Cape May Journal

Friday, July 20

Last full day! Started out windy and grey, but became better and better. Six consecutive, fine days on the beach. That’s not bad.

The “escalation specialist” from Verizon actually called me this morning, talked to me for 60 seconds, asked me to do three things, and my gizmo is working again, though I’ll miss the Internet café, which had fine iced latté. Why couldn’t the original three people I talked with have given me the same simple instructions?

I have an admission to make. I’m a superb Hearts player. This is a great card game that doesn’t require the anal-retentiveness of bridge nor the supercilious attitude of poker. Through the years, staring in the 70s at Prudential, my record must be something like 675 and 7.

I tell you this because I’m even better at something else, and I’ve never made this public: I have a perfect record in the boardwalk game of Whack-A-Mole, all up and down the Jersey shore. Perfect. Batting 1.000. I’ve never missed a mole. And I’ve never used steroids.

People respectfully gather behind me and men raise their arms for quiet as they do for Tiger Woods with a difficult one-iron shot (whose respective record can’t match mine). My wife stands next to the machine and mutters, “Who, exactly, are you pretending to whack?” but the crowd quickly shushes her. The machine disgorges countless tickets for plastic combs and rubber snakes, which I magnanimously give away to small children and pretty women.

So, in the pantheon of gamers, I subscribe to Frank Lloyd Wright’s great observation: “I’ve often been asked to choose between hypocritical humility and honest arrogance, and have never seen reason to choose the former.”

Dinner tonight at the Ebbitt Room in the Virginia Hotel, small, romantic, classy, with a small combo. Great food, and a burgundy from the reserve list, a 1976 Robert Ampeau Volnay-Santenots. Andrew, our waiter, informs us that he wasn’t born in 1976, and I inform him that this information could affect his gratuity. He suddenly remembers he was born in 1966, but is somehow only 22.

Walking to our room, we spy a young couple on a low balcony, overlooking the parking lot. Perhaps the worst room in the place. But they have a small radio and two glasses of wine. My wife observes, “When you’re young and in love, anyplace can be romantic.”

And, finally, an Ashton Zino Platinum, one of the consistently finest cigars anywhere.

I’ve always maintained that you should look forward to going on vacation and look equally forward to going home. Tomorrow we point the car north, hit the open road, and continue our great adventure.

© Alan Weiss 2007. All rights reserved.

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