Seaside Pick-Me-Up

For some, Sunday is a day of rest, prayer, and reflection; for others, it's the best night of the week to pick up, thanks to JB's on the Beach. On a recent blustery Sunday eve, the wind whipped foliage and hairdos westward, and updrafts lifted fabrics heavenward — but this didn't thwart the party.

As the ocean roiled beneath the Deerfield Beach pier, the bodies at JB's churned on the dance floor. Perhaps, in fact, the weather helped. Charles Gomes, a 24-year-old Brazilian who had had to forego his usual game of beach volleyball, was spending his energies trying to score here instead.

My friend Christine and I usually dished about our lives and relationships as we lounged on beach towels and Day-Glo dirigibles, but since we didn't want to be sand-blasted or washed out to sea by a rogue wave, JB's was the closest we'd get to a beach-and-bitch session this stormy weekend. The porch was no place for girl talk, however. The band Gypsy Lane was pumping out music so loud that it drowned out all but shouted conversation, so we headed indoors, away from the seaside ambience.

Inside, the scene was comparatively quiet, though the danceable Top 40 cover songs from outside still rattled through the place. Most of the crowd here were small groups of same-gender friends, clearly looking for some company. The crowd was diverse, spanning generations, races, and fashion trends. Twenty-something hotties in tank tops and flip-flops, biological-clock watchers in animal prints, and Baby Boomers in thigh-high boots and dog collars worked the scene with pretty boys with liberal amounts of hair product, businessmen kicking back in Hawaiian prints and khakis, and balding men with untamed side fringe. The singles smorgasbord was something for nearly every taste, including those with none at all.

Take the good-looking brunet in the red tank and jeans, for example. Nothing too wrong with the pot-bellied guy in the polo shirt that she held hands with. More questionable was the other middle-aged guy in the Hawaiian shirt who sucked her neck like he was swallowing a raw oyster. Christine and I watched while the two simultaneously worked her — rubbing her shoulders, stroking her skin, kissing her in various places. When Polo-shirt guy starting lovingly smoothing back his buddy's hair, I had to interject.

"It looks like a threesome!"

"Doesn't it?" Hawaiian-shirt guy said, dallying for a moment with his own observation about Christine: "You look like that actress, the young pretty one from One Day at a Time." While my friend chewed on the fact that Valerie Bertinelli had recently gotten as big as a Jenny Craig spokesperson, Hawaiian-shirt guy sucked the brunet's fingers.

On the other side of us, a singleton was finishing her dinner. Q. Morton, a nurse, had come out in a knee-length skirt and conservative top. This was her second time in three years at this "regular Sunday night thing." At 32, she was still single.

"But I'm hoping," she said. "All my friends are married or have boyfriends, so I have to get out there."

Online dating wasn't for "a people person" like her, she said, so she'd designated her hunting grounds as anywhere she could drive in 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, a guy with a wildly hopeful look must have also considered himself a people person. "Let's see if we take a good picture together — we'll see if we're compatible," he said, extending his camera so Christine could take our photo.

After squeezing the lime into my beer, I humored him. "Peter from Florida" liked how the photo came out, so he made lots of small talk — he's a CPA, his business is first in the phone book, he likes smart girls, and he likes JB's because "it has a good island atmosphere... like Magnum P.I. meets Don Johnson."

I indulged him until he began calling himself "Mr. Right." Then I excused myself to escape him, though he stalked me the rest of the evening.

Leaving Christine with Q. — since the two were now making friends with two guys with shaved heads who'd tried to pass themselves off as two-thirds of the Blue Man Group — I insinuated myself into a small posse at the railing overlooking the dining room. Looking out at a rainbow-sailed Hobie Cat, which served as the focal point in the airy space of the otherwise white room, the festive crew were regulars, including Kim Ross, who was celebrating her 45th birthday.

"I got spanked!" she told me when I asked how she'd celebrated so far. She'd participated in some of the wild JB's happenings, including bar-top dancing.

"Last week, there was a spanking party right over there — eight of us," she said.

When I asked what she liked about the place, her pint-sized friend Mona interjected: "They've got the hottest guys — they come from all around."

When I asked for some proof, she entered 26-year-old Paul Montone as her exhibit A. He was reasonably attractive — well-built with what seemed to be a thick head of hair under his backward Corona ball cap — but I wondered about the "I heart Capt. Jack Sparrow" wristband.

Montone, who had imbibed "a few strong ones," began singing JB's praises before I could ask about his accessory.

"The atmosphere is phenomenal, top down," he said. "I haven't tasted the food because the drinks are so heavy. Why eat when you can drink?

"I develop relationships," he told me when I asked his line of work. "The difference between me and most is, I deliver results," he said, swaggering though he stood in place, an effect that seemed to be the cumulative result of the pirate wristband, the alcohol, and a healthy ego.

Since Capt. Jack had already won his heart, I moved on. Outside, among those following the keyboardist's command to "put your hands in the air," were hotties of all sorts — made more attractive, experience tells me, by the fact that conversation was impossible. So I eyed the muscled back of one tall stud through his cotton T-shirt until I found a better diversion — two guys with bagpipes under their arms stood at the far end of the bar, away from the band.

With disarmingly perfect smiles created by the same dentist, John Fischer and Doug Watson told me they are firefighters who come to the beach regularly to practice for PBC Pipes and Drums. They agreed that their roles — especially the kilts — drew the babes.

"Must be hard to be a man's man in a skirt," I joked.

"I'm now very comfortable with my male sexuality," Fischer said while holding what looked to be nine or ten inches of his instrument's blowpipe.

I spotted Christine at the outdoor bar, a glass of water in hand. Q., she pointed out, was shaking what her mama gave her on the dance floor with a skinny guy in a plaid shirt.

'Thank God it's never come to this," Christine remarked, observing the singles scene.

As we headed out along the beach sidewalk toward our car, the scent of desperation and cigarette smoke dissipated with our worries in the sea spray and moonlight.

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Marya Summers