A week out from our New England getaway and I feel I’ve finally recovered enough to put some thoughts down. Now, it’s not what you’re thinking; those girls had too much of a good time, i.e. too much liquor, not enough sleep and some overall debauchery. No. One has to remember that Ellen and I have reached that age of maturity where scenic beauty, antique shops and the overall quaintness factor rate high. Pretty depressing, huh?
Saturday we raced down I-95 (forget the scenic route, we were looking to make time) to Salem, Mass. The operative word here is race; I never knew Ellen had the Mario Andretti tendencies that came bubbling to the surface somewhere south of Portland. I had to remind her that she had “Precious Cargo On Board” since she was chauffeuring a mother of two.
Being the weekend before Halloween, every freak from the four corners of the globe had descended on Salem. It took two hours to pull into town from 3 miles away. So much for the quaint replica of Salem during the time of the Witch Trials that we innocently expected; the town had become Pepsi-fied. Yes, Salem’s “Haunted Happenings” were being brought to you by the Pepsi Generation, with signs posted all over town declaring “No Alcohol, Drink Pepsi.”
After one too many a Pepsi, we needed a potty and the local Port-O-Pot was not it. So we scrambled into the ancient Town Hall to use their facilities, only to stumble upon the 1st Annual Witches Reunion Craft Show. I am not making this up. Ellen and I carefully navigated the sacred circle (just a bunch of glitter and tulle thrown on the floor, but who am I to tempt fate?) to the sacred potty. Upon exiting the restroom, we thanked the witches and the sole warlock and quickly made our escape before any hex or evil eye could befall us.
After enduring the masses, swap-meet type booths, Peruvian pan flute singers (is this the official theme music of Salem?), kids crawling over the tombstones in the witches cemetery, and a carnival barker hawking the Witch Museum, we decided to get the hell out of Salem.
That night we skipped ambiance and decided to go where the locals do. After sufficiently stuffing ourselves on crustaceans of every variety, we went out for a beer. Three hours later I was revisiting my dinner as I spent the next 5 hours hugging the Porcelain God. It was obvious I had a bad crustacean, the question was, would I be able to make it home on the plane the next day? As Ellen played nursemaid, I finally rid myself of the last of my $16.95 lobster dinner and was on my way to a recovery.
But first, unfinished business. Of course I can’t go away and not bring back gifts (only the specific ones the kids have deemed worthy), so after five hours of heaving my guts out, I went the next morning before we left to get the kids something at the wee souvenir shoppe near the water.
With that mission accomplished (Maine sweatshirt and fishing boat replica), it was off to the airport to encounter the flight attendant from hell. This was no Susie Sunshine eager to serve, this was Lizzie Borden on a bad day. Carry-on luggage? How dare you! When we finally got situated I was able to crash (oops, not a good analogy to use when you’re in a plane) till we landed.
So Salem was an over-commercialized nightmare and I had a bad something-or-other; all in all, we had a blast. Ellen did meet her sailor and I did have my lobster; although it will be quite a while till I venture down Seafood Lane again.