This is about the time of year when the clichés start buzzing around town with the intensity of a horny Junebug.
Now that Wayne Newton rocked Sunfest and was placed back into his formaldehyde tank for the long flight back to Vegas, the season in Ocean City starts to get back down to a much more comfortable jog or power walk if you will.
It looks and feels a little awkward at first, just like power walking (which is just ridiculous if you ask me), but after a summer worth of sprinting and “burning our candles at both ends”, clichés like “stop and smell the roses” sound like something worth trying.
As business owners are counting their money “hand over fist” or “wiping their slate clean” in order to do a little “thinking outside the box” for next summer’s business plan, the fall in Ocean City turns out to be the season of reflection, relaxation, and in a sense, an almost euphoric feeling of “winding down.”
People talk a lot about community and some semblance of each community being “one”, but if you look at it, there are many communities that run on their own schedules, with different goals for each person or group within that community. Here, each spring the town “starts firing on all cylinders” to get ready for summer as a collective unit, and then when the tourists start to head back to their domiciles, we collectively “wind down” at the same time. The end of the season is like our Sabbath and we are all devout followers of the church of tourism.
The fall turns our little town from booming metropolis back into what it truly is, a small little town where pretty much everybody knows your name (and inevitably your dirty laundry).
The second season is interesting because you run into people at weird places that in the summer, you would never expect to. You could run into Batman buying groceries, or run into a Paddock bartender wearing a sweatshirt, or see Denise Milko without her “Get Milko” mustache. The possibilities are endless.
Perhaps the second season as we call it is our “ship finally coming in” so we can start doing some of the things that we’ve been working towards and talking about on bar stools for the duration of the summer. I’ve said it many times, that we as workers in a resort town, after serving people all summer on their holidays, are the ones at the end of the summer most in need of a holiday. Now is the time we can kick ourselves off the island and go and be waited on, rather than wait on someone. We can indulge rather than just sneaking a Natural Light in the walk-in cooler, or consuming a WaWa hoagie at heartburn speed in our cars in between meetings. We can go look at extravagant houses rather than sitting in an open house for an entire Saturday. We can go to our kids soccer games and feel like we are not in fact smarter than a fifth grader when they bring home their homework. Again, “the sky is the limit.”
Every local that you talk to, at least the ones I have, seem to love this time of year. I must admit that it is my favorite. It’s the time when you sit back on your porch, open an import beer (“Because life is too short to drink crappy beer”) and “take it all in.”
It is obvious to even the most PR savvy of people that want to tell you that Ocean City is all about the families, that Ocean City in the summer time is all about the money. It’s not “just business” but it is “our business”, and whether you like it or not, so much of what we do on this little stretch of peninsula is about the money. “Show us the money”, “put the money where our mouth is”, “rake it in”, or simply “phone it in.” It is how we feed our families, by simply feeding or housing somebody elses.
Many people in Ocean City get called a lot of things, and some are quite deserved. “Money hungry”, “money grubbing”, “penny pinching”, “filthy rich”, “gold digger”, “blue-blood”, etc. But, at the root of it, I think that everybody is just trying to attain “quality of life.” Some people are just nicer than others. There are jerkoffs in the world so you can actually appreciate good people when you meet them.
Everybody wonders if what they are doing is worth it. If what you are doing matters more than just having some sort of title on a business card, or when you die, your obituary will start out with the phrase, “local business owner.” This is the time of year to really think that out, and evaluate if what you are doing is an “honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.” If every “cause has an effect” than we must look at our town itself once the people have all gone home and we are left with mess to clean up like the street sweeper in Times Square on New Year’s Day.
Ocean City will soon be a ghost town as local businesses will be locking the doors till spring. The prices of Ocean City have made it one big condo, and most of the people live off the island in their own little communities a bit inland. Has Ocean City priced itself out to a point where it will truly close for business once the last tourist leaves?
Perhaps we should think about that during our down time, and see if we as a community can put our heads together and “answer the $64,000 question.”
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