I boarded the bus to Atlantic City on Saturday afternoon with a sunglasses, a Starbuck’s Double Shot and a dream. This trip had been talked about for years and finally we decided to pull the trigger for my roommate, Hillary Clinton’s birthday celebration. The brilliance of this bus company, Academy Bus, is not to be missed. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday they offer buses to and from A.C. every half-hour, where they conveniently drop you at various casinos and give you a $25 slot machine voucher. Since the price of a round-trip ticket is only $35, you’re arguably only out $10 if slot machine play is your thing, meaning gambling and guidos are a mere 10-Dolla holla and two and a half hours away!
After some traffic delays on New Jersey turnpike, we arrived at the Taj Mahal around 6 p.m. where we discovered that three of the buildings in Trump Plaza were intensely suffering from an ill-timed broken air conditioner (an official heat advisory was also in effect). Enter an onslaught of “No A/C in A.C.” jokes here. On the bus ride down my friend and I decided it best to adopt guidette names for our A.C. adventure, so upon stepping into Trump’s bankrupt estate I became Gina and my friend was Dottie, inspired by the acclaimed MTV’s True Life: I Have a Summer Share. We quickly exchanged our bus voucher for slot credit and watched our slot credits dribble away in less than 10 minutes to the tune of circus-$1-slot-machine-ringing. Ah, the sound of losing money. Disenchanted with the slot floor, Dottie and I met up with the rest of our crew and I hit up the blackjack tables. Though some of the gentlemen were successful and won playing The Big Wheel, I managed to throw away money at the blackjack table with some bad juju and landing 15 and 16 hands all night. I won’t be looking for an invite to M.I.T.’s blackjack team anytime soon.
As far as comparing this town to Vegas goes, A.C. is definitely the punk kid brother of the two. I was surprised at how non-walkable the city was compared to Vegas. The “strip” is merely connected by the boardwalk, which suffers from the intangible horizon problem—you keep walking with your destination in sight and never get any closer. (Tropicana, where are you?!) Perhaps some of that is to blame on the typical boardwalk distractions: the ice cream and cotton candy stands, tattoos (real and henna), arcade games and lure of oversized stuffed animals, and all the glow sticks a Jersey Shore heart can desire.
The most interesting portion of this trip came when Dottie and I boarded the bus back to Manhattan at 3 a.m. after Hill’s birthday festivities wound down. The bus crowd at this hour is quite eclectic. There are the drunk frat boys leaning on each other and road barriers for support. There are Jersey townies that get off at the Cheese Quik stop. (We met a strapping man named Billy that was 44, told us he used to weigh 200 pounds but is now stuck at 375 because he is addicted to the A.C. buffet scene. He managed to only eat three hot dogs, two bacon cheeseburgers, fries and a Coke for dinner that day.) Then there are the guys that want to pick fights with anyone that attempts to cut the bus line. Has anyone ever noticed how people from N.J. and N.Y. say “on the line” instead of “in line”? He better not have cut you on that line! Ima gettin on this bus- you watch and see!
Alas, we made it back to Manhattan. Dreams crushed, pockets lighter and exhausted— it made for one hell of a birthday, though. There goes Number 1 on the Bucket List!