Point Pleasant Beach, NJ
It’s 6:30 in the morning, and I’m sitting on a small beach chair on our terrace overlooking the Atlantic, which is so serene it’s as if it’s asking permission to come on shore. There’s a light drizzle falling despite the newly-arisen sun, which is why I’m not using the regular furniture out here, but rather cowering under an eave with my lap top.
We dined with the family last night in a local landmark, Graziano’s, which has good but not great old-fashioned southern Italian food. The owner herself personally cooks only on Sunday, which she’s done for 47 years, and is a good reason to avoid the place. I was wondering why it was unusually unoccupied until it took over an hour for our meals to appear. The regulars obviously know this. She’s the owner, she can do that if she wants to, but decent food doesn’t overcome extraordinary ineptitude.
I bought a “credit card” for $40 at one of the arcades last night, which I can swipe in any of hundreds of machines in our insatiable quest to win the granddaughters 100,000,000 points so that they can buy a A380 for free. It’s a funny sequence: You swipe the card to play the game, the game upchucks tickets for the points you acquire, you then take the tickets (thousands of them bound in a long train) to the ticket-eating machine, which gobbles them up like some kind of rejected creature from the Muppets, and then issues a credit slip, which you take the counter where a human writes you a “check” for the credits which can be used for years (I kid you not). I get my kicks from the ticket-eating machine which is both bizarre and frightening, and I’ve been known to tell small kids in line that I was there before them even though I’m really referring to being on earth before them.
The economy is thriving. For the past two years here we’ve seen “vacancy” signs and easily negotiable crowds on the boardwalk and piers. No longer—all the signs are “no vacancy,” traffic is much thicker, and the boardwalk is jammed. These beach resorts are the destination of middle class America (and the odd Canadians who keep apologizing for bumping into you even when it wasn’t them) and people are clearly spending again. (It’s not cheap to come for a long weekend or a week, counting gas, lodging, food (even casual food), beach passes, rentals, games, rides, souvenirs, and so forth.
The rain is letting up, and the 1,876th jogger/runner has passed my perch (no bikes allowed). I admire their intent and I’m sure they have the goal of maintaining this exercise post-vacation, but that isn’t going to happen for most of them. That’s because they mostly return to “work” and “jobs,” wherein I don’t have to, because my career is involved with making these kinds of observations.
And now I’m done.
© Alan Weiss 2014