Coney Island and the Mermaid Parade


A man in a golden Egyptian pharaoh costume gave me a quarter to enter the Wonder Wheel bathroom. I chose a stall, which after the public bathroom on the boardwalk- an apocalyptic encounter with a half-inch of water on the floor and toilets full to the brim with tampon wrappers sprinkled over them (you should have seen the line for the women’s) – was like peeing at home.

We waited in line for about an hour an a half to get on the Sling Shot – the brand new ride that whips you 150 feet into the air to somersault and see upside down Coney Island and Brighton Beach and the Atlantic Ocean, with the Wonder Wheel and the Cyclone and the Boardwalk and the white surf and the projects and the curvature of the earth. It was worth it.

Afterwards, I felt high, like my body had been manipulated to do things it couldn’t have done on its own and I was drugged, elated. Literally thrilled.

After the swim in the water and the freaks and clam-covered nipples and the Nathan’s and the ride and the Russian food in Brighton Beach, I was entirely satisfied getting home at 10:30. Coney Island had none of the empty nostalgia it usually does and when I saw the police barricaded streets and the trash-filled gutters, I felt proud that we were carrying on its tradition.

Oh, and the night before, when I saw Beirut play at the Northside Festival, was great. Their drummer really ties them together – he didn’t miss a beat. Yeah, I’ve been taking advantage of the city this summer.


By Daniel Ryan Adler

Daniel Adler writes fiction and nonfiction and is finishing his MFA at University of South Carolina.

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