It’s day five and the last day of vacation. And actually, I’m writing this from home because yesterday was our last day. This morning we packed our things, said our goodbyes to the beach, and hit the road for back home. Today would have been a beauty of beach day, too—a stunning blue sky, temps hitting the 90s, the beaming sunlight bouncing off the waves. It always happens that way, it seems, on the last day. On the radio, the Drifters’ Under the Boardwalk played as it had on the way down to the beach, but we didn’t sing along this time. Soon, we were back the world, muddling around the grocery store trying to scrounge up something for dinner. After we pulled into our driveway, we popped the trunk open to carry our bags inside, and got a whiff of suntan lotion and sand that seeped from our stuff. But then we unlocked the front door, stepped in our house, and it felt good to be home.
But hey, it’s Friday, and I’ve got some HOT BEACH THINGS for you. In fact, this is the MEGA SUPER EDITION.
HOT BEACH THING #1: THE ACTUAL BEACH
It took me five days to get to it, but yeah, we love the actual beach, too. I love greasing up in suntan lotion, getting my Vitamin D on, reading magazines, and watching kids ride their boogie boards into the legs of innocent bystanders. I don’t mess around in the water. I never did. There’s enormous blob monsters in the water with flagellating, stinging tentacles. Knowing that, I can’t enjoy myself. I don’t even understand how this doesn’t bother everyone else in the ocean.
HOT BEACH THING #2: FISHER’S POPCORN
Greatest caramel corn on earth. Enough said.
HOT BEACH THING #3: EL TORO
Just a beautiful old arcade novelty. Hope it’s never replaced by something 3D or HD.
HOT BEACH THING #4: THIS SHARK BUSTING OUT OF THE BUILDING
YEAHHHHHHHHH. It’s so bad ass. This is the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, which is worth the price of admission about once every ten years, I figure. But glimpsing that shark? ALWAYS FREE.
HOT BEACH THING #5: THE ARCADES
These three huge arcades are probably my favorite place in the world. There’s also a fourth arcade further down on the boardwalk that’s smaller, and I love that one, too. During our five day stay, we visited each of the arcades multiple times per day, since every time we passed by, I was drawn in with a dollar in my hand trying to win at the claw machines. The girlfriend is a great sport about this, because her idea of vacation is sipping wine and shopping for jewelry, and not pumping dollar bills into a loose claw machine trying to win a plush Angry Bird. But to make it up to her, I will admit this: she kicked my ass at air hockey. It was shameful.
HOT BEACH THING #6: A CUP FULL OF QUARTERS
HOT BEACH THING #7: THE BIG WIN
MORE ARCADE PORN. This was my big win—I scored 200 tickets on a single quarter. Overall, I walked away with 732 tickets, which meant I could get myself a really good prize. No plastic paddle-balls or smiley erasers for me. NOPE, I WAS GOING TO GET SOMETHING BIG WITH THIS MANY TICKETS.
HOT BEACH THING #8: WHAT YOU GET WITH 732 TICKETS
The girlfriend and I made the decision on this jointly. I really wanted this ceramic wine bottle holder that had dice and a jowly bulldog in a suit, but the girlfriend said we couldn’t put that in the kitchen. So then she started talking about the bathroom shadowbox again. You see, our main floor bathroom is the “nice bathroom” with wooden floors, a fancy mirror, and a built-in shadowbox—and ever since we’ve bought the place, she’s been mulling over what to put in the shadowbox. It became her little personal project this entire beach trip, finding little knick-knacks to display in it. And that’s how we ended up with the awesome three ships in a bottle choice for my big prize, which she deemed appropriate for the shadowbox.
Look at this thing. It’s awesome:
The water is so crappy looking! It looks like a blind fourth grader with missing fingers made this! I’M IN LOVE.
HOT BEACH THING #9: ICE CREAM AT 10AM
Every morning, we got our vacation workout in by jogging or biking the boardwalk. Naturally, it makes sense afterwards to replenish yourself, so we got ice cream. As the girlfriend so elegantly put it, “second breakfast is also first dessert.” Right on.
HOT BEACH THING #10: BEACH LUNCH
There’s something so sweet about a cooler full of peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, Twizzlers, and of course, Cool Ranch Doritos, which I deem the official chip of summer.
HOT BEACH THING #11: FREE CANNOLI
I got in on some hot coupon action, and we made the decision to have dinner at Da Vinci’s one night solely based on the free cannoli coupon. And in my mind, I knew the cannoli was going to make my list of hot beach things. Dinner was great. An oceanfront Italian feast—it’s a thing in its own right. But then our cannolis came out. I was supposed to take a picture of it first for the blog, but I didn’t even think about it. I just wolfed that thing down. It was kind of obscene. So here is a picture of the coupon.
HOT BEACH THING #12: CELERY STALKER
Like the Bear in the Tasseled Denim Vest, the Celery Stalker is another thing we have to take a picture of every year. We’re weirdos. I mean, we even named him the Celery Stalker. Get it? Look at this guy! Look at his face! What the hell? He’s located in a super obscure location that I will reveal to you. He’s like a real life “Easter Egg.” He’s at the Paul Revere Smorgasboard Restaurant, but he’s not even visible to the patrons of the restaurant. Instead, you have to take the elevator of the connecting Plim Plaza hotel to the bottom floor where the workers enter, and there you can see into the back of the restaurant, where this oddball celery sits on a ledge.
HOT BEACH THING #13: SURFING PACMAN
HOT BEACH THING #14: THE RIDES IN THE DISTANCE
When I was a kid, I loved sitting on the beach and gazing at the ferris wheel at the end of the boardwalk. It all seemed so far away, all the rides, cotton candy, arcade games, and ice cream. I’d just sit there longing for it, wishing time would go faster, while scooping up fistfuls of sand and dropping it again. I knew we went to rides at night, but I still asked “is it almost time for the rides?” My parents made it very clear that they only endured the noisy, money-sucking pit of hell at the end of the board walk because they loved me. “Nope,” they’d say, or they’d pretend to be asleep in the sun. So I’d just stare down there at that Ferris Wheel. It was the only thing I had. Now as an adult, I still stare down there, even though time moves uncomfortably fast and I wish the days could feel a little longer. It still makes sense to hold onto that Ferris Wheel like it’s the only thing I’ve got.
HOT BEACH THING #15: THE HAUNTED HOUSE
Yep. The Haunted House. I’ve already written at length about my love for this ride here. But I can’t resist a few more pictures and words:
I’ve loved this ride hardcore ever since I was a toddler. I used to ride it with my eyes shut the entire time, so I didn’t even see the damn thing for the first time until I was seven or eight. OR MAYBE FOURTEEN SO WHAT. I think it’s funny that I dug it so much even though I didn’t even see it, but hey I also ate pasta plain without the sauce.
HOT BEACH THING #16: THIS LADY RUNNING THE PIRATES COVE
When you’re having a shitty day at work next week, come back to The Surfing Pizza and check this picture out again.
HOT BEACH THING #17: INSIDE THE PIRATES COVE
I included the outside of the Pirates Cove in my hot list earlier in the week, but now I’ve got the inside.
HOT BEACH THING #18: FROG NIPS XXXTREME CLOSE UP
Yep. After having the froggy funbags on my hot beach list earlier in the week, everyone was clearly excited by amphibious boobs. And frankly, so were we. So we decided to go back and actually check out the bar.
HOT BEACH THING #19: INSIDE THE FROG BAR
Dude! This place was actually pretty sweet. There was great view of the bay, an amazing breeze, and absolutely nobody in the bar, which is just how we like it.
Oh and more frog jugs:
HOT BEACH THING #20: SOUVENIR CITY
Souvenir City is hands-down the most amazing place for beach crap. The most incredible part is that it’s been unchanged for the past 30 years. I mean, literally. The exact same souvenirs have been in there since I was a kid. I can walk past the shelves and pick out the crap I bought for myself when I was ten. How do they do it? Are there infinite boxes of the same crappy merchandise from the 1980s stashed somewhere?
And where else can you find something like this:
HOT BEACH THING #21: FELT DOUBLE DOLPHIN
IS THAT AMAZING OR IS THAT AMAZING? IT’S A DOUBLE DOLPHIN. AND IT’S ONLY $1.49. SERIOUSLY. I figure at this point you are ready to book your vacation to Ocean City, Maryland. Let me know if you need hotel recommendations.
HOT BEACH THING #22: SOUVENIRS
Here’s what I picked out for myself this year from Souvenir City. A grinning puffer fish and a fish comb. Puffer Fish was .99 cents and the fish comb was only .59 cents. Let me know if you also need restaurant recommendations.
HOT BEACH THING #23: BATHROOM SHADOWBOX
Finally, to close out my list, and well, my summer vacation, here’s the girlfriend’s bathroom shadow box. There’s the ships in the bottle, some sea shells, and the birds to represent us. It’s a work in progress still, but bathroom shadow boxes are like art—never fully completed, only abandoned. Or something like that.