I’ve lived in New Jersey for more than nine years now, and you’d think I’d have gone to Atlantic City before today. But thanks to the World Championship of Sand Sculpting, that omission has been rectified.
Why yes, there IS a World Championship of Sand Sculpting. And to be completely fair, there was some impressive work on display. It made the sand castle Anna and I made on the beach later seem rather…lacking…by comparison, even though we had a moat, dammit. A moat!
Atlantic City fascinated my writer-mind, much as our visit to Japan did a few months back. (For another perspective on that trip, check out my wife’s Lonely Planet piece on animal cafes! Being married to a travel writer has its privileges.) Anyway, it wasn’t that Atlantic City was all that alien — though it did have its moments. Rather, it was chock full of those little details that I know I’m going to end up using, in spirit if not in literal fact, in my fiction.
We parked at Caesar’s, as one does, and we cut through the casino as we made our way to and from the boardwalk. On the way back, we decided to use the elevator to get up to the second floor, as it was right near us. It was large and round, wood-paneled and glass, looking quite ornate if slightly dated. But as we got in, the door swooped closed and crashed into my arm, at which point it retreated slowly back. (It didn’t hurt, because the doors felt they were made of aluminum foil.) Then the elevator winch started…whirring. Loudly. At this point, I noticed the taped-up broken glass on one of the panels by the door. Someone lost a lot that night. And then the elevator released us, and we continued walking through the ornate, buzzing resort. But how much of that was creaking just below the surface?
The famed Atlantic City boardwalk was actually pretty nice. I expected a bit more…I don’t know…Jersey Shore, perhaps? But it was generally pleasant for the small portion we strolled. What struck me there were the cabs, for want of a better word. Obviously, they weren’t motorized, and at first glance, I thought they were bike-cabs. But no…they were, in essence, rolling benches with roofs. The passengers got in, and the driver…pushed. They were glorified baby strollers for adults. (I wish I had taken pictures.) And while those sitting got off their feet and out of the sun were pushed to their destination, the strollers were constructed in such a way to make interaction with the guy pushing almost impossible. So the passengers drifted across the boardwalk without acknowledgement of their pusher, and those pushing ignored the (generally old and/or larger) passengers in favor of smiling and shouting at each other as they passed.
Finally, there’s this shoe, half-buried in the wet sand. As I tweeted when I found it in the middle of the beach…there is most definitely a story here. I mean, yeah, there’s the obvious party-girl-loses-her-shoe-at-midnight thing, which is rather like Cinderella, now that I think about it, but since this is Atlantic City, there were probably a lot more cocktails involved. But if you go beyond that, it could be anything. Washed up on shore after crossing the ocean from a yacht party in the Azores? Used as an impromptu weapon fighting off night-time beach ninjas in their sand-colored jammies?
Tell you what…if this picture inspires you, use it as a writing prompt and throw your story idea in the comments section. Give your writer-mind a workout!