FBQ Sunday Brunch 6/3/2012

Okay Miss Things. Told ‘ya a coupla weeks ago that the trip to Amsterdam broke me. So we’re going close by today. Touristy and tacky–filled with kitsch and all things commercial. No, that would not be my apartment. That would be Ocean City, Maryland. And the Queen loves it.

It’s a day that promises to be muggy–with at least 60% humidity. Hazy sunshine with wispy clouds that travel across the sky like a dapper older black gentleman with no particular place to go. The air feels like your bathroom a few minutes after you’ve finished a shower. In other words: an average early summer day on the Eastern Shore.

Located about two and a half hours from DC, and about four and a half hours from New York, Ocean City sits between the Isle of Wight Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean–with an Inlet formed by a hurricane as late as 1933.

As a kid, the Queen mostly remembers Ocean City because of having to cross the Annapolis Bay Bridge–the highest and longest in Maryland–in silence because my best friend’s grandmother thought that any sound whatsoever would send us over the side and into the bay. As a young adult I shunned it for a time because I thought it was just très tacky. Until for some reason I decided to use it as an administrative retreat location during the off-season. I fell madly in love with it. I realized that it was a beautiful place with incredibly friendly people. I just didn’t like the tourists.

So before it gets too busy, let’s grab something to eat; take a little walk on the Boardwalk for the sublime to the ridiculous; and visit a spot that is, in some ways, the exact opposite of Ocean City, and yet the perfect complement. Ready?

Tea with Tolkien

When the Queen learned for the first time that his favorite Ocean City restaurant, The Hobbit had relocated from the charming old Victorian edifice that I remembered–with sweeping views of Assawoman Bay (I swear I did NOT make that name up), to its new modern digs…I was worried.

However, no worries. The atmosphere inside is still reminiscent enough of its Tolkien namesake. And even for those of you Miss Things who cringe at the amount of Middle Earth detritus that fills the place, hopefully you’ll find the coziness of the surroundings conducive to amiable conversation. I’ll start:
Not so much in the books–but is it only me, or in the movies were Sam and Frodo not portrayed as the most ADORABLE romantic couple EVER?!!! Right up there with Tracy and Hepburn and Bogart and Bacall. But I digress. Try the Cream of Crab soup. It’s so fresh that they give you a mallet to smack the crab in case it’s not dead. And even though we’re in Maryland–try the Long Island Iced Tea. Finish a couple of those and you won’t care which state you’re in–Maryland OR New York.

Believe it or Not

Let’s stretch our legs a bit on the Boardwalk. The Queen hasn’t been here since the multi-million renovations that have taken place. It’s funny: no matter how much they try to spruce up places like Atlantic City, Coney Island and Ocean City, I still get a sense of that dilapidated charm that I remember loving as a kid. You can slap some make-up on an old Diva. But she’s still an OLD diva–and the better for it. My favorite parts of all of these boardwalk resorts remains the Penny Arcades and odd shops and attractions. And since we normally find some place cultural to go to after our Brunches–why should Ocean City be any different? Let’s head into a local museum: Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.

Are any of you Miss Things old enough to remember when Ripley’s used to have a comic in the Sunday Paper? I remember sitting for HOURS studying the comics in general and Ripley’s in particular. Boy, did they tap into that fascination so many of us humans have with the dichotomy between what we see as grotesque, and what we see as beautiful. In this regard, I present to you:

Where the Wild Things Are

photo by Kenny Lewis

Just down the coast from Ocean City is a place that couldn’t be more different from its Eastern Shore sister. No real Boardwalk to speak of, and not a shrunken head made into a candy bowl in sight. Chincoteague and Assateague islands offer another view of the American Landscape. One of the major attractions of the area are the wild ponies of Assateague Island. The lore is that the horses escaped from a Spanish Galleon hundreds of years ago and made a home on the island. The more likely truth is that land owners probably pastured their horses on the island to prevent from paying tariffs on them, and eventually the animals went feral. No matter what the story really is they are a majestic and awe-inspiring phenomenon. Driven from one island to the other, the exodus is truly one of the most exhilarating sights I’ve ever seen. This area truly reminds you of an intrinsic beauty that owes nothing to brightly colored attractions–other than the ones that Mother Nature provides. The ponies emphasize the fact that survival is possible even in the most brutal of circumstances. And the will to thrive is as natural as the windswept white beaches of these great islands.

It seems to me that the Queen needs both for his own survival: cotton candy and wild horses. How about you?

I’ve missed you Miss Things. Thank you once again for taking time out of your busy schedules to spend your Sunday with me.


10 thoughts on “FBQ Sunday Brunch 6/3/2012

  1. Oh, I haven’t been to Ocean City in ages! Damn, now I have a sudden craving for some boardwalk fries. Plenty of salt, half from the shaker and half from the sea air, and a splash of vinegar. Why do they never taste the same as when you’re walking down the boardwalk, dodging the People Mover?

    Missed you too!

    • I’ll see your boardwalk fries (after I grab a handful), and raise you a Funnel Cake.

      Regarding the taste of these guilty pleasures: I think the auditory, olfactory and visual senses are prime ingredients in these items. Unless you have the sounds of the calliope and seagulls; the smell of sea air and roasted peanuts; and the zaftig women of a certain age in their floral bathing suits with the butt flounce–it just ain’t gonna come out right.

      • Oh, I’ll leave the funnel cakes to y’all. And the cotton candy, and even the salt water taffy. I seem to have lost my sweet tooth in my old age. Thank merciful heavens for that, because I can’t blink an eye without another goddamned cupcake shop opening up in my neighborhood! I get a sugar headache just walking past the Magnolia’s, and keep on going. No such luck with the pizza-by-the-slice (or two) place, so it’s not like I don’t do plenty of damage with the savory stuff (hey, keep your hands off my fries!!).

  2. This trip was right up my alley. My son will be heading to Towson University this fall, so Maryland has been very much on my mind lately. As a young girl, I read the “Misty of Chincoteague” stories and dreamed of having a wild horse of my own. Ocean City looks like all kinds of fun, too.

    Mmmmmmm, cotton candy. I love the stuff, but it does terrible things to my waistline. They sell it in containers at the local grocery store, but that just doesn’t feel right.

    • Towson…great school. Hope he has fun there…not TOO much fun!

      I almost wrote about Misty of Chincoteague and provided a link to the movie. I read the books too–until my mother caught me in my room one Saturday afternoon, straddling my bed (with a shirt over my head for hair) screaming “Go, Misty, Go!”

      She switched out the Misty… books for the Hardy Boys.

      “They sell it in containers at the local grocery store, but that just doesn’t feel right.”

      (See my comment to mefein 1 above)

      As for what that stuff does to the waistline: I figure I can always get a job at the Sideshow as the World’s Fattest Man.

  3. Yay, Sunday brunch!

    Wow, Ocean City–I have to admit it is a place that has never really been on my radar. I’m familiar with the similar old, tacky, fun, faded resorts along the northeast coast of the U.S., but have never been to or even heard much about this one. And Assateague Island with its wild ponies? Beautiful and fascinating. Thanks for the education about these places!

    I’m not much of a Tolkien fan, but I agree, Sam and Frodo did make an adorable couple in the movies.

    Ughhh, I think I’ve had too many funnel cakes–I need somthing to wash them down. Can we stop for another Long Island iced tea now?

  4. Glad to see you back, I missed you!

    The Hobbit Restaurant and ‘Misty of Chincoteague’. One takes me back to high school and the other to 5th grade (good, bad or indifferent). I’ve never been to Ocean City, but I’m a fan of the old resort cities that still exist in the U.S. I’ll have to check it out some day soon, especially for the funnel cakes and cotton candy – neither of which makes any sense except at a place like that.

    Big Tolkien fan, and loved the movies, including your favorite adorable couple.

    Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

  5. What a lovely outing!

    It’s not always easy to put together a day trip that’s worth a little sweat once summer starts in – but this one was a treat.

    Scotty, you KNOW some of your readers remember Ripley’s Believe It or Not in the funny papers! I didn’t have your fascination with them, but of course did the horse books thing (including many of Ms. Henry’s) at the right age (as well as the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew & the Hardy boys).

    Thanks for putting together such a nice trip. This year I’ve got to make it to the beach.

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