Tips on how to be a true Wilmington local this summer
Published: Thursday, April 21, 2011
Updated: Thursday, April 21, 2011 16:04
It's that time of year again. A time when tourists flock to the beaches, crowd the downtown bars and make life here in Wilmington just a little bit harder. Students staying for the summer dream of a fun-filled, action-packed time at the beach, but I say good luck.
It is possible to manage a fun-filled time in lieu of the crowded sands, but first you must embrace the beach lifestyle. In order to have a successful summer as a Wrightsville Beach bum, you should make all of the necessary preparations.
First, find a job that will allow plenty of time off. There is nothing worse than living five minutes away from the beach and never getting your feet wet because you are too busy working. Most of my friends have had luck with waiting tables. The influx of tourists means more business for the local restaurants and, in turn, better tips. Plus, most of your work will be in the evening, which leaves plenty of time during the day to catch waves and walk "the loop."
Second, you have got to change your appearance. Those polo shirts and khakis may have worked well for class, but no self-respecting beach bum would be caught dead in those threads. What you need is a tank top, preferably in an obnoxious color with a retro print on the front. Even more important, make sure you have at least three pairs of board shorts. You may not surf, but those girls with fresh henna tattoos won't know that.
For girls, a proper tan is key. There is nothing more embarrassing than being paler than the out-of-towners, right? Wilmington has so many tanning salons I can't even name them. With so many to choose from, you will have ample opportunity to get a head start.
The third thing you should do to prepare for the summer is to remove your student parking sticker and replace it with Wrightsville Beach bumper stickers. After all, only a true local would have a WB sticker on the back of their car. Another one of my favorite bumper stickers is "I-40 West… Use it." Either of these will stamp your car as local. Tourists will have no problem recognizing you as a resident of the area and will give you due respect when navigating the public parking accesses.
It is also important that you do not go hungry over the summer. Since most of us who stay in Wilmington for the summer pay our own rent, cheap food is a must. The deals are always found at the beach, but be careful. If you go at the wrong time, you will be waiting in a long line of tourists and may pay more than you thought you would. Learn the local spots and the days they have deals. Jerry Allen's half-price menu is always a good option. Want pizza? Vito's serves two slices and a drink for $5.50. And for the late night menu, it's hard to beat a hot dog from the Trolley Stop — heavy on the chili.
Lastly, when you go out, make sure you sit at the entrance of each bar and talk to the bouncers. You should try to call them by name and do this loud enough so that passers-by will hear. When you are inside, be sure to complain about how crowded it is and how you're leaving for a more "local" place. The tourists around you will be impressed by your local knowledge.
Beach life is a simple life. The Wilmington summer beckons you to leave your worries and cares behind. The bridge to WB is a short walk and even if you have never adorned a pair of Sanuks — I prefer bare feet — your heart will guide your steps to the crowded shores of its warm waters.