On The Boardwalk

It’s the middle of July. Early afternoon. I’m in Ocean City, New Jersey. The sky is a clear cerulean blue. A perfect day to be on the Boardwalk. Down by the seeee-eea.

I spot a van nearby with Action News 6 and the ABC logo painted on its side. A few feet away, a man stands in profile, framed by the silver-blue water behind him, aiming a shoulder rig camera at a reporter speaking into a microphone. I later learn that a 67-year-old woman from London was impaled in nearby Seaside Heights— by an umbrella. The news report said a portion of her aluminum beach umbrella pierced her ankle after being blown by a gust of wind. She was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune and was doing fine, as of the last report.

To my right, a bright yellow plane seems to hover over the water. Nearby, a boat tows a rainbow-colored parachute with two people attached. People mill about, some with children in strollers. Teens with perfectly coiffed hair roam the Boardwalk in packs, chattering endlessly.

I hear the constant cawing of seagulls overhead. Some swoop in and land on benches and tables. The tantalizing aroma of pretzels hangs in the air. A variety of shops line the boardwalk as far as I can see. T- shirts. Arcades. Pizza. Stromboli. Henna tattoos. Behind them a Ferris wheel towers overhead. Beside it is a corkscrew-type rollercoaster and one of those elevator rides that drops you so fast you forget how to breathe.

Late afternoon. I’m sitting at an outside table, munching on a cheeseburger and fries. Families with small children sit nearby having dinner. Seagulls are everywhere. It’s like a scene from the Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Birds. Things get serious when one of them lands on my table. I like to think of myself as a reasonably generous bloke, but I have a strict policy about sharing cheeseburgers.

I don’t.

The cheeseburger is gone. I’m ready for more photos. The sun is low, and I feel a cool breeze off the water. I attach the telephoto lens to my Canon and prepare for an award-winning shot. Out on the dunes, young and older couples stand beneath a deep indigo sky, gazing at the ocean, their words drowned out by the crashing breakers. One young man stands on a lifeguard’s chair, holding his phone at arm’s-length. Beach selfie.

About 40 yards to my left, a bearded man stands to the side, holding court with a group of smiling young people, frequently waving his arms in a theatrical fashion. His ball cap, T-shirt, shorts, and socks are all bright red. Trying to be inconspicuous, I point my camera lens at him and squeeze off a few shots. As his body turns slightly, I see the large, wooden cross hanging from his neck and a sign in his right hand. Painted on one side in red-and-black letters are the words Ask Me To Rap. The other side reads Jesus Saves.

I turn to my right and scan the crowd. An older man with long white hair leans his back against the wooden railing. A younger man with a fresh haircut and sunglasses plays Salt-N-Pepa’s Push Iton a saxophone.

It’s getting darker. The Boardwalk is lit up like Christmas Eve. I pack up my gear and head home. No award-winning photos for me this year.

Nudged out by Beach Selfie Guy. 78






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