A Cast of Atlantic City Characters ....... #23 RAIN MAN


^^^^^^^WATCH ME FIRST^^^^

If you have not seen "RAIN MAN" starring  Tom Cruise you need to stop what you are doing and watch it via NETFLIX or AMAZON instant download, it is a Great Movie with great characters, including Dustin Hoffman as "Rain Man."  One of the most lovable movie characters ever created in my opinion.  I don't have much experience working with people who have these particular symptoms all at once but what exposure I have had mimic a character in a more recent film , Adam, about a young man with Asperger's Syndrome. 

This weekend, from a short distance, I was introduced to a guy..... a guy that made me smile.... made me smile like I smile when I watch Rain Man. 

We were standing in line waiting to pull the big handle on the over sized quick picks slot machine.  It cost $1 or $5 to play all of the lines and get an opportunity to win extra games (which equals extra winnings).  There were lots of people standing around.  One girl held up a cell phone that was recording her Dad's experience at the slots.  He had put in $100 orig and his total was showing over $1000 when we came up to the machine....... it was very exciting and he kept spinning for a long while after our arrival.  Everyone standing around was rooting him on us and watching him win made us want put some bills in this machine ourselves........ but not yet.............. once a few people have played and lost because "the odds are"no one would win again right away.

Everyone standing around had a common moment .......where the adrenaline was high........ and the watching of the reels spinning ........and endorphines released.........."excitement" was reflected on everyone's face but especially in his....... the guy with the blue work hat on.  He stood there with his hands in the pockets of his jeans and made comments that were kinda low in tone but clear, stating if only you had X amount more 7's on the spins that didn't win.  His eyes darted and glistened (but so were everyone elses) and his smile was fixed.......unwavering.

I wouldn't have thought another thing about him if we didn't spot him in the crowd the next time we passed this same large machine.  People made a wide semi-circle around the back of the machine and the girl that was losing this time (several hundred dollars) and there he was again , smiling, and  saying "aw man"  when the numbers didn't line up in the right way.  His eyes were still glistening and he was still smiling.  When the girl and the crowd dispersed, so did he ...........again.

Every time we passed by the machine and someone was playing he would be there ..........we wondered where he went in between players?

Everyday, he was there.  On checkout day (Monday) at about 11:30 or so I was sitting in the coffee shop with our luggage and my husband was taking care of the paperwork.  I saw him.  He was walking swiftly by, through the hallways coming from the direction of the "self park" lot.  He seemed to be on a mission, he had on his hat and was headed towards "THE MACHINE."   The machine that if he doesn't already know , he will, just how many spins and how many 7's and how many players it takes to get the "quick hit."

The simple pleasures, that obviously is making him a happy man.   I contrasted him to the many "grumpy" "grumbly" people that were walking around the casino, tensions high, losing money and even complaining when they hit a $1800 jackpot, complaining that it didn't get their losings back , REALLY?  me happy that they won at all! ........ TRUST ME there are many there that are NOT having a good time and showing it by facial expressions and body language not to mention their verbiage.  WHY EVEN GO when you are not having fun?  

He never played the machine himself.  I can't imagine that he would even want to?   I wonder if the casino cameras "see him" and if they do , if they are thinking about this lovable character and catching that contagious smile from above?


A Cast of Atlantic City Characters............ #22 - Michael Jackson ...... Sort of......


“It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”   

We went to Jersey Shore this past weekend on the spur of the moment we decided that would be a great idea to give ourselves a break, a nice long 3 nights away ........out of town....... and what a great break it was.  We met a CAST of Characters while we were gone,  animated colorful characters that we will never forget. Never would we have been introduced to this vast array of characters in our sleepy little town of Ptown.  Sometimes, for us, "getting away from it all" , really is "going to it all" in a sense.

I am not going to write about this group of humans in any particular order.  I am just going to write about them as they pop up in my mind as I sit here contemplating which ones to "leave in" and which ones will be "left out."  I knew each of these people for only a small fraction of time........ and I have subtitled each one with "A cast of Atlantic City Characters" ......but each one left a mark.... a mark that made a difference in my life in some way and probably without even knowing it......  which just goes to prove that it only takes............one person ........

Photo Credit:  Amazon.com
#22  Michael Jackson ......... sort of

I couldn't help but remember my daughter (about 5 or 6 years old) lying in her de-bunked bed with a leg crossed over her other bent leg......with an opened album....... THRILLER by Michael Jackson...... "Momma I'm gonna marry Michael Jackson when I grow up" just a matter of fact-ly.  Her Dad immediately got nervous about her "choice" of husband she wanted to marry, and how vocal she was about it.

There he was........... sitting at the slot machine with his long black curly hair, sequined silver glove on his right hand.  He was much rounder and shorter than I imagine Michael Jackson would be but he wore all of the clothes and even the dark glasses, in the midst of the glaring lights.........the blaring machines.........and "heat" in the room he wore those tall white socks , loafers , long sleeves and SUNGLASSES!  He was on "my machine" and showed no signs of leaving any time soon.  The machine was letting him play and helping his tier scores immensely........... he played there for well over an hour.  I buzzed around the area on other machines , waiting patiently and checking out the details of his outfit.  His job was probably impersonating ....... but I was wondering if his talent was singing / dancing or both?  Was he really talented or was he just dressing the part?  My husband kept whispering that he was going to ask him for his autograph ,  I would giggle at the thought and then say "no, don't do that."  (knowing full well he really wouldn't do that)  At one point my husband talked to him, asked him how he was doing etc etc.......... Ignoring the big white elephant in the middle of the room.  I wonder if people want you to ask? or do they want you to mind your own business?    I thought...... maybe they oughtta do a "people of casinos" photo book or webpage........ if I had a camera I may have
there is a slight chance that,  I may have started this project on this trip......... but instead I will introduce you to the guy that made me wonder, gave us something to talk about........ on our trip and will forever be embedded in our memory of Atlantic City.

Michael Jackson.........the impersonator gave life to the deceased Michael Jackson ......the one that sang his way into the heart of my husband and I growing up with him as a superstar,  a tragic hero , a legend that died suddenly and without any notice........  Just as some people will never forget hearing that "Elvis" died, I will never forget walking down Myrtle Beach to the pier when my daughter, Kelly, called to let us know the news. Overdose........he was trying to sleep......I so understand the refuge of sleep in this cruel world... and how after having such terrible things happen to him....... he put his life to rest and others will live to eulogize him at a slot machine in Atlantic City....... I won't ask........ I will just remember


#21 TOM ........... with an open door

Photo Credit:  amazon.com / Everessence Album cover
Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the minds true liberation

~ lyrics to Aquarius by Hair

It's funny how someone that you meet for a "nano-second" or for a short slice of time from the pie of life can make a difference in how you live your life.  I bet "Tom" doesn't remember me..........if he does it will be "vaguely" at most I am sure.  I remember Tom.........and a few things about him vividly.

I was 9 years old,  Tom and his room-mate lived next door to us in the apartments we moved into temporarily when we left our house on Shelby Drive in Richmond, VA.  

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Two single guys in their 20's.  I don't know if I would think so today but to a 9 year old that lived a not so "cool" life........they were  "SO COOL!"   Tom drove a Volkswagon which was very much in vogue......but his was super special it had a purple opaque stearing wheel in the shape of a peace sign! :) It was opaque true......but hard...... almost like blown glass that doesn't shatter?  it had some bubbles in the make up of it that you could see in the center making it a perfectly imperfect piece of art.....   I don't think I ever got to ride in the VW but I did admire this steering wheel often, through the open  window.  I would reach in and touch it sometimes and pretend the car was mine.   I think this type of steering wheel is extinct now...... may even have been "outlawed" because I haven't seen once since and  I even did some internet searches for them for this posting and was not successful in finding it in  any form or anything close  to show you.

photocredit: wikipedia
Sometimes Tom and his friend would leave their back door open.  I wasn't allowed to do that , but I often wanted to...... there is such freedom in that.   I love the "open door" with warm air flowing inside in the summer time, yes with the air conditioning on......... I love the open door when it rains......... if there are precautions taken not to get the carpet wet........   I love the door open when beautiful sounds are either inside coming out or outside coming in..........either way............ I was introduced to the album of Creedence Clearwater Revival and the / musical soundtrack to Hair/  AQUARIUS because Tom and his roommate left their door open........their music came outside and I loved to hear it and dance to it in the privacy of my own little world.

photo credit:  wikipedia
I learned to create "love bead necklaces" and bracelets at Tom's kitchen table.  They were stringing beads, I was babysitting myself after school and I asked them what they were doing through their open door.  They invited me to make my own necklace.   I did on elastic stretchy string.  I thought it was the best necklace in the world.  I made it.  It was cool.  I wish I had it today.   I have made, bought and gotten gifts throughout the years of "love beads" on a string, none of which have held a candle to my tiny glass bead necklace that I made that day.  Each bead was picked out with great purpose.  The colors were separated into little clear bowls on the table.  We each took beads and strung them on needles which held the knotted string on the other end.  We didn't talk.  We concentrated and sang songs to the radio in the background.  They gave me a root beer and we just made necklaces.   I taught my girls how to do the same.  All of them, my biological girls and the girls that I babysat or have just hung out here when we were "stringing."   Even when I was a participant in the stringing I have kept the supplies in the house for many years so if the urge ever struck ....... it could be done.

photo Credit:  lifeisgood.com
Tom and his room mate played Frisbee with their friends out back in the "common" courtyards from time to time. They taught me how to throw one because my eyes stared at them so long I am sure they felt compelled to include me, even though I would be a nucence more than anything and take time away from their adult time I am sure that they were trying to have with their friends.   I wasn't good at it then , still not the best at it as an adult but something I am never "without."  I have taught my kids to play Frisbee and taken it on almost every family vacation.  I love to toss it around ........anytime........ My favorite Frisbee is a "life is good" frisbee i recently bought on the Eastern Shore my husband and I took a few years ago.

Another thing that I "took" from my short encounter with "Tom" was a love for fried chicken livers and gizzards.   The smells.......coming through that back door.........lured me in............ and I asked what smelled so good.  "Gizzards and Livers" was the reply.  They were drinking beers , eating these deliciously smelling food that I had never heard of and were dipping them in big puddles of ketchup on their plates.   I asked to taste one , which of course they said I could.  I loved them.  They were "seasoned up" much better than any of the bland foods that came from the kitchen I ate in next door.  They were a bit spicy, chewy and satisfying.  I loved them then and yep, I love them now.  I make them now from time to time, its the perfect frugal meal......... you can get full for under a buck! :)   I have learned to make a few meals using these little delicacies over the years.  I can guarantee one thing, there is never a time that I use, make, order or see them......... I think fondly of "Tom."
photo credit:  http://www.seriouseats.com/

There is another very vivid memory that I own because Tom was one day he had his shirt off .   I noticed he had purple scratches all over his stomach. He was a large man in height as well as body structure.  There were times he would grab me by the arms and spin around and around making me dizzy but I found this funny too, I laughed and laughed... ..... I felt weightless.  This particular day Tom had his shirt off and I got a view of his stomach from the air.......he had 4 maybe 5 large purple scratches on his belly.   I asked him what happened and he shared with me a story........ a story of the time he was walking through the woods and a tiger attacked him, he had to kill the tiger but before he did he was scarred.   I believed this story a long time, my mind made him somewhat of a samuri warrior ......... ah to have the imagination of a 9 year old again.....
My image was crushed when I found out that those "scratches" were "stretchmarks"  ....battle wounds of a much different type.   Funny, no one ever asked me about my own stretchmarks........ at least where they came from....... but if they ever do I am ready with an answer for them........ that tiger in the woods (not to be confused with "tiger woods"  gets around!

I took pieces and parts of Tom at a very young age to develop who I have been my entire life.  Its amazing that someone so remote from your own life and whats going on in it...... can impact your life in such a way that you remember the details, the smells, the sights, even the touch of what I experienced through Tom and his room mate I can recall very easily, just by drifting away in thought.   Thanks Tom............where ever you are