Day 33: The Ashram of Myrtle Beach
Beaufort, SC (Population: 13,417)/Beaufort County (2020 Election Results: +10 Trump)
Miles Driven: 174 (5,916.12 total/Cups of Coffee: 2 (86 total)/Lowest Gas Price: $3.99/Number of States Visited: 24
Lodging: Anchorage 1770; I finally splurged on nice digs, in this case a charming B&B in a historic seafront home; porches!
In Myrtle Beach, SC, I got an unexpected lesson in physics.
The second law of thermodynamics states that the amount of entropy (messiness) in the universe is always increasing, or staying the same. After thirty-three days on the road, looking at the pile of rumpled clothes in my suitcase (and those are the clean ones) and the smear of papers and folders in the backseat of the Fusion, I saw just how much entropy was taking over.
I took this trip by car to subject myself to the same road weariness experienced by the men I am writing about, who routinely spent similar stretches of time away from home. One wrestler, B. Brian Blair of the Killer Bees tag team, reported wrestling 67 straight days in the mid-1980s with the WWF. Granted, I'm not getting slammed on a mat of plywood every night or whacked with a steel chair, but the grind is real.
Despite my best intentions, little by little my best practices that keep me healthy and balanced in my normal life have slipped away. I floss once every four or five nights (sorry Dad! he's a dentist); the pledge to not eat in my car has become a joke; my exercise consists of finger curls while squeezing the gas pump handle and wincing at the price display.
It's human nature to let ourselves go. To borrow from biology's Red Queen hypothesis, we have to work like mad just to stay in place, to keep the entropy from increasng. And if there ever was a place for entropy to run wilder than Hulkamania at Wrestlemania 4, it's Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Myrtle Beach is the urban planning equivalent of dumping out the toy prize racks at Chuck E. Cheese onto a strip of undeveloped beach. The Kings Highway strip in particular is an unmitigated explosion of cheap entertainment and gaudy Americana--axe throwing! Mini golf! Fried everything!, with swimwear retail stores named for classic rock bands and 1990s USA Network syndicated franchises; EAGLES! WINGS!
It turns out this descent into D-level decadence is exactly what I need on Day 33 of a nine-week roadie.
Although I spent four consecutive years "vacationing" here in the late nineties and early aughts (and I put vacationing in quotes because a trip in which your singular purpose is to get as fucked up as you can with your fraternity brothers on the beach is an insult to the word), my memories of this place are dim to none.
Sometimes to get back to where we want to be, we have to venture far afield. So after a night of indulgence in Kings Highway, I awoke this morning, saw my bloated gut in the mirror churning with fried chicken and ice cream, and vowed to get back on track. I grabbed my meditation pillow for the first time since Minneapolis (imagine the sight of a guy going into his shitty hotel room carrying a foam roller, meditation pillow, and laser printer), threw it on the sticky floor of the Sunburst Hotel, sat down with my legs crossed, and did nothing.
And then I ate a goddamned salad.
Brad Balukjian is on a nine-week road trip, driving 16,000 miles around the country for his next book, The Six Pack, to be published by Hachette in 2024, about myth vs. reality in pro wrestling and the true identities of 1980s WWF wrestlers. To read past posts, click on the back arrow below.