You know what’s fun? Acting like a tourist in your hometown.
Now, hear me out.
I know most of you are probably thinking that’s the last thing you want to do; you’re a local and you want everyone to know you’re a local without having to tell them you’re a local. You hate every single person who visits your town that doesn’t live within a 10 mile radius, and you would never want to be mistaken for one of them.
But isn’t that hard work? I mean, locals purposely eschew ‘tourist attractions’ even if they’re super fun. Locals force themselves to be angry when they’re really having a good time. Locals harbor their jealousy until their heads explode, splattering other locals.
It’s a high standard to live up to.
We have to be classy but casual. Know everything but want nothing. (Speaking of which, how do we know everything if we try our damnedest to avoid everything?) Be kind enough to make people want to come back, but mean enough so they know to leave us alone. Look smart enough for people to recognize that we know what we’re doing, but dumb enough to avoid every. single. person. asking us how to get to the beach (or whatever other main attraction that is easily visible from every inch of town).
The off-season isn’t as bad, but the police don’t have to deal with all the drunken crazies or parking tickets so we get more attention from them than we’d like. In vacation towns, knowing every officer on the police force isn’t something to brag about, or be embarrassed of — it’s an annoying, ordinary right of passage.
We go through our day-to-day so focused on our responsibilities and angry at the vacationers who get to forget theirs that we ignore all of our fantastic surroundings.
We never stop to think that many people in the world have never, and will never, see a beach or towering trees, century-old buildings or historic landmarks. There are people who will never experience being surrounded by nature or riding a roller coaster or finding their sea legs.
We overlook seriously wonderful things that are accessible to us every day.
When I woke up yesterday my dad pretty much threw me out of the house. He told me it was a beautiful day and my kid deserved to go out, then demanded I spend the grocery money on something fun.
So Jack and I decided to take Holden to the boardwalk. He loves it there, we haven’t been yet this summer, and there’s ample opportunity to spend copious amounts of money. When we arrived, Jack asked what I wanted to do.
“Walk, shops, hermit crabs, pizza, fries, arcade, Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, other rides, ice cream.”
“So, we’re going to be Shoobies for the day?”
And that’s exactly what we did.
We went to the arcade first (by the way, our arcade is called Jilly’s and I have never in my life called it an “arcade” until this post), where I spent $5 for Holden to play approximately 8 games, all of which he lost within the first 30 seconds.
Then we stopped by the dollar store and illegally smoked cigarettes in a little, low-traffic, corner area, so we did get some local activities in. (Every local buys their drinks at the dollar store to avoid paying $6 for a flat, super-iced Coke that tastes more like Pepsi, and smoking areas are confined to “green boxes” — 10X4ft areas that have ashtrays and sometimes benches and are marked with a rectangle of green paint on the boards.)
After our short break it was time for rides. We spent $70 or so on tickets and let Holden lead the way for hours. I learned he’s a wild child; fascinated and thrilled by all the dangerous and/or fast and/or high rides, such as roller-coasters and Ferris wheels and pirate ships. He desperately wanted to go on the Double Shot and Bumper Cars but is still too little. Poor boy.
Riding on trains and planes and automobiles (and boats) made Jack become grumpy-famished, so we ventured into the crowd to get some food. On our way we stopped to check out some hermit crabs, which Holden loved and I had every intention of buying until Jack pointed out the price. We said we’d go to a different, cheaper store but never did.
We did, however, get GIANT slices of pizza from 3 Brothers (I couldn’t find an actual website), where their slices are bigger than my head. I’m pretty sure they were the first “big slice” pizzeria to come to my town, but if they weren’t they’re still my favorite. None of us were able to finish our food. The remainder of my slice and some of Holden’s fries were quite tasty a few minutes ago, though.
Once we ate we realized just how exhausted we were and how cranky Holden was. He started running off in the wrong direction, we halfheartedly tried to stop him; he wandered into stores, we browsed the merchandise once we caught up; he ran into people, we walked on the wrong side of the boardwalk (stay to the right!).
I got excited about everything I saw, Holden was so overwhelmed he was kind of having an overload meltdown, and Jack was tired and trudging along. We looked like a real, live, Shoobie family. We should have worn socks and sandals.
Somehow we were able to get Holden to go the right way and focus my thoughts on only one thing — Dippin’ Dots. Holden got mint chocolate, I got cotton candy, Jack ate most of both.
We walked back to my mom’s, where we had parked. I couldn’t hold Holden because he was in noodle-mode — when a toddler just hangs off your body instead of trying to support themselves even a little — so we pretended to race the entire way back. Two younger men commented on how adorable he was, about which I still can’t stop smiling (take note ladies and old people).
I plopped down in the grass on the side of Ma’s house, resisted the urge to take a nap, had a drink, made small talk, and then we ventured home. Holden fell asleep on the car ride at 6pm and didn’t wake until morning.
Tell me again why allowing yourself to be touristy now and then is a bad thing.
(Quick completely off-topic note: the proofreader tells me “ladies” is offensive language. Is this so?!)