There are worse places than the Eastern Seaboard to be sober. Sort of.
Cape Fear is a foreboding name for one of America’s fastest growing retirement communities. Best known for the two scary movies with the same title, Cape Fear is in southeast North Carolina and home to about 300,000 people. The Cape begins in Wilmington, a racially segregated port city located on the Cape Fear River’s eastern bank, and runs twenty miles to the delta. Wilmington runs east to the Inter-Coastal Waterway, which cuts it off from the beach. Along the Cape Fear coast are various beach towns that are a like an upscale Myrtle Beach on Valium. Finally you hit Fort Fisher, an old military base, now a lovely state park.
While on Cape Fear, I decided to be relatively sober for the first time in a decade or so. What did I learn? I hate being sober.
My mother recently joined the Social Security set in metro Wilmington. She moved from pastoral New Hampshire to a gated community of clone homes with a central “activity center,” all wrapped by man-made creeks and ponds and golf courses. There’s even an on-call goose catcher. I visited this spring both to see my mother and complete a class on over-boozing and do community service required to get my license back for a DUI charge.
While on Cape Fear, I decided to be relatively sober for the first time in a decade or so. For over a month, I barely drank and didn’t smoke weed or do illegal drugs. What did I learn? I hate being sober. But also that breaks aren’t a bad thing, especially given my age, 36, and the need for certain organs to live.
Here is a sober look at a beautiful but racially segregated slice of the south. My mom wouldn’t let me get out of the car in most of Wilmington, mainly because she works on 15 minute intervals–“I told Vickie I would cook apple pie with her at 2:45!”–but also because she is afraid of the local black population.
1. The beach at Fort Fisher State Park is perfect.
2. Caribbean pastels are popular on the beach for houses and commercial property. (So are golf carts and Caddies.)
3. These same colors have always been popular with my mom.
4. Spotted this couple walking into the movie house at the mall–New England WASP-rapper-clown style was in with local high school males.
5. You can also live at the mall.
6. And buy Jet Skis without even going into a Jet Ski store.
7. My mom’s wine collection is mostly horrible $7 bottle Cali crap she got as gifts. But one afternoon I spotted a bootle of fucking Crys! It’s a ’99, too, great vintage and worth $500 or so. Unfortunately I was not drinking and we placed the Crystal back on the rack. Still pretty baller…
8. My mom’s collection of pills is slightly better. Do they just give every person over 50 in America pill-heroin? Yes.
9. The heroin pill made my sobriety feel a lot better. This FDA approved medicine is great! I was so high I even believed the preseason reports that the Red Sox would win the World Series (they finished last).
10. Community service: These people are homeless or so poor they get food and clothing from a church.
11. This young lady at the church wanted a new couch, which was deemed too ambitious by the nuns. Instead she got…
12.. …these US Gov-issued carrots.
13. These are the awesomely ridiculous clothes–is that a beeper?–worn by a white person at the retirement community golf course. Black people do not tend to live in the the communities I visited, according to residents.
14. Like the golf club members, oysters here are big and flabby, but less salient than their North Atlantic cousins.
15. Don’t fear the Cape Fear River in Wilmington, even though this summer a bunch of people got bitten by sharks on the delta beaches and a great white was spotted right by this bridge…
16. The shark attacks came because so many people were fishing off these piers. I think they banned the fishing.