years ago while on transiting the Indian Ocean, the cruiser I served aboard
came across a fishing vessel in distress. The small boat's drive
shaft sheared in moderately heavy seas and the boat was now floating without
power or means of communication. Our launch reached vessel with some
difficulty in the gathering seas, removed the broken drive shaft and brought
the pieces back to the cruiser. Our nuclear machine shop, using metal
designed and priced for nuclear repairs, fashioned a replacement shaft.
With the new drive shaft the fishing vessel headed back to India.
Believing we saved Indian fisherman from likely doom, our commander indicated
accolades from Washington would follow shortly.
Days later the fishing vessel equipped with a
reactor-quality, Monel-alloy shaft arrived in India and the crew was arrested
for smuggling drugs. The boat contained heroin, not fish. The
Navy quickly forgot our efforts and we were advised to do the same.
Sometimes the best intentions end in bad press.
skip breakfast at the hotel as I prepare for a short trip to Kennebunkport
and a visit to the Seashore Trolley Museum. I plan to find a restaurant
in the resort town made famous by Presidents Bush. After the hotel valets
take turns driving the MINI, I climb in and head south.
The sunny weather of yesterday turns grey this
morning and the rain starts to fall as I depart Portland. I leave
the turnpike at the exit marked for Kennebunkport only to find myself right
back on the turnpike. The GPS unit indicates I should be on a different
road altogether. I locate another exit ten miles further south and
double back toward the coast.
Kennebunkport is a small, resort town populated
by the uber-rich, flag-waving, blue-hair or stroller-pushing who drive
big cars on narrow roads. What few street signs exist are obscured
naturally or intentionally. I am completely lost thirty minutes after
leaving the turnpike. None of the road names match the directions
to the Seashore Trolley Museum.
Frustrated and hungry, I call information with
the intent of asking the museum for directions. The museum's voicemail
system answers my call and with a kind voice: "If you would like
a message for the President, press 1...". I am surprised to learn
the President collects voicemail at a museum. My mood darkens, and
I leave a strongly worded indictment of the current world situation and
I decide Mister Rogers cured my interest in trolleys.
(In my growing black mood, I think: "The proper name is streetcar,
you dumb east coast fucks.") I return to the turnpike and head south
Three hours have now passed since I left Portland
and I am very hungry. The highway sign indicates food available at
the next exit. I leave the turnpike and once more become lost in
the wilderness of New Hampshire or Massachusetts, whatever useless East
Coast state I'm in. I can tell you the emotional state I'm in and
it wouldn't be described by any nice term. Lost, hungry and annoyed
with the inability of New England to properly label or identify streets,
I drive back to the turnpike one more time.
My blood sugar level plummets so low I can only
think evil, evil thoughts. No food is in sight and the radio announcers
all drawl in stupid Bostonian accents. Where did these people learn
to shove their vowels through their nasal cavities while adding the letter
R anywhere they please? I shut off the radio because continuing to
listen will cause me to slam headfirst into a traffic divider.
pass without the sight of food. Then, like the sun breaking through
clouds, the opening of the Eastern Gates of Jerusalem, the passing of a
kidney stone, there...over the horizon...could it be? Yes!
It is! Golden
arches! I cannot recall a time when processed junk food made
me so happy.
This McDonald's is the ultimate freeway McDonalds:
direct turnpike access with two drive through lanes, each supplied with
a conveyor belt from the kitchen. (No, once again, I am not making this
up.) I opt to go inside and am treated to mezzanine seating with
a view of the falling rain outside and an unending conveyor of cardboard
boxes to the remote order outposts of the drive through windows.
In chorus with my cholesterol level, my mood rises
and I am restored. I laugh: "Ha! Ha! Ha!" as I think of the last
three hours of driving.
The food arrived just in time as I will now spend
two and one half hours traveling ten miles across Boston. Boston
appears intriguing and I have plenty of time to reach this conclusion as
I sit staring outward from my personal traffic jam. Boston is legendary
traffic and the city fathers are happy to provide me an excellent
demonstration. I resolve never to return to Boston in a vehicle
I must drive myself.
clears and I sail down, out, up and around Cape Cod to Provincetown.
It is late when I arrive and the
bed and breakfast is a welcome sight. I have managed to arrive
on opening night of the Provincetown International Film Festival which
is the one time each year when straight people outnumber gay people in
this uber-queer (10 points for using "uber" more than once) destination.
I don't mind. I've been fed and the world is at peace. Best
of all, the Virgin Mary is in Maine.
What? Oh, yes I forget to mention yesterday
this one tidbit: The Virgin Mary appeared in the condensation between
the two panes in a double-pane window at a hospital in Maine. The
pilgrims coming to see the apparition have made it impossible for nurses
to get to work or patients to reach their doctors. Around the corner
from Mary, between the panes of another window, pilgrims claim to see the
image of an embryo. According to the faithful, these two images are
a warning from Mary for the hospital not to form an alliance with another
hospital that performs abortions. I thought of driving to see Mary
for myself, but given my difficulty navigating New England, I thought it
best to skip Double Pane Condensation Mary.
Anyway, every Mary I know is headed to Canada
to get married. And that, my dears, is a miracle for which we can
Tomorrow - a day in Provincetown.