“The idle hands are the devil’s workshop they say”, and if that’s the case, this coming winter in Ocean City will mean that most of us are going to certainly be up to no good.
Truly, like the great Professor Harold Hill (and by great I mean great only to theatre geeks and Rogers and Hammerstein groupies) once said, “We’ve got trouble my friends, right here in River (Ocean) City.”
Ocean City businesses are shutting up quicker than Democrats who thought they had the answer to stop Dubbya’s war, and people are finding themselves with nothing but time on their hands as their workload goes from heavy to non-existent in the blink of an eye.
Sure, businesses close every winter here, but it appears that some of the big boys are taking some time off when they usually are the only surefire place to get a booze drink and a meal of food in February. The Rusty Rudder is shutting itself down all winter, and word is the 800-pound gorilla of nightlife right here in OC will be soon closing its doors during the week. That could spell trouble with a capital “T” that rhymes with “P” which stands for the poorhouse for many of its employees.
Business owners have long said that they stay open in the winter and take the losses to keep their good employees fed and paid, and their local customers happy. No one will tell you that there isn’t a bit of money to be made a few months during the winter, but I can’t find anyone that would claim to be staying out of the red in December or January.
I guess it’s the nature of this little resort market, despite the smoke that’s been blown up our whazoos for the past few years saying that this was growing to a year-round resort.
So, with all of this time on our hands, what the hell are we to do with ourselves in a town with hundreds of bars on a 10-mile stretch (even though a third might actually be open)?
So, here’s a few things to do in Ocean City when it’s slow:
1. Learn a foreign language: This way, when all the foreign kids come next year, you will be able to understand what they are saying about you in front of your face. Plus, we are the least lingual people on the entire planet. Most of us screw up our own language. Plus, we have to press one for English, and perhaps, just for a sense of living dangerously, we can press 2 every once in a while and see how we fare.
2. Write a letter to your congressman: If you don’t want slots to come to town, then figure out not only whom your congressman is, but direct a well thought out and written demand for action against the bringing of an industry that will bring way more old ladies packing Misty cigarettes and rolls of nickels than it will crack whores and drug dealers. I’m sure not only the editors of your local papers will enjoy the fact that you wrote your congressman a letter on this subject, but I’m sure that it will free up some room on Jim Mathias’s home voice-mail as well.
3. Create something out of nothing: Write a novel or even a short story or perhaps even a pamphlet on how to never get hangovers, but let’s use the brain cells that we have left to create something that wasn’t there before. We all talk a good game about what we’d do to change the town for the better, but what do we actually do? Start a business or at least come up with one. Granted, there may be no one with any money to buy anything, but at least you put your nose to the grindstone and got some egg-shell business cards printed up for when they do. There are enough crab joints and buffets, so if you want to start a business like that, totally disregard this one.
4. Speaking of business cards, throw in the towel, and by towel I mean Realtor cards: For awhile in Ocean City it seemed like one out of every five people that you met were in real estate. This lull or valley that the market has come to is causing either the really good Realtors to be left standing or just the ones that made the most money. I’m not sure how they gauge a really good Realtor, but I’m sure it has something to do with money earned. Just a guess.
5. Get out of the Bubble for a spell: Nothing will help you kick your fantasy football addiction and your growing portfolio of shirts that are stained with sauce from local wing-nights than getting the hell out of dodge for a bit. Go make someone else wait on you find the irony in having to leave the beach and driving to a city when you need to breathe.
6. Buy an El Camino and drive the strip: Nothing will make you feel like you are in a ghost town more than getting in an old beater of a car, getting a 12-pack of Schlitz in the trunk and driving up and down Coastal Highway cruising for 4-H babes. Like a good ol’ boy Midwesterner once told me, “it’s the only thing to do, so that’s what we do.”
It might be the black hole for local business this winter, but with a little imagination we could keep ourselves occupied so our idle hands don’t become the devil’s playground. (Which ironically enough, is what people think that slots will bring here … weird.)
If all else fails, we could heed the advice of Professor Harold Hill and start a band … a boy’s band.
Right here in Ocean City.
Then, I fear, we would be in trouble and it most certainly would be spelled with a capital “T.”
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