I have the good fortune of living in a tourist town. This is a new revelation of mine. Mostly I just think of Salem as home and never really had any feelings about it one way or another, but lately I've been trying to see my city in a new light...with a tourist's eye.
Yeah, it gets really crowded sometimes, and I find myself cursing the traffic and the out of towners who had no idea how to navigate our weird traffic patterns and tiny streets. When I'm trying to deliver my sons to soccer practice and I get stuck behind The Trolley, The Pedi-Cab or the Horse Drawn Carriage, I am not a happy camper!
One day last week I was looking for something to do with Little while Medium and Big were at practice. Little suggested Salem Willows. I am not a big fan of The Willows, in fact I pretty much hate it, but he has been asking to go for awhile and since I was in that end of town I said, "Okay, why not?" Almost instantly regretting it the second those words were out of my mouth.
Let me explain a little about The Willows. It has it's share of cheesy arcades, slush stands, greasy fast food joints and hole in the wall Chinese Food Emporiums (Rumor has it, the Chop Suey sandwiches are "to die for", but I've never been brave enough). It does have THE BEST popcorn on the planet at Hobb's. Unfortunately, it's also a place to suck up your hard earned cash in a relatively short amount of time. So as I cruised around the parking lot a few times trying to find a spot, I was really dreading my decision to give in to Little's request.
However, since I have a "once a year" philosophy about The Willows I figured I was getting it over early.
So I opened up my "tourist eye" and off we went. I was really going to try to see this place in a new light. I splurged for $15.00 in tokens for the machines and told Little that when they were gone, that was it. There are two different arcades, one with awful video games and the other more kid friendly one with older arcade games like Skee-ball. (Who doesn't love skee-ball??) These machines have the tickets that come out that can be traded in for cheapo-prizes when you're finished.
Little was having a blast and I was having a blast watching him have a blast! So we played our games, yeah, I played too, I can't stay away from Skee-ball, we collected our tickets and made our way to the dreaded prize counter. I hate this part because inevitably there is going to be major disappointment when Little realizes all he has enough tickets for are plastic spider rings (very cool) and midget tootsie rolls. (My personal favorite).
Surprisingly enough, he did quite well for himself, scoring a whiffle ball and bat, goofy Groucho Marx glasses and a whole bunch of Tootsie Rolls! (Yah Baby!!!)
Off we went for some lunch which consisted of some really (surprisingly) good fries and a foot long dog. We picked a spot on a wall and while he ate, I enjoyed the view. The Willows' saving grace is that it is a seaside park. This alone made the day worth it.
We took the scenic view back to the car, taking the time to sit on a bench and watch a sea gull continuously drop a clam down on to the rocks so he could get at his lunch. "That's pretty smart of them, don't you think Little?" "We should have saved him some fries Mom, it would have been easier." This kids makes me laugh every freakin' day.
You know, as annoying as those gulls can be, I have to admit that's pretty smart. I mean seriously, one seagull, seagull generations ago figured out that little trick and passed it down to her (because you know it HAD to be a woman seagull) children who passed it along to their children...etc, etc, etc.
So, as we left the bench and made our way to the car, Little said, "Mom, this was the best day ever!" He says that a lot, but today it really was! Score one for mom!