“Has Been’s” vs. “Show Me’s”

You can’t help but notice that things are generally costing more these days.

If you can’t notice that things are more expensive than ever, then you aren’t paying attention, and therefore, I must deduce that you are either too rich to care, or are using someone else’s credit card.

Everything has become itemized, upgraded, and marketed for one single daily task, rather than having one standard household item to multitask with. Example: I have those Clorox wipes, of which I am a big fan. For the one that cleans the house the majority of the time, but also being a man who used to live in bachelor-like squalor, I must say that that using the Clorox wipes, after the Swifter jet is quite easy.

I have three types of those damn wipes: The green box for the bathrooms, the orange for the furniture and living areas, and the yellow ones for the kitchen. They are $6 a canister, but instead of getting a big bottle of bleach and some lemon pledge, I buy those things up like I’ve got stock invested in them.

I would be ashamed of myself if I had the time to do it.

The “machine” of this society has gotten to the point where the best deal or being efficient is an afterthought. Now, the mantra is kind of a subconscious, “just get it done and keep going” kind of thing that has slowly leaked into our daily lives like a numbing morphine drip.

Is there any other reason why people will pay $6 for Starbucks? We have stuff to do, and there are no afternoon naps in American lifestyle. We are all just tweaking out on caffeine and waiting for our weekend siesta.

There is a channel for every thing you can think of. History buffs, Republicans, interior decorators, housewives, sports nerds, regular nerds, and fans of British sitcoms all have their own channel destination on the “idiot tube.”

Only in America right.

Restaurants have become segregated into ethnic rest stops except for the growing trend that try to jam together six different cooking styles into one type of cutting edge (hybrid) cuisine. In the industry, they call this “fusion” cuisine. Ninety percent of the time, however, it ends up being “CON-fusion” cuisine.

Honestly, do you recall ever dining at an American Contemporary Bistro before 2002?

I doubt it, but I’m sure you had been to a bunch of killer burger joints.

I recall reviewing a restaurant a few years ago in Philadelphia that was targeting the nostalgia-crazed consumer that pretty much believed that things were hip if they old, and they were cool if they were understated. These are the people that pay a whole ton of money to look like they just rolled out of bed in the morning. (For example, see Ryan Adams, or any member of the Strokes.) The management spent a ton of money to make the place look like somebody’s personal smoke pad, equipped with Lava Lamps, bad shag carpeting, wood paneling (albeit very classy wood paneling), and the newest trend in cuisine: Comfort Food.

Comfort food is taking dishes you can make yourself, like macaroni and cheese, putting a slight twist on it, and selling it to you at entrée prices. Down here, lobster mac and cheese has become quite popular, but I support its growing popularity because A. it’s delicious, and B. lobster is not cheap, so people realize the dish isn’t going to be the price of an order of potato skins.

This restaurant’s success, however, never made sense to me. People would go and have things like meatloaf, grilled cheese, and Genny Lite and be totally fine with paying three times more than if they had just made it at home or went to have dinner with their parents.

When I look around in Ocean City this time of year, whether it’s at list of eateries on the dining guides or at the faces that I’m stuck in traffic next to, I have come to the conclusion that there are two types of tourists that visit here.

The “Has Been’s” and the “Show Me’s.”

The Has Been’s want things exactly as they remember them, and the Show Me’s want to be entertained with something that they haven’t seen or done before.

The Has Been’s are routine oriented, and they want their Ocean City experience to be the same from generation to generation. There is something to be said for a father that wants to take his child on the same rides at Trimper’s as he did when he was a kid, or feed the obese Seagulls on the Boardwalk with their excess Thrasher’s fries, after playing 36 holes at Old Pro Golf.

Generally, they want to eat at the same restaurants, in the same booth, and have that menu item that they had the year before. Some of these folks are lifetime vacationers, and many of which like to tell you stories about the “good old days of Ocean City” and most always complain about traffic. As much as I like their style, and totally understand why that notion of consistency for family fun being what helped carry Ocean City for a long time, I think Ocean City is becoming or trying very hard to become a “Show Me” town.

“The Show Me’s” want to be entertained, and they want it to be new. They don’t mind spending more for it, but they want to be wowed. They don’t mind spending $40 on a steak if it’s spectacular and afterwards, they will drink a $14 martini, smoke $6 a pack cigarettes, and chew gum that cost $1.35. (Seriously, who prices gum, what happened to the five-pack for a quarter?)

I think this town started growing so fast that people didn’t know exactly what to do with it other than hold on and cash in. The tourism department is asking for more ad money to draw new visitors to the area. The $1.7 million is pennies compared to the $5 mill that the North Carolina and Virginia beaches are getting. The question is whether they will target more families with smaller budgets or more hip young professionals with fatter wallets (kids optional)?

Can it be a town that is intriguing to both the folks that love Ocean City for what it was and for those that want Ocean City to be an East Coast (model size) version of Vegas?

Maybe that’s why “More Fun Here” is so freaking vague, because we aren’t sure whom we are really inviting anymore.

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