I went to Atlantic City for my best friend Kristen’s 25th birthday this weekend. Atlantic City is a gambling beach town in New Jersey. The boardwalk is lined with hotels that double as casinos.
Kristen and her friends went down Friday night. I drove down from Staten Island Saturday. It is 3 hour trip by car, 3.5 day trip by walk.
I got a slow start leaving my house that morning. I knew I should have been showering and packing, instead I spent the morning photoshopping myself a new Facebook picture.
Here it the photoshopped photo.
This picture is funny because it’s my actual self on the right, with my face on the body of my cousin on the left. So it looks like I’m posing with my own twin. That’s why the picture is funny.
Before leaving New York, I took out cash from the drive-through ATM. I pulled over in the bank parking lot to put the cash into my wallet. A woman in the car behind me started beeping and flailing her arms. I assumed she thought I was Taylor Swift. People have mistaken me for Swift a handful of times.But usually only at Jonas Brother concerts.
“You left your card in the machine,” she yelled to me holding my debit card out the car window. I walked towards her car. She seemed mad at me. “I cancelled the remaining transaction,” she reassured me, annoyed. It was like she was my mother getting mad at me for leaving my debit card in the machine.
“Thanks Mom,” I said to her and walked to my running car.
I hit the open road, with a hammer, driving south on the Garden State Parkway. I like driving on the Garden State Parkway because it is the same route I take to get to my beach house in the summer. Going to my beach house in the summer means no work relaxy-relaxy-time.
It is a nice contrast to drive the route in the winter.
An hour into the trip, traffic slowed to a bumper to bumper standstill.
I felt eyes on the side of my head and glanced to my right. A middle-aged man driving alone in a white SUV was staring at me with a big smile on his face. I did not smile back and looked forward quickly. I got a strange vibe from the guy and was confused by his intentions.
As traffic merged into two lanes, he kept trying to slow his car so he would be right next to mine. I tried hard not to look at him, but I couldn’t help myself. I glanced and he was still smiling.
It’s like when you’re in a meeting and can’t stop looking at the person sitting directly across from you. You keep making eye contact with them. The more you tell yourself, “Don’t look at him/her,” the more you have to look at him/her. Even if it’s just a quick look. You look and they are looking at you, so you make eye contact again. It’s slightly awkward.
I eventually stopped looking at the man because Celine Deon’s “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” came on my ipod shuffle. I love that song. It is so passionate.
I think smiling is great. It is nice to smile at people on the streets, or people at work. A smile can brighten someone’s day and convey happiness. But don’t be smilin’ at me when I’s alone in the car and you’s alone in you’s car and you keep inching your car closer to mine [said in a loud feminine southern accent].
Say I smiled back at the man? Then what? Would we have continued to smile back and forth for 20 minutes until the traffic broke? Would I hold up my phone number to the window for him to have? Would I have rolled down my window and started a conversation about the weather, or the traffic?
“How did you meet your husband?”
“Well I was driving down I-95 when I saw a man in the car next to me smiling. So I rolled down my window and we’s started chatting.” [said in a feminine southern accent]
Around 1:30pm, I arrived in Atlantic City. I saw a virtual projection of George Washington on a video screen. I thought he was a guest performer at one of the hotels. Maybe he’d be doing a seminar on money debt. Maybe he’d be doing standup.
I couldn’t go directly to the hotel because Kristen asked if I would pick up seltzer.
I found a convenience store. There was a muni-meter you had to put money into to park on the street. I knew I would be five minutes at most, but I thought I would put in money anyway because I didn’t want to get a ticket. I got a New York City ticket last month for $115. Which I just remembered I still have to pay.
Working the muni-meter was confusing. It appeared one hour of parking equaled one dollar. I tried to pay with cash, but the machine malfunctioned and wouldn’t suck in the money.
I used my debit card. First I had to enter the parking space number, then inputted the amount of time I would be staying. One thing led to another and I ended up accidentally paying for 9 hours of parking instead of ten minutes. I was losing money already.
I considered parking in the spot for the allotted time just to get my moneys worth. I chose not to do this because I needed the car’s GPS to get to the hotel. Also, I would have had to move the car after 11:00pm.
At 11:00pm, I was hoping to be wearing a silk winner’s sash with a tiara on my head after winning the Ms. BlackJack 2012 tournament. So that wouldn’t have worked.
I arrived to the Taj Mahal Hotel.
I paid ten dollars to park in the hotel’s garage.
I parked in section 3b. I had to take a photo of the spot so I wouldn’t forget where it was parked.
Doing things myself means I have to rely on myself.
I love traveling with my sister is because she is the one who usually pays attention to such details, giving me more time to upload self-portraits to Instagram.
I walked into the casino and down an escalator.
I saw this big-ass chandelier.
My dream in life is to move into a studio apartment and hang a chandelier that big.
I walked around the casino looking for the hotel elevators.
I thought I was in the wrong hotel. I have no confidence in my sense of direction. Not many people do.
I found the hotel room. Kristen’s friends Lindsey and Matt were hanging in the room.
Matt stretched his leg.
Kristen and I gambled.
She was in a trance.
I lost $40 dollars on the penny slots.
It happened quickly.
Kristen taught me how to play three card poker on the tables.
Gambling on the tables is scary because you have to interact with actual people including the dealer and fellow gamblers.
There was two 60 year old men sitting across from us at the poker table. I know they were 60 because they told us.
“You two sisters?” one man asked.
“No,” we said in unison and smiled. We both get very bashful whenever anyone initiates conversation.
“We’re best friends,” Kristen said looking at her poker chips, “for twenty years.”
“We’ve been best friends for 60 years,” the man said to us, pointing to his friend.
We both smiled.
Kristen whispered to me that the man looked much younger than 60. He was in great shape. I thought he was a retired NBA basketball player.
I watched Kristen play a few rounds of 3 card poker. She did well.
I decided to play.
I dropped $80.
“It’s her first time playing,” Kristen told our 60 year old friends.
“You’ll have beginner’s luck,” one of the men replied.
I lost 70 of the $80 dollars. I had beginner’s bad luck.
We went to dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe.
I came back from the bathroom halfway into eating and was told Whitney Houston died.
Everyone took our their smart phones to confirm the news.
It was true.
I woke up today with a leftover ten dollars from my poker game.
I spent the money on the penny slots. “I’ll get all my losings back,” I thought as I put the money into the money sucker.
I lost the ten dollars.
I walked the Atlantic City boardwalk.
It was nice to get fresh air outside the smokey, dimly lit casino.
There were 20 feral cats living under the boardwalk. It intrigued me.
And headed home.
An hour into the trip, traffic slowed to a bumper to bumper standstill. I felt eyes on the side of my head and glanced to my right. A middle-aged feral cat driving alone in a white SUV was string at me with a big, feral cat smile. I got a strange vibe from the cat and was confused by his intention.