50 Days of Summer: I Take My Kid to the Beach Mall


I’m trying to get back into blogging in a big way, so I thought I’d start something called the 50 Days of Summer, where I’ll be posting summer awesomeness, all summer long. I’m promising 50 days, which averages four posts a week. Uhh. Yeah, okay. I can commit. I can do it! Between this and my ongoing Naptime Chronicles, in which I recount the first year of my kid’s life during his naps, this blog is going to be a total party zone.

So a few weeks ago, we went to Ocean City, Maryland for a few days. The wife got a new job where she is mondo important, so she does things like go to conferences at the beach. The kid and I tagged along.

To be sure, this is all a brave new world to me. While the wife was working, me and the kid had all of Ocean City to ourselves. So, uhh, what exactly do you even do with a 10-month-old at the beach, besides let him bang on the hotel sliding glass door like a gorilla, over and over?

The weather was rainy and in the 50s, so I decided it was time to take the kid on one of life’s most important rites-of-passage. We went to the beach mall. The sad, 1980s, dilapidated beach mall. It’s the kind of sadness you absorb like radiation. It’s hard on the eyes but good for the soul.

Too bad it’s under renovations and being cannibalized by a TJ Maxx. The sad beach mall is not for much longer. I knew this was a special moment between me and my son. Or something.


This is basically all that was left of the beach mall. As you can see, the wet floor signs really were the main attraction. I promptly posed my son between them and backed up to take a picture. He became a little alarmed that I might abandon him in this forsaken place.

The smell of the place was port-a-potty and the lingering burning plastic of an old shirt decal press. Aside from the Italian Ice/Calzone place — with chances good being that the place served neither — there was just one other store open, a beach souvenir shop, which was in the process of being packed up for moving. Or fleeing.


Then again, it’s entirely possible the store wasn’t going anywhere and just always looks like this — half packed up and half disheveled. It was silent and isolating as I walked around the store, and I felt like the only human around for miles and miles. Indeed, the shop owner treated me as such, promising to lavish me with “great deals” on whatever I bought. He watched me like a hawk, seemingly zoned in on my eyeballs, quick to shout out the amazing price of whatever my eyes glanced over. The thing is, the prices seemed like the same as they always are, everywhere else, all of the time.

Even though it sounds like I’m describing an awkward, intense, post-apocalyptic scene here, it really is just another day at the 80s beach mall. I was relaxed, enjoying the burnt decal smell, pushing my kid, and enjoying seeking out some hidden treasure in this shop. In fact, I’m pretty sure this is one of my ideas of heaven.

And hidden treasures I did find. Behold:


Had I suddenly time-traveled to 1976? What was this doing here? An old stockroom find? Or perhaps it had been sitting here on this shotglass rack all along, just somehow not gotten purchased or moved once in the last forty years. I think I’d like to believe that one.


The shop dude was shouting five dollars at me, like this was incredible deal on a shot glass, although that’s basically the price of every shot glass in Ocean City. But whatever. It belonged to me now.

Next treasure:



Had I suddenly time-travel to 1994? Man, forget your BPA-free, flip-top, carabiner-toting, canteen-sytle, stainless-steel water bottle. THIS is a water bottle, people.

It’s all about that straw.


This water bottle was pretty scratched up and had a ring of dirt on the bottom. But I didn’t care. I needed this water bottle. This was going to be my official water bottle of summer. This was going to be my official water bottle of life.

TEN DOLLARS, the man shouted at me, but I decided to haggle and got him down to four bucks, which is probably still extreme for a dirty, scuffed water bottle that should be lying fading in the sun on a boat that’s been parked in someone’s backyard for the last twenty years.

Alright, alright. 49 days of summer to goooo….

3 thoughts on “50 Days of Summer: I Take My Kid to the Beach Mall

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