard in your bathing suit on a sunny day will work. Do it.
It goes without saying that the beach is a place to get tan. I really shouldn’t have to explain it to you. Spend an entire day at the beach and then set up a backyard pool at your rented beach house to catch the late afternoon/early evening sun and you get bonus points.
Yes I used tanning beds. I used tanning beds EXCESSIVELY. It’s going to hurt me, I’m aware. I guess I started when I was like 13? Or maybe you had to be 15? Maybe there weren’t even any rules at that time, it was 1998.
I would get tanning packages that were “discounted” because you bought them in bulk, as packages ARE. I think we also figured out some way to like, be new clients without being “new” and got a better rate. Maybe I’m making this up. You’ll never know.
Going to the tanning salon was the best part of the GOD DAMN DAY. It was really something to look forward to, especially if it was rainy or cold. It was a sacred place to relax and be warm. It smelled like coconuts and tanning lotion. You could close your eyes and pretend you were somewhere that wasn’t NJ in March, which is basically hell.
I put a little palm tree sticker on my butt to track how tan I was getting.
It was a beautiful time.
When I was a junior in high school and got sent to the principal’s office (every day) for wearing “inappropriate outfits,” I would say, “Fuck this I’m going to wear bathing suits to class in college.”
And then I did.
But when I wasn’t in class, I was at “Bishop Beach,” a lawn at Rutgers between Tinsley and some other one where people would “lay out.” And tan. I would walk the 3 minutes from my dorm in my Playboy bunny bikini (oh yes) and black platform flip flop sandals carrying the latest issue of Maxim (for some reason it inspired me) and then I would just lay on Bishop Beach for hours and pretend it was the real beach. I miss Rutgers EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Ugh I can’t believe I’m even writing this but yes I once lived in Hoboken and hated it but the place to tan there was the “downtown pier.”
The downtown pier was the most basic place in the most basic town of all time and I probably would have thrown some random broseph in the Hudson if I didn’t eventually discover the “uptown pier.”
The uptown pier was far superior: much less crowded, more geese, quieter, etc. The bad news is, when I looked this up I found that maybe it’s Pier 13 now. Ugh.
van vorst park.
In the many years that I lived in downtown Jersey City, Van Vorst Park was my go-to spot for tanning. Van Vorst Park is a PARK AMONG PARKS. A REAL PARK’S PARK.
Seriously though Van Vorst Park kicks ass.
There is a fountain, there are so many plants, dogs for doggling. Van Vorst Park is also where Park Punch was created. Drinking while tanning is highly encouraged. Hydration and whatever.
I will end with rooftops, the poor Shan’s beach, park, and pool all in one. Rooftops are black and made of some kind of tar or something so the sun is really drawn to them. You don’t have to sit outside for long to really see results.
These are old buildings I live in, and continue to live in, and will likely live in forever, so a rooftop tan sesh usually involves scaling some kind of fire escape/ladder/wall. Fire escape ladders to the roof are so incredibly steep, like straight up and down. It’s kind of terrifying but worth the view.
Again, I know I’m encouraging tanning but I do feel guilty about it so…leave me alone. Also I do wear SPF 100 on my face, because I have a very important face product regimen that cannot be trifled with. I wear SPF 30 on my body because that will allow me to still get tan but not too red. It usually works.
So that’s my ode to tanning, the “T” in “GTL.” We’ve come a long way together and we’ll continue to enjoy the sunshine on warmer days in the Garden State. Because I think tanning beds are illegal now. But I don’t really want to check because if they AREN’T illegal all bets are off.