Copyright TaraKA & the Tara Chronicles, 2016
After that 24-mile ride, we took showers and ventured out again, this time by bus. We resumed our pint glass mission, and ended up stopping at Ocean City Brewery (which we swore we wouldn’t do since there’s one about a half hour from home). There’s a large outdoor deck out front, with – it would seem on this particular evening – no service. We walked inside, and were met immediately with a store full of merchandise, including all sorts of glasses and growlers, etc. We had to walk through to the bar in the back, where there were a handful of people seated on a really long bar.
The inside had a rustic appeal much like every other establishment on the planet currently engaged in the latest “warehouse” décor craze. The place was dead. It took some painful questioning to finally understand that yes, we could buy pint glasses, and no, we had to go back up to the front to pick them out and bring them back to be filled. Once all this was established, and we were safely seated at the bar again, we enjoyed light conversation with the bartender who reminded me so much of my brother I actually asked him where he was from. I also asked him if the season has been “off” this year… seeing as so many places seemed half empty and there were Vacancy signs everywhere (also very unusual for Ocean City, Maryland). He agreed.
We left and wandered up some blocks… or did we take the bus? I can’t remember now. We landed at Dead Freddy’s – that truly lived up to its name – as again, there was literally NO ONE there except a couple of guys in their 50s. Seriously. I was beginning to feel like we were in an episode of the Twilight Zone. We pulled up to the bar inside, and ordered some drinks. The bartender was the nicest one we’d met thus far. About our age, good-natured and welcoming – considering if I were him I’d have been instantly unhappy to see people walking into my bar after 11 on a slow night. Their pint glasses won the award for best quality, hands down. They were heavy like crystal, and etched with the Dead Freddy’s logo.
The alarm went off again at 5:30 a.m. and this time I got up to look outside at the most stunning sky developing over the ocean. We made our way to the beach, where only a handful of people were scattered, and took dozens of photos as the sun peaked from behind clouds just on the horizon, until it finally rose above them and it was like the angels were singing. I stood next to the lifeguard stand and contemplated climbing up, but some lady – who obviously did not know the beach sunrise etiquette – walked over and stood just on the other side, not 3 feet away from me. Annoyed, I walked back toward the water and waited for Todd to finish snapping his own photos.
We went back to bed for a couple of hours – to sleep, you perverts. Didn’t you read yesterday’s Can’t Sit Down post? We chose breakfast at the Dough Roller this time, so we got what we paid for and then some. I love the Dough Roller, both for its breakfast and for its vintage lunch boxes on display around the ceiling. Who remembers the old metal lunch boxes we carried to school? And the smell of the lukewarm chocolate milk in the matching thermos? Funny how sensory memories never fade.
We had spent time on the beach the day before; for a couple of hours I read a book by the ocean and let the waves drown out the crowd. This is a first – in 18 years. It was almost too much for me, and I haven’t read since.
The rest of day 3 was spent riding a steadily more crowded bus down to the inlet where the boardwalk begins, eyeballing people through my sunglasses. The girl with the “Tips are Appreciated” stamped on her right hand, who fell asleep for something like 30 blocks, yet miraculously woke up in time to get off at her stop. The young man with the dirty clothes who smelled like he’d just crawled out of someone’s ass, who sat down right next to Todd. (In retrospect this is enormously funny.) The young woman of color who stole an empty seat at the moment it vacated, right out from under an older gentleman wearing a veterans cap. The woman next to her wearing seriously outdated clothing and nylon pantyhose under her shorts.
We walked the boards, stopping to play the old arcade shoot-out game, and grabbed some Thrashers fries with malt vinegar. We walked to the Brass Balls Saloon, where we scored the last outdoor table and another pint glass, but not the nachos. Not that we didn’t try to score nachos. We did. But the waiter kept bringing them with tomatoes on them, even after my first order clarified that we have a tomato allergy. Someone in the kitchen needs to re-evaluate their life’s purpose.
We finished the night with a mad dash to Mackey’s (there’s that place again) – which is wildly popular for its sunset views over the bay. No seating by the water like last time, so we grabbed a high-top table on the upper deck, ordered some drinks, and watched. The restaurant’s music feed shifted into America the Beautiful with impeccable timing, and ended on “from sea to shining sea” at the EXACT moment the sun slipped below the bay. Some of the customers were singing along. I felt so unmedicatedly overwhelmed by this beautiful moment I welled up dangerously close to overflowing, and simultaneously pissed off that they had to play that damn song instead of just letting the drunks enjoy a sunset in peace.
Copyright TaraKA & the Tara Chronicles, 2016