Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Bubble Bath, Part 9

   Editor’s Note: After sitting quietly for a while on the beach at Atlantic City, we finally decide that it’s time to move back into civilization, mainly because the sun is quickly dropping over the horizon, and we all know that horrible things happen to innocent people on beaches when darkness descends. Since we still have several places to visit on this vacation, it would throw a kink into things if one of us should perish unnaturally near a decaying pier…

  We gather our bags of souvenirs and various footwear, heading toward some nice wooden steps that will give us access to the Boardwalk. Halfway to our destination, we realize something shocking: The sand is evil.

  Oh, sure, the sand was our friend back when we were playing in the water, dashing about and splashing, or just standing there while the waves rush back out, creating that delicious sensation of the sand disintegrating under our feet. We loved the sand at that point in our lives. But now our relationship has changed, as relationships always do if you spend too much time with someone and get glimpses of unsavory behavior and questionable activity. Everyone disappoints you in the end.

  First, the sand beguiled us with innocent-appearing patches of sand that seemed to be devoid of broken shell pieces that could lacerate your unprotected feet. This was a lie. There was actually a fine layer of the sand hiding daggers of death, silent slicers that would leave you with bloody stubs. The trust in our budding relationship was completely destroyed because of this, and once the trust goes, it’s only a matter of time before the bitter catfight which ends in tears, with one of you being forced to pack your bags and find somewhere else to live.

  Next we have the odd behavior of the sand itself. Just lying on the beach, the grains were a nice off-white, perhaps a very light gray, but definitely on the white end of the spectrum. Yet once the grains had transitioned from relaxing on the beach to hitching a ride on your dampened legs and feet, an astonishing transformation took place. The grains turned an ugly dark gray, and they stayed that way even when things dried off, the sand now a paste of crackling darkness.

  With my pant-legs rolled up, I looked like a shoeless hillbilly coal miner.

  Well, no worries, I initially thought. After all, during our earlier trek along the Boardwalk we had spied little ocean-side showers where happy, tanned swimmers had been professionally rinsing off the beach debris. We’d just find one of those, right?

  So there we were, traipsing along the boardwalk, fully convinced that we would soon run across one of these comfort stations and could wash away our sins. This did not immediately happen. In fact, it never happened. Apparently, while we were frolicking in the water and completely distracted, someone had come along and stolen all the showers. They were nowhere to be found.

  And since we were still barefoot and slightly damp, our feet were now attracting other hitch-hiking parasites. Road tar, used bubble gum, cigarette butts. All of the world’s detritus was making a beeline to our coal-encrusted tootsies. From the knee down, we looked like some scaly monster from the deep who had arisen from his flooded cave of despair, and was now determined to snack on common sense-challenged coeds who were stupidly standing around and thinking about having sex with the star of the movie instead of fleeing for their lives and thus making it into the inevitable sequel.

  Bubbles finally had enough of that mess. She trounced off to a nearby concession stand, intent on purchasing a bottle of water so we could take impromptu sponge baths. Without the sponge, or a nursing assistant who could do the work for us. While she bartered with the proprietor, probably scaring him into giving her a discount since she wasn’t going to actually drink her purchase, Terry and I just stood there and pretended like we meant to look like walking road kill, and we were just fine with our lives, thank you very much, so quit staring, you ugly people who can’t wash away your nasty appearance.

  Bubbles returned, and we commenced splashing liquid on our feet, doing our best to make things pretty again. This was mostly successful, though I could still feel grittiness when I finally slipped back into my tennis shoes. I would probably greatly regret this condition at some point in the near future, but at the moment I was quite pleased that my feet were no longer in direct, intimate contact with bird poo, unexplained saliva, and various crime-scene fluids on the sticky surface of the Boardwalk.

  All of this hygienic activity proved to be very taxing, thus resulting in slight hunger on our parts, so we then headed to another nearby shop where they were serving the ultimate in healthy, nutritious fare: funnel cakes.

  Now, everyone loves funnel cakes, so I don’t really need to go into the specific pleasures of such. (Seriously, have you ever met anybody who took a bite of one, spit it out, and swore to never touch the powdered-sugar mess again? No, you have not.) Bubbles obtained our treat, and then we retired to a nice patio table so we could people-watch as we consumed grease-dripping bread.

  Night had fully fallen, so there was a definite change in the parade of humankind on the Boardwalk. Most of the children had disappeared, although there was still an alarming number of the little urchins running about and doing irritating things, each of them a firm example of why state-enforced birth control is not necessarily a bad idea. Likewise, a big chunk of the Blue-Hairs had gotten back on the buses and returned to their assisted-care living facilities.

  Which mostly left people about our age, some a little older and some a little younger. And 97% of them were drunk.

  Of course, you can’t really blame them for being such. After all, Atlantic City was an entertainment destination, with gambling all over the place, enough massage parlors to soothe the entire populations of certain Western states, and thinly-veiled “ladies and gentlemen of the evening”, prowling up and down the Boardwalk and waiting for rich, horny old men to stumble along so they can offer personal tours in the comfort of a hotel room of their choosing. Alcohol was available everywhere. You couldn’t throw a piece of funnel cake in any direction without hitting an establishment with a liquor license.

  Thusly, people were drinking. A lot.

  There are three basic types of public drunkenness. In our first group, we have the people who are just feeling really good. You might not even know that they are somewhat tipsy, except that they are giggling just a wee bit too much, and they are talking with a little more force than is normally required to activate one’s vocal cords. These people are generally fun to be around, because giggling is infectious and talking loud has its merits, especially if they are babbling about your outfit or a certain skill that you might possess. It’s always nice to be flattered in a vociferous manner. And at this level of civil inebriation, even the most boring sober person in the world can manage to appear interesting once they’ve had a shot of tequila.

  Next we have the people who have consumed enough liquor that they are starting to forget about things like personal boundaries and the legality of their actions. They share TOO much, and it’s hard to find their “off” button. These are the people who will show you the tattoo on their butt, even though all you wanted them to do was pass the salt. They are usually more obsessed with sexual activity than one would find appropriate, often digging a small photo album out of their purse to illustrate exactly what they mean. They are firmly convinced of their own amazing sexual desirability. And they don’t stop talking, ever, even when you leave the room.

  Finally, we have the people who have completely lost their minds. Decency is gone, humanity has been sucked out of their pickled soul. In the chemical madness, they will do or say anything. Well, they will try to say it. Sadly, motor skills are weakened and anything coming out of their mouths will contain harsh consonants, too many vowels, and slobber. Likewise, they cannot stand still, swaying to the beat of some imagined conga drum. And they are mean, yelling at people and waving their arms and proving once and for all that man really did evolve from the apes.

  And the mean drunks travel in pairs, often with one of them slightly less smashed than the other, and burdened with the responsibility of screaming “Po-Po is comin’!” at the appropriate moment. The pairs will often turn on one another, their little society falling apart after one of them says something unsatisfactory to the other. Then the rest of the world gets to watch them holler and sway and point and do their slurry best to destroy civilization as we know it. Happily, in Atlantic City, you’re on a Boardwalk, and you can effortlessly shove the mean drunks in the ocean and let them float away. No one will care or dare report you. In fact, the remaining crowd might just build a temple in your honor.

  Then it suddenly hit me. In my current state, I did not qualify for any of the three stages of public drunkenness. I had committed the ultimate vacation sin, allowing myself to become sober while it was still early in the evening. The utter shame.

  I turned to my companions. It’s time for more cocktails, bitches. Move.

Click Here to Read the Next Entry in This Series.

Click Here to read this story from the beginning.

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