I have some pretty irrational fears—dying in a fiery plane crash, having both legs severed in a car accident, being shoved off of the subway platform by an escaped mental patient—among others. It never occurred to me though that one could be seriously hurt on an escalator. I’ve been living my whole life just riding up and down those things without a care in the world! In fact, I actually like the way they do all the work for you when you need to get up or down, because I’m generally a pretty lazy person. I love the giant ones in the DC subway. After this past weekend though, I have a whole new respect for those death traps!
Saul and I were embarking on the second half of our journey to Atlantic City Saturday morning as we stepped off the train into 30th Street Station in Philly from NYC. Somehow we were situated apart from one another on the escalator—I was on the right side and Saul was two steps down from me on the left. Next to me, and in front of Saul, was a man of about 60 years, 5’ 10” and 200 lbs or so. He was wearing flip-flops and had his green polo shirt tucked into his pants. I’m not sure why I noticed these details but they stood out to me as I glanced over my shoulder to smile at Saul. Suddenly, the man began wobbling and his luggage toppled over onto my foot. I realized quickly that he was going to fall back, and my first instinct was to panic for Saul’s safety.
It all happened so fast: fearing for Saul’s safety, freaking out over this man possibly having a heart attack or who knows what, and keeping an eye on the top of the escalator so that I didn’t fall when we reached it. Somehow, Saul managed to stay upright as he caught the man, but it was obvious that he was struggling fiercely to hold him so the man wouldn’t fall backwards onto his head.
A young woman in her mid-twenties and covered in a niqab rushed from the bottom of the escalator, crying out to her husband. She and Saul both pushed with all of their might to make the man stand upright. I could see his eyes were half closed and his lids were fluttering. I thought he must be having a heart attack. Saul said later that he kept repeating, “Try to stand up!” but the man was entirely out of it.
Security guards noticed the commotion in time to stop the escalator, and finally came down to help pull him off of Saul and the woman. My entire body was shaking. I carried their luggage up the stairs along with mine, and I felt as though I just ran a marathon. Every fiber of my being was on fire. It was so crazy!
The woman thanked Saul before we walked off, but the man was too shaken to even know what had happened. Security surmised that his flip-flops got caught in the escalator stairs. It’s a likely cause.
Afterward, we sat and took deep breaths, not even sure what the heck just happened. I asked aloud, what if there had been a small child behind that man? Or, what if no one were there? Someone could have been horribly hurt. If I had been behind him, I know I couldn’t have held him. He would have taken us both down.
What a crazy way to start our mini vacation! Thankfully, the next half of our trip was uneventful, and we had no escalator trauma for the rest of the weekend. There are a zillion of them in Atlantic City though boy! We laughed every time we got on one. I also kept making Saul stand directly in front of me on them.
The good news is that this totally bizarre happenstance was not a precursor of things to come. We had a fabulous weekend. It started with the Tropicana upgrading our room to a suite with an ocean view!
Oddly, I didn’t take pictures of the room like I normally do. Oh, except for this one.
That’s the price of the room written in the dust on our dresser. The amount of dust on it and on the nightstand was just absurd. Although we noted it, we mostly laughed about it. We were having too much fun to care. Still, you’d think for several hundred bucks per night, you’d have a spotless room.
As soon as we unpacked we left for PF Chang’s to meet Christine and Rick. Unfortunately for them, they were stuck in horrendous traffic and ended up about an hour and 45 minutes later than planned—which was 15 minutes before our scheduled spa date. That didn’t stop Christine from downing a Mai Tai and some quick chicken lettuce roll ups though. I was glad that she didn’t have to go into an hour massage on an empty stomach.
What can I say about my 50 minute “Modern Back Facial” at Blue Mercury spa? Can you imagine that it was bad? I guess there are some people in the world that wouldn’t like it, but I’m definitely not one of them. I was happy to find that my back skin is in good shape, although she did see one suspicious mole that I need to have checked out. I usually go at least annually to have my entire body checked since I have so many of them, but I’m overdue.
Christine loved her “Foot focus” massage as well. It was a perfect way to start the night with a dear friend that I haven’t seen in way too long.
After the spa, she and I had a few Proseccos at the Palm. I was in desperate need of catching up on her life because I’m the absolute worst when it comes to phone calls or even substantive emails. Eventually, we thought it would be a good idea to find our husbands and get ready for dinner, but we could have sat there talking all night. She said to me, “I’m trashed already! Why does that always happen when I’m around you?” I guess the bevvies go down even easier when they’re shared with great friends.
Poor Saul was in the throes of a pretty nasty cold that night. He hardly had a voice at all, and felt achy and hot. It figures, the only little trip we take all summer and it had to time out this way! He’s a good sport though, and as we watched the sunset through the window in our room while we dressed for dinner, we talked about how lucky we are, and how good we have it.
We made reservations at Red Square originally, and Saul and I arrived a little earlier than Christine and Rick. Saul and I were seated in the center of the room, and even if he had a voice to speak with, we couldn’t have heard each other over the roar of the noise in there. Terrible acoustics. As if that weren’t enough, we took a look at the menu and almost died! Somehow, we had forgotten how much we paid for dinner there in 2010—but we weren’t prepared to pay it again that night! Entrees were about $40 each. If we’re going to pay that much, it isn’t going to be in a franchise in Atlantic City.
We ended up at Ri Ra—another franchise—but far more reasonably priced. The food was actually really good. Just as we noted in 2010, we thought all of the food we ate was very good in Atlantic City. I don’t know why that’s so surprising to me, but it is.
I’m not going to go into details about the fight that Saul and I had in front of our friends after dinner. Mostly because I hated it and don’t want rehash it. Let’s just say that a perfect storm of triggers went off to push both of our buttons at just the right moment. That combined with my general anxiety over having forgotten our tickets to the comedy show back in the hotel room turned me into a total jerk. Unfortunately Christine and Rick, Christine especially, were caught in the crossfire (sorry again!) but they were absolutely gracious and forgiving, and it was forgotten soon enough. Saul and I rarely ever fight—truly fight—rather than just little meaningless bickering. It was unfortunate that it had to happen in front of others, but it was actually a good thing in the end. Afterward, we discussed the reasons each of us were angry, and talked about how we can avoid it happening in the future. We both recognize that not fighting at all isn’t healthy, and it was bound to happen sooner or later. Enough on that.
The comedy show was good. It wasn’t the best we’ve seen, but comedy shows are pretty much all fun once the momentum of laughing gets started. One thing you can always count on too is that Saul will be picked on by the comedians. This time he was told that he looks like an artist…that he should be “flinging paint at a wall in some basement in NYC or something…” by one guy, and by another: “You remind me of my father. Not because you look old, but because you’re drunk and judging me.” Too funny.
That second guy, Jay Black, we had actually seen before, and a lot of his material was the same. He’s still hilarious. He mentioned that he used to teach high school English, and threw an almost undetectable joke about Of Mice and Men in at the end. Saul mentioned to him afterwards that he also teaches English, and he seemed like a really cool guy.
We gambled a bit that night and I made $86, while go-go girls danced in the background. I think we fell asleep around 2:30 a.m., the likes of which I have not seen since ‘Nam. I mean I am usually asleep by 10:30 these days! Somehow it wasn’t difficult though, and I could have stayed up later I think.
Sunday, my plan was to throw on workout clothes without showering, walk the Boardwalk for exercise and then come back to shower for the day. What a terrible, terrible plan that was! By 1:30 I was buzzed at Sammy Hagar’s Beach Bar behind Bally’s and ready for the sights. There comes a point after just enough booze that you don’t care what you look like (until the pictures are posted on Facebook of course!). Anyway, it was a blast. It was a gorgeous day and Christine and Rick were able to join us again for a few hours before their drive back to Maryland.
We had lunch at House of Blues, rode the Ferris Wheel and Tilt-O-Whirl on Steel Pier, and visited the New Jersey Korean War memorial. We gambled a little more in Showboat, and walked through Taj Majal to satisfy my nostalgia for the ‘90s.
That night, Saul and I had dinner at Carmine’s. Yet another franchise-yet again, delicious. Our server was fabulous too, something we’re not so used to lately in NYC. We tried to find live music afterwards, but it was Sunday night so things were pretty quiet.
There is something about Atlantic City that makes you feel like you’ve traveled into the past. In spite of the renovation that’s been done since our last trip there in 2010, it just has an old-school vibe that I love. There are still vintage looking carnival-type stands, an old Arcade, and loads of plaques commemorating days gone by.
Everything around you in AC is like the two sides of a coin (pun intended). On one side it’s all glorious gaudiness: the sounds, bright colors, mirrors and lights…
On the other side, it’s vulgar desolation…
You don’t want to wander too far from the Boardwalk, especially at night. One minute you’re looking at a brown, boarded up shack and the next it’s a gilded escalator taking you into a fantasy world where you can imagine—if just for a brief moment—striking it rich. It’s all distracting enough that you might even forget that you aren’t rich for that moment.
I wonder if the success of Boardwalk Empire helped to boost the tourism there, leading to the improvement in the landscape and building facades. It was definitely far more desolate during our last visit, but still, we loved it even then.
One throwback to the old days that I can definitely do without is the smell of smoke in my hair and clothes at the end of the night. It’s really shocking to live in a City where smoking in public is banned, and then visit a town where it’s still acceptable. I can’t imagine how we lived through it back then! It’s such a nauseating smell and forget about what it does to my eyes now that I’ve had Lasik surgery. Smoking “sections” really just don’t work. That garbage permeates the entire building and you really can’t shake it.
I don’t think we’ll wait another two years to go back. It’s too close and reasonably priced to stay away that long. If you haven’t been there, I highly recommend it. It’s charmingly cheesy and full of excitement. If you do visit, be sure to tell me what you think. If you’re interested in seeing our 2010 photos, click here.
Click here for the full album from this past weekend.