My Own Coney Island

I have been to Coney Island three times.  Now that I have a boyfriend who grew up in Brooklyn and lives ten minutes from it, I’m sure I’ll be there many more times.  As the concept of nostalgia has arisen several times already, here’s some nostalgia of mine (courtesy of Livin’ The Dream).

Coney Island Before It Closes
I’ve always wanted to experience the family-oriented quirky fun of Coney Island. Apparently, my ideas of Coney Island are tinged with 50s nostalgia. Coney Island is not a place of carefree fun completely. It’s actually quite sketchy. Z and I found that out when we arrived around 6 on Sunday night and saw cops patrolling every block and drunken loud patrons all over the boardwalk.

I had a mission. Ride the Wonder Wheel. Maybe ride the Cyclone. Walk on the boardwalk. Eat some candy. That was it.

We strolled the boardwalk. It’s falling apart from so much foot traffic. I don’t know why Coney Island touts a freak show that you have to pay for when there’s a free one right on the beach. Some really odd people were there.

Then I got scared by a bag, which Z found hilarious. We were walking and it was windy and this paper bag flew up next to us from the beach. I didn’t see what it was. All I knew was that something was moving next to me. I jumped a little and he kept walking and said, You thought that was alive. Yeah, and what.

The Wonder Wheel was awesome. We went around twice and took a bunch of pictures. It was really really REALLY windy and my hair was out of control. I looked a mess the rest of the time we were there.

We saw Shoot the Freak but there was no freak in the alley. Where’s the quirk!??! It was really dumb. The barker for it was rapping and Z was like, let’s get out of here because he’s a really bad rapper. He was. We left.

Then we tried to find something to eat. I told him not to pack up the cooler because I’m tired of taking food with us everywhere we go. Of course, I chose an inopportune time to be tired of it because all the food there was fried carnival food. Z had a hot dog at Nathans to tide him over. I had a coconut covered marshmallow from this awesome candy shop. The candy shop was the best place there. I bought a box of salt water taffy and for Fred a candy apple which they called a jelly apple.

We took a few more pictures because the sun was going down and the lights of the amusement park were pretty. I said no to the Cyclone because we watched it go around a few times and it seemed too rickety for me. The scary carni folk came out and it was an even sketchier scene. One of the guys was literally pushing Z to play his game and Z pushed on by and the guy yelled at him for touching him when Z didn’t touch him–he was touching Z and didn’t get us to play and got pissy about it. I was like, let’s just keep on walking to the car please. Z agreed that leaving before it was completely dark and while we were still alive was a very good plan. We’d had our fun and now Coney Island can close. I won’t be as sad as I thought I’d be to see it go.

[Thankfully, it didn’t go anywhere, and I was able to experience this…]

Roll It, And Pat It, And Mark It With A C
As the sun went down, we geared up for Coney Island. He’s been wanting to take me for the past two weeks. It’s been pretty chilly to go. Even though the night had turned windy, I said I still wanted to go.

Coney Island was alive with people. There was a dance party on the boardwalk. Lots of people were playing games and riding rides. We found a photo booth and took some pictures and they came out to be some of the silliest pictures since we didn’t know when the camera was going to go off or where we were looking or how quickly it would work. We almost look like we have something seriously wrong with us, but at least it looks like we’re having a good time.

He wanted to shoot a basketball into a hoop, which is really hard to do since the hoop is only slightly bigger than the ball. He got it in. He won! The guy running the game told me to pick a prize. Here were the options: a purple dog, a green dog (both sad looking), a purple monkey (ill looking), two unidentifiable stuffed items, and a large clown fish. I would not choose. I said, I didn’t win so it’s your choice. He chose the clown fish because it was the most ridiculous thing to walk around with.

Because the Kentucky Derby was that day, we played the Kentucky Derby game. You wouldn’t know how many years of higher education I have floating around in my mind had you witnessed my sudden incapacity to understand how to play the game. You have to roll two balls under a slab of plastic along a longish cubby and make it fall into a hole. The blue holes make your horse move slowly and the red holes make it move most quickly and then the other colors are in between. I was like, why can we just toss it over the plastic? Then one of the women working came over and was like, do you understand how to play? I said, I think so.

We’d been the first people there but then the rows filled up and about thirteen people were playing. The bell sounded and I went into the zone. I aimed and rolled, aimed and rolled. I never looked up at the horses. I heard the guy calling out that Eight and Eleven were neck and neck in the lead. Brooklyn was Eleven. Then the guy said we were near the end. Then he yelled, And Number Twelve is taking the lead and Number Twelve Wins!!!

I was Number 12. I was not the only one in shock. From the woman working there to Brooklyn, jaws were all dropped. I won a cracked-out bear. The woman next to Brooklyn huffed off, mumbling, This is some bullshit. Aw, maybe she’ll win the derby next year.

The day had been amazing. It was not over yet. We decided to watch a movie on demand. I chose “The Box,” and he said it sounded interesting. After I woke up from my thirty naps during the movie to see the end, I apologized for choosing the worst movie ever. He said he was revoking all movie-choosing privileges. I understood.

There will be plenty of time in the future to earn them back. There will be more derbies to win and more cakes to bake. There will be more cracked-out stuffed animals and of course more food shopping. The guarantee is this–Brooklyn asked me to be his girlfriend sometime between activity three and four and I said I was totally into that. So I have a boyfriend, just like that.


About Christina M. Rau

Poet, blogger, writer, editor, professor
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