family & parenting

MartyDigs: Tasty tidbits of summer

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The summer is almost in full swing – and likewise, my skin looks like a barely cooked roast beef, and my barbecue grill is sweating from all the use I am giving it. After our trip last week to Lancaster, it was great to get back down to the shore and take a deep breath of salt air and a deep sip of a cold beer. This past weekend, Jack and I – as usual, were “party rocking” at many different locations at the Jersey shore. We played in the waves, rode a rollercoaster, and took a walk through a giant elephant.

I took Friday off and headed down the Margate on Thursday night. No sooner did we get to my parent’s place did Jack beg to go to the beach. It was absolutely perfect out, so I obliged and we headed down . The beach was almost deserted, it was 7pm, and other than a few joggers and walkers, we were hanging out totally isolated from the world. Would have been a romantic place for a couple to have a sunset make-out or hand- holding session, but they would have surely been distracted by the sights and sounds of me having Jack jump over waves, Jack’s maniacal laughter, and us shouting what is certain to be the catch phrase of summer 2011 – “everyday I’m shuffling”. Jack was having a ball, and was covered in sand from head to toe, he had a smile pasted onto his face, and kept grabbing my hands so I could fling him over oncoming waves. I took a bunch of pictures of him with my shitty cell phone camera but It was one of the kind of moments where I shut my eyes and thought to myself “don’t ever forget this.” My little boy who three summers ago had to be propped up by a surfboard to sit up for a picture is now sprinting through the surf and rolling in the sand.

That beautiful night didn’t end so good – Jack decided, as he has been doing way too much lately, that he didn’t need to sleep. My mom, God bless her, who is used to a calm and peaceful summer home during the week, was all of a sudden helping me to try to get him to sleep and we were up until midnight. And Jack woke up at 6am the next morning, so I decided to get me and Jack out of Dodge and out of my mom’s hair before we were evicted by my tired momma. We drove to Ocean City, which self-proclaims itself as “America’s Greatest Family Resort”. My family holds issue with this, how great can a place be that doesn’t serve booze? Anyway, we went to a playground, and while Jack played,  I looked on with disgust (but really jealousy) at all the families jumping out of shiny large SUV’s and pushing baby strollers that are worth more than my own car.

We got back to Margate and met my mom on the beach. Jack and I built a castle, he chased down seagulls and the ice cream man, and I got five minutes of peace while he ate the Spongebob pop that costs $3.50. My dad (who is four days away from retirement) got down Friday evening, so I took Jack to the boardwalk in Ocean City to let me parents get some peace and quiet (aka finish a few bottles of wine). I came home from the Boardwalk that night very proud. Proud for a few reasons – first, I successfully had Jack asleep before I got back to the house, second – Jack did a bunch of rides without me, deeming him a “big boy”. And finally, Jack and I got a ton of mentions of how cute and adorable he was the entire night. My already large Irish noggin was swelling from all the compliments, a shopkeeper assured me as Jack was running rampant through her store “don’t worry, with his eyes, he can do whatever he wants”. And I heard a teenage girl whisper to her friend, “that little kid is like, really cute”.  By the time we left, I was bursting with pride, caramel popcorn, and soft serve ice cream.    

The next morning, we made a road trip from the Jersey shore to the beautiful campus of Swarthmore College. My cousin is a professor there and he and his wife have three adorable little kids. We were there to celebrate Peter and Lucy’s birthday. They live right on campus – I was knocked out by how nice the campus is, and how neat the little nook of campus they live on is. Jack found Peter’s train table – so instantly Jack turned into Mr. Anti-Social and fiddled with the trains while the rest of the kids played all sorts of games. My cousin’s wife Amy wrote a list of things they all want to do and accomplish this summer.  Simple things like catching fireflies, to making a new friend, and visiting a local amusement park. I was totally inspired reading it, and am getting to work on a list for Jack. Because going to the local playground or whatever carnival is in town is kind of getting old.

On the trip back, Jack slept and I foolishly forgot to remind myself not to take the Expressway into Atlantic City. The Dave Matthews Caravan was in town – a three day festival that basically shut down a small portion of Atlantic City. (But not the portion with the hookers, cash for gold stores, and seedy strip joints) I got caught up in a sea of concertgoers in Volkswagen Jettas and Prius’ and cursed my stupidity for not remembering to get off a different exit. But I have to admit, it was pretty cool seeing all the people flocking to the show. I got a huge tinge of jealousy, there is nothing like an all day concert with a ton of different bands to see. What surprised me most was when I drove past the legendary and very stuffy Knife and Fork Inn – they had a beer garden outside! This is a place that requires a sport coat, does not allow shorts inside, and costs an arm and a leg to eat at. And now, the front of the landmark restaurant had denizens of dudes in cargo shorts, flip flops, and fake Ray Bans sipping cold beers. The old long time owner, the irascible and notoriously cranky Mack Latz, actually lives on our street in Margate. I imagine he would probably be spinning in his chaise lounge if he saw this scene going down!     

We arrived safely back in Margate, made a quick wardrobe change, and headed to my cousin Joey’s in Brigantine. His son Reef and Jack are only a few months apart in age, and Jack is normally an angel whenever we hang out with them. We had a nice time at Joey and his wife Britney’s place. The kids played and had fun, and we sat back laughing and drinking cans of Tecate. I didn’t want to leave, neither did Jack, but my mom was making some beautiful New York strip steaks on the grill and I swear I could smell it wafting from Margate to Brigantine. So again, we packed up shop and moved the Jack and Marty Party back to Margate. Ate a nice dinner, then my parents were kind enough to let me meet a friend at my favorite Margate watering hole- Maynard’s Café. It was a fun, but albeit rare night on the town for me. My night was ruined when a girl “guessed” that I was 36. I am 35, but I guess my mini partner in crime has aged me considerably in his three years of life.   

 Sunday morning, we took Jack to a destination he has been begging to go to. Lucy the Elephant – the bizarre, historic, six story wooden elephant that is Margate’s landmark and claim to fame. He was all smiles, and was more focused and attentive during the nine minute video they show than me and my mom were! I am seeing so much of myself in Jack when he starts to like something – because just like me, he throws his heart and soul into it, fully immerses himself, and goes completely overboard. He has not stopped talking about Lucy since we left.

On the sad car ride home, dreading the unsalty – extra smoggy air of my hometown, I realized that I need to make a confession. For some reason, in the summer, I become a fan of pop music from the radio. Maybe it’s the lack of sleep, but most likely it’s the fact that I hear this stuff on the Boardwalk and all the carnivals I go to, and also my slow slide into domestication. Or maybe I can just chalk it up to summer making us do weird things – after all, I have no problem coughing up almost 4 bucks for a scalding hot slice of pizza at Mack and Manco’s. But I am obsessed with that “Party Rock” song by the band (and I feel very sheepish for even referring to them as a band) LMFAO. The part where they say “Everyday I’m Shufflin” is becoming part of me and Jack’s vocabulary. Yes, parenthood does strange things to people. But I look forward to many more excellent adventures with Jack this summer and for all the summers to come!   

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One Response to “MartyDigs: Tasty tidbits of summer”

  1. Marty,

    Bobby & Susie at The Ott House gave me your blog and suggested we swap stories. Check out and then search the blog for “What I did on my day off”

    Let’s stay in touch…Ray V. MSM ’82

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