"There was an article in the Times about homeless people taking the bus to Atlantic City, and I was totally inspired," Rebecca Aronauer said from her Brooklyn apartment the other day. The inspiration was for Inconvenience Day, Aronauer's bi-annual birthday celebration, and the idea was to take a bus from Chinatown in Manhattan to Atlantic City in New Jersey. For everyone she knew, the trip would be a huge inconvenience. "I have friends from Jersey, and even they say Atlantic City is a pain to get to."
Two birthdays ago, Aronauer's twenty-third, she gathered her friends in Park Slope, where she was then living, for a trip to the Aquarium at Coney Island. "The Coney Island part wasn't that bad," Aronauer explains, slightly smirking. "Taking the F to Park Slope on the weekend: that was the real killer"
This year's Inconvenience Day planning began early, with an email sent in January. Subject: "Prepare For Inconvenience That Will Dwarf All Other Inconveniences." The body contained a date, March 29, a link to the original Times article, and a cryptic note: "Details to follow." Over the course of the next few months, friends received those details: "Inconvenient T-shirts," "Inconvenient Reminder: Inconvenience Day Is Coming Up," "Conveniently, the Last Email About Inconvenience Day" and finally, "Even I Can't Say The Word Any More." ("It was all I could do not to email everyone back to correct that 'any more,'" Aronauer said. "I was so embarrassed.")
So on Saturday, a group of about a dozen or so twenty and thirty-somethings met at Port Authority—Chinatown and the homeless proved to be too inconvenient, even for Aronauer—and headed off to Atlantic City. Each was wearing a yellow t-shirt with "I Was Inconvenienced And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt" in grey lettering. ("Yellow?" a high school friend asked. "No one looks good in yellow!" "That's a bonus inconvenience," Aronauer replied.) The group sat together on the bus, a garrulous sea of yellow amid quiet grey and black regulars, who were patiently awaiting their arrival in Atlantic City. "We must seem so obnoxiously ironic," said one. Among the guests was a couple whom Aronauer had included in hopes of being invited to their inevitable wedding. "I'm so glad you came," Aronauer said to the future wife. "I'm really glad you're glad," she replied.
The scope of a college friend's inconvenience was made clear upon the group's arrival. Once there, she promptly had to find her return bus to Manhattan, where she was to celebrate her younger brother's birthday. "This really was inconvenient," she said.
The rest of the group cashed in their $21 gambling vouchers and began exploring. At the first hotel, the clientèle seemed helplessly addicted to the slot machines. The haze of smoke hovering above the tables reminded the assembled revelers that they were a long way off from home. Aronauer expressed some concern that she had taken her friends to a "zoo for gambling addicts."
So, to the boardwalk they went. Conveniently, the weather was sunny and warm. The Atlantic City boardwalk has all the amenities of seaside living: fried dough, gyros and street performers. One man, with a dark tan and an open, empty smile, stood singing syllables with a white plastic cup in front of him. "That man is really working," Aronauer said to a friend. "It's not work if you love what you do," the friend answered.
Passing the group to the right and the left were rickshaw drivers pushing groups in wheeled carts. Aronauer ran up to take a shot of two plump women, who sat comfortably as the man behind them struggled to maintain their momentum. "Don't worry," a friend shouted. "These people are used to the paparazzi."
By 8, it was time to head home. One friend won big in roulette, but most gamblers had lost to the house. Aronauer herself didn't place any bets. "Gambling's kind of stupid, don't you think?" she said, waiting to board the 8:10 local back to Port Authority.
As for her the next Inconvenience Day, sometime in March 2010, Aronauer isn't sure. "It's going to be hard to put people out as much as this year," she said, slightly concerned. "But I already have an idea for a summer party: A cultural misappropriation costume gala. It's not going to be too offensive; the misappropriation is limited to New York neighborhoods. You should crash. Wax your eyebrows and come as a Chelsea boy."
Editor's Note: Today marks the end of Rebecca Aronauer's guest spot at Gawker. She'll be back to fill in later this month and is actively looking for writing opportunities and health care. If you have either, drop her a line.