I struggled with coming up with a part 3 for this series challenge. Was this assignment supposed to be public psychotherapy session, venting, tragedy, comedy, or something else? At any rate, I decided to rewrite this post completely.
I was in Atlantic City with my family. It wasn’t exactly a good time for a young kid. I mean, you’re not allowed in the casinos. We found that out in a hurry. The rent-a-cop woman came charging at me, the power of her frightful lungs in full display for everyone within a 10 mile radius, “YOU CAN’T COME IN HERE!!”
I guess in Atlantic City, kids are just supposed to pee their pants or something. Mom found a public restroom while I stood on one leg and tried hard not to piss myself. It would have been a long ride back to Philly in the car in wet pants.
Anyway, I’d call the men’s room a sty but that would be far too charitable. More like an open cesspool of filth, a place of concentrated misery. I held my breath and touched nothing. Well, I had to touch the floor, but I would’ve floated if I knew how.
We stood in line to get into an overpriced buffet for something to eat. My brother and I were bored out of our minds and started wrestling. I don’t remember who started it. Soon we were under some folding tables, grappling with one another. Dad yanked us both out from under the table by the backs of our shirts. People were staring at us. Like we were aliens with three eyes and green antennae.
Did I mention Atlantic City isn’t exactly fun for a kid? Boredom. Hunger. Two boys and waiting in a long hallway for what felt like years. Yippee ki yay.
Dad had Dean stand in front of him. I was to stand behind my mother and my sister between them. A reasonable solution to keep us from touching each other. I tried spinning in place to see if I could make myself dizzy.
A man in a blue windbreaker pulled into the queue behind me. I stopped spinning and smiled at him. He was sort of bald and his hair was sort of sticking out crazy. That Bozo the Clown sort of look to it. He glanced at me and frowned. Did I mention people don’t seem to like kids in Atlantic City?
I decided to keep this character under surveillance. Nervousness radiated out of him. Maybe the cops were after him. Or the FBI.
Another group of adults entered the line behind Mr. Windbreaker. Apparently, that was his cue to confess all his misdeeds. This was it, I thought. Now, I’d find out why the FBI was after him. Nice.
“I was here last week,” he was saying. “Yeah, I lost it all. I had to go home and pawn” – here I admit I was baffled, what’s chess got to do with this? -“some stuff. Told my wife I was going to win it all back. Every last cent.”
The man in the tan suit and wire glasses looked at him. “Good luck with that.”
“Yeah. Thanks.” Then under his breath, “I’m going to win it all back.”
He caught me looking at him, shaking my head in disbelief. “What are you looking at you little twerp. Atlantic City is no place for kids!”
Losing and what did you learn from it? Well, in this story, we learned that some people can learn absolutely nothing at all.