Ramblings and snapshots by M. Scott Smith

From the Less Mature Files: Effervescence in Atlantic City 🔗

As an undergraduate at Drexel University in the mid-90's, I served as a columnist, contributing weekly bits of satire in an effort to amuse others or at least myself. I'm dusting off some of those columns and reprinting them here, in raw, unedited form.

Each time one of my college pals turned 21, it meant one thing: it was time to hop on New Jersey Transit and head to Atlantic City. Sure, there was the allure of gambling -- keeping an eye on the cocktail waitresses, hearing the shuffle of Blackjack cards and the dancing of dice as they landed on the Craps table, and knowing that we were now finally old enough to legally blow our life savings on a round of roulette. Of course, we didn't have any life savings. We were broke college students. Really, we went to Atlantic City for the cheap buffets. (Again, we were college students.)

In this column written in '95, I provided an intepretation of the casinos in Atlantic City.

Not too far from Drexel lies the glitter and glamour of the effervescent Las Vegas. No, wait, I must be thinking of Atlantic City. Las Vegas is in Nevada.

I suppose if one were asked to describe Atlantic City, one of the last things one would say is that "Atlantic City is effervescent." This is probably true. But ask two people to describe Atlantic City, and you'll undoubtedly get that adjective in unison. (Try it.) I didn't ask two, but I've always wanted to describe something as being effervescent, and there's so few nouns this neat-sounding adjective can be applied to.

Effervescent means "bubbly," like carbonated beverages, which cocktail waitresses will gladly serve you for free in Atlantic City if you tip them more than it would cost to buy the beverage yourself at a boardwalk vendor.

Of course, it would be cheaper to establish your own bottling company than to buy a drink from a boardwalk vendor, and then you could compete with giants such as Snapple, whose products are not usually effervescent, depending on what chemicals are currently dissolved in the Hudson River.

So, you see, effervescent can't even be applied to all beverages. I strongly feel that it's a slacker adjective. Adjectives should be broad enough that you can at least use them to describe people in derogatory and demeaning ways.

The greatest PG-13 adjective of all time was "Smurfy." There are some R-rated adjectives which are also flexible, but entirely inappropriate for a publication as tasteful as the Triangle.

But we won't get into that, because the point of this week's column is to describe Atlantic City for those who have not been fortunate enough to visit this fine city, or were too drunk at the time to remember.

Atlantic City is home to numerous casinos, the Miss America pageant, and Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Johnson, who have resided there since, as Mrs. Johnson puts it, "before cows could work the Drive-Thru window at McDonalds."

Casinos are businesses which have been established to hand out money in fun and exciting ways. In the past, casinos used to have drive-thru windows where handfuls of cash were literally handed out to anyone who drove by. But extensive marketing research performed by the casinos revealed that most Americans would enjoy receiving free money in more exciting ways.

So the drive-thru windows shut down. Mrs. Johnson argues that the casinos partly made this decision because the newly-hired cows didn't have opposable thumbs, which made handing out money to passengers in cars a continuing challenge.

Casinos devised all kinds of games to entertain people as they received their free cash - games such as Blackjack and Craps, and slot machines for that portion of the population that would be overwhelmed by the challenge of doing anything more than pulling a lever. Today's casinos maintain this character: providing entertainment and "coffee, soda, juice" to go along with all that free cash.

There's only one catch - you must be 21 to enter a casino. This is because the government prohibits charitable companies from giving free money to anyone "underage." Some of you might be rolling your eyes and saying "but Scott, Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution states that a person must be at least thirty-five years of age to run for President, and that's never been enforced."

I have gained some experience myself with the various casinos at Atlantic City these past couple months. I discovered that New Jersey Transit has trains that leave from 30th Street Station direct to Atlantic City, dozens of times a day.

They have made it very easy to get to Atlantic City. For just $6, they will build a track from 30th Street Station to your dorm room or apartment so the train can pick you up right from your doorstep.

Once you arrive at Atlantic City, go to the nearest casino and get your free money. Be sure to glance up and wave at the sea of video cameras subtly hidden underneath one-way mirror domes - at any given time, you'll see no less than the number of atoms in the breath of air you just exhaled.

These cameras are there so effervescent security personnel can assure that every casino guest is given free money fairly. Where do the casinos get enough employees to watch all those closed-circuit T.V. monitors? Well, you didn't think all those cows were unemployed, did you? They're really good at it.

Or so says Mrs. Johnson.

M. Scott Smith is a senior majoring in math and computer science. He encourages you to gamble with your head, not over it.

- By M. Scott Smith, September 25, 1995. All rights reserved.

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