Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ocean City Day 2: Candy, Crabs, and Body Piercing, But Not in That Order

 "Well, there goes every damn thing I was going to say today," I told Kerri as we read the sign posted on the boardwalk.

It was Day 2 of our trip to Ocean City.

We were planning on spending today strolling up and down the boardwalk that runs up and down the beach. It was a lovely day and at 10 am, the boardwalk was already teeming with people wandering aimlessly back and forth, looking at the hundreds of stores which all sell exactly the same 14 t-shirts.

Well, not all of the stores. There was one t-shirt store that stood out a bit to me. An establishment that seemed to bespeak good taste and refinement. A place for the discriminating shopper. Their window display of baby onesies enthralled me.

 Kerri managed to pull me away from the tantalizing window display and we began our leisurely stroll.

"Maybe we can look for a place to get dinner tonight," Kerri suggested.

Not here. The ill-advised quotation marks worried me.

I do have my own personal dining standards. For example - if you cannot spell "dinner" you will not get my business.

We walked a mile and a quarter south along the boardwalk. The sun was warm and the ocean breeze was cool. As we walked, I noticed something odd. See if you can spot the pattern.

 That's 5 Candy Kitchen stores in a mile and a quarter. One every 1,320 feet, on average. It was good to know that if I wasn't going to eat "dinnr" or "Famous Fried" chicken, I wouldn't starve to death because I could have fudge for dinner.

Or taffy.

When we were discussing possible vacation spots, Tori said specifically that she did not want to spend her entire vacation wandering around museums. Even Tori was unable to resist the allure of this amazing art gallery, however.

The "World Famous Ocean Gallery" drew us, inexorably, into its labyrinthine depths. 

If you can resist a place like this, you are a stronger, smarter person than I am.

We spent a lot of time examining the brilliant neo-classical exterior of the building.

It's the Home & Condo Decorating Center. I suggested to Kerri that we could redecorate our home just like this. She disagreed.
"But," I argued, "Look! It's been voted #1 Best in USA! And it's been featured in TWO Major Motion Pictures!"

Once we were done marveling at the glory of its exterior, we ventured into The Ocean Gallery's vast interior. Once our eyes adjusted to the clutter, we were overcome with the scope of its awesomeness. The place went on and on and on and on. It seemed to defy all the known laws of space, physics, and good taste.

I loved it.

There were at least 25 paintings per square foot.


Along every twisting, winding path.

The owner drew you farther and farther along the corridors with dozens of fascinating signs, taped up with yellowed, crinkled wads of old packing tape.

I don't even know what this means, but it brings me such joy.

The Ocean Gallery was also eager to share the fact that many major celebrities have been there.

Like TV Supermodel Beth Webster! I have never heard of her and neither has Google, but still, SHE WAS THERE!

And noted author ALLISON BLAKE! I tried to explain to the owner that I was a noted author, but he was surprisingly uninterested in featuring me in any of his signage.

After several decades of wandering through the towering piles of art, we staggered back out into the sunlight and adjusted to the boring reality of Everything That isn't The Ocean Gallery.

 There were a few other highlights, though even they seemed dull and gray in the shadow of The Ocean Gallery.

An arcade offering Adult Rides. Kerri refused to let me explore.

Random tip cans in the unattended public bathrooms.

Name on Rice is not a Chinese fast food joint, it turns out. Too bad. I was hoping for some dinnr. With my name on it.
Another arcade with a Hurricane Simulator. WOW!

I'm sure that these two tiny fans can perfectly capture the terrifying fury of a hurricane. Kerri offered several times to pay for me to try. I'm not sure what that means.

We made it to the end of the boardwalk, stopping briefly for a few zany moments of family fun.

Wish You Were Here.

Wish You Were Here, too!

There was a bit of unpleasantness as Tori grappled with a testy T-Rex. Don't worry, she didn't hurt it too badly.

As the sun began its slow descent, we headed back toward the hotel and began thinking in earnest about getting some dinnr.

It was only then that I noticed another trend in the stores dotting the boardwalk. One that made 5 Candy Kitchens pale and weak in comparison. The boardwalk may be a great place to get candy, but it's a world class leader in places to get holes poked in your body.

19 piercing places in a mile and a quarter! That's got to be some sort of world record. Maybe The Ocean Gallery can get in on the whole piercing thing. "Free Belly Button Piercing With Every Oil Painting of A Crying Clown!"

They'd totally rule the boardwalk. And the universe.

We managed to get back to the hotel without having any extra holes placed in our bodies and we headed out to The Crab Bag for some food.

 Tori, our family vegetarian, was somewhat troubled by the restaurant's name. "It sounds like a disease that pirates get."

It's hard to argue with that, but I wanted a crab cake, darn it.

As we drove the 6 miles to the restaurant, we passed–no, I'm not kidding–at least 8 more Candy Kitchens, so we felt safe in the knowledge that if the restaurant was closed, we still had many dinner options available, even if they were much farther apart than they were along the boardwalk.

We arrived at The Crab Bag and were greeted with a mural that would have been perfectly at home in The Ocean Gallery.

The mural on the side of the building is surreal and somewhat terrifying. Undaunted, we entered.
At The Crab Bag, it turns out that they actually serve - wait for it - crab. In a bag.
If you are so inclined, you can order a bag of crabs. They arrive at your table and are unceremoniously dumped in front of you on the paper-covered tabletop. You are then given a small wooden mallet and are free to express yourself in any way you see fit.

Walking into a large dining room full of people whacking piles of crabs with hammers did not have the effect I thought it might on my vegetarian daughter.

Her eyes lit up and a smile crept across her face. "Wow. Do you think someone would let me bash a crab? That looks like fun."

Kerri and I exchanged a nervous glance and quietly made plans to sleep in shifts tonight.

I did get my crab cake and it was delicious, although a bit pricey.

This is a $20 crab cake with free coleslaw and beans!
The magic of crab bashing eventually subsided in Tori and she ordered a different local specialty, macaroni and cheese. Kerri and I are still sleeping in shifts, however. And that's too bad because I want to be very well rested for tomorrow.

Tomorrow we meet the Wild Beach Ponies of Doom.