My son, Logan, turns 4 years old next week. Obviously,
having a child teaches you a lot about yourself, but it also unlocked a
heretofore unseen side of my wife, whom I had been with for nearly nine years
before Logan came along:
City, Wildwood or Seaside Heights. That first summer with Logan, though, it’s
not like we could take our infant on the Tilt-A-Whirl (Hillary’s favorite ride,
FYI). But we’re also not very good at just puttering around the house,
especially on nice days. So we spent more time strolling the boardwalks and
getting to know the shore’s many arcades.
plush Angry Birds beanies out of the same machine at Mariner’s Arcade, one of
the red birds and one of the green pigs. Wildwood would continue to be the
shore town where Hillary would have her best luck.
traditional, “Let’s go to Atlantic City with $100 and a dream” sense. But we’ve
definitely spent up to $20 on the chance a rigged machine might cough up a toy.
And Hillary’s win record blows mine out of the water.
This is as near a complete list as memory and photos will allow:
- A plush Pac-Man, Seaside Heights
- A plush Angry Birds Star Wars Chewbacca beanie,
- A rainbow sock-monkey Beanie Ball, Wildwood
- A black mini basketball with a generic pirate
- Two pairs of sunglasses, won on the same try,
from a 25-cent machine in Seaside Heights – one for me and one for Hillary. I
still have my pair, which has lasted me far longer than the previous three
pairs, all of which broke.
- A giant blue rubber ball, stamped with the
Hershey Park logo, from a $5 machine in Pennsylvania. Said ball greets me
whenever I open the gate to our backyard.
- Four Marvel Super Hero Squad dolls: Captain
America, Magneto, Hawkeye and Spider-Man. The first three were all won during
the same stretch of play from the same arcade in Wildwood.
- Two plush alien mascots from the game Cut the
Rope, from the same machine on Central Pier in Atlantic City. We gave one away.
one time I watched Hillary go full Ahab. It was a skinny, plush elephant in a
machine in Seaside Heights, designed to look like it was made of rubber bands.
Hillary must have put in at least $15 trying to snag it, and didn’t win until
her last dollar. After the fifth dollar, it stopped being about the elephant
itself and more about the frustration of not getting it. That frustration would
intensify whenever somebody at a neighboring machine got lucky. There was much
wailing and gnashing of teeth, but finally, there was an elephant, and possibly
later ice cream.
deep in the recesses of Logan’s closet.
Pier, the main character, Drake, has the same uncanny ability to make claw
machines spill their prizes. This is a direct result of watching Hillary go for
glory, a fire in her eyes and a stroller at her side, determined to take summer
for all its worth.
Hillary, son Logan and dog Chewie. He is an editor for The Press of Atlantic
City and a contributor to the Matt
Signal comics blog. He is also the author of three novels – Of Robots, God and Government, My Evil Twin and I, and his latest, Magic Pier, all of which are
available however you get your books online. Look for him selling copies of Magic Pier on Saturday, May 2, as part
of Level Up Entertainment’s Free Comic Book Day event at the Hamilton Mall in
Mays Landing. Follow @danielpgrote on Twitter.