Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Still The Same"

Like the Bob Seger song of the same name.  In fact, if you “YouTube” the song and play it while you’re reading this, you’ll have a blog post with its own personalized soundtrack. 

I think I’m a genius!  I mean, not entirely, because I’m not doing it myself, but you know… I had the idea.  

I thought I was way finished with the Golden Globes.  But then, a situation came up that reminded me that no matter how old I get, there are parts of me that remain unalterably the same.

For example:

The “Acute Gullibility Factor.”

Which you’d think would improve with age. 

“Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me a few hundred times… I’m an idiot!

With me, however, it seems indisputably the case:  No improvement.  On the “up” side, at least my gullibility is not getting worse.  Although, come to think of it, how could it?  “Gullibility” is like falling down a hole.  There is no falling half way.

So Anna and I are on the phone, hashing over the Golden Globes.  First off, she is surprised that I watched it, because I have demonstrated little interest in awards shows since they stopped nominating me, the last time being in 1997, for being a “Consulting Producer” on The Larry Sanders Show.

Anna then asked if I watched the whole thing.  And, to her amazement, I replied, “Yes.”  To which the only reasonable follow-up question, and, being no dope Anna asked it, was…


Her question immediately shot me back to the mid-1950’s, when our family regularly spent the “Passover Season” in pre-casino, Atlantic City – eight days of matzah and merriment at Malamud and Meltzer’s renowned Breakers Hotel.  (I recall two giant monogrammed “M’s”, intertwined on the entryway carpet.)

I received a dollar a day to entertainment myself at the Boardwalk’s arcades, a sufficient amount, since the arcade games were a nickel.  Five cents was also the purchase price for little brown paper bags of birdseed, which you could hold in your hand while the Boardwalk’s ubiquitous gatherings of pigeons gobbled it up, pecking simultaneously at your palm, as if birdseed was good, but birdseed mixed with a little “palm skin” – Delicious!

When I tired of the “Shooting Gallery, I could hang out with the world famous “Mr. Peanut” at the enormous Planters Emporium.  I could get my shoes polished by a guy who, from dawn till dusk, stood dead-eyed, mechanically droning, “You can’t look near if your shoes are beat.”  I could also wander down to the Steel Pier, and imagine an event long-since curtailed – most probably by the ASPCA

Horses diving into the ocean off the end of the pier.

But my favorite activity, bar none, was watching guys try to sell things. 

Though I have no hucksteral tendencies myself, I am in prostrating awe of the “Huckster Community.”  There must have been a dozen of them, interspersed among the Boardwalks’ booths, mesmerizing “Magicians of Merchandising” stationed behind tall counters before a rapidly accumulating audience, with their sleeves rolled up and their machine-gun patter, hawking products you don’t want, you don’t need, and you will never use in your entire life.

Glass knives.  Pens that write underwater.  Athlete’s foot remedies (accompanied by graphic photographs of patients, their legs strapped to hospital beds, keeping them from scratching their excruciatingly itching feet into a lacerating pulp.) 

And, of course, there was the Chop-o-matic.

“It slices.  It dices.”

I could literally watch these guys for hours.  The sun would go down, and I’d still be standing there, buying nothing, but utterly entranced. 

On one memorable occasion, one enterprising “Pitch Man” brought out “Robby The Robot”, of TV and crap movie fame.  I was nine, and I was in heaven.  After a brief but captivating performance, “Robby The Robot” departed the stage.  I distinctly remember the “Pitch Man” unfastening his wristwatch, and placing it on the counter in front of him.  He then pointed dramatically at the wristwatch and announced,

“In exactly ten minutes, my friends, “Robby the Robot” will return to the stage, where, for your entertainment, he will perform a little dance.” 

I remained there long after it was dark, the indefatigable “Pitch Man” babbling away, hawking everything from “Shammy Cloths” to stain remover.

“Robby The Robot” never returned to the stage. 

The next thing I knew, I was surrounded by two very tall Atlantic City police officers, who escorted me back to the Breakers Hotel, delivering me to my apoplectic mother.  I did not understand the excitement.

“I thought you were lost!” my mother tearfully exclaimed.  To which I replied a line that, in time, became part of “Pomerantz Family Lore”:

“‘Lost’ isn’t when you don’t know where I am,” I explained.  “‘Lost’ is when I don’t know where I am.”

Why did I remain watching that pitchman for over seven hours?

I was waiting for “Robby The Robot” to come back.

Why did I watch the entire Golden Globes show?

I was waiting for hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to come back.

(A three-hour program – they returned to the stage maybe three times.)

Yup, they’re still doin’ it.

And me?

I am still fallin’ for it.

1 comment:

Rico said...

Good story, there have to be some more stories of that annual trek.