Sunday, October 30, 2011

Local Color

People in Maine aren't terribly outgoing. I wouldn't say they are unfriendly but they seem to like to keep to themselves and aren't too interested in outsiders. This may also be a product of our being in high tourist areas. For better or for worse, we have started making inroads into the local scene. One night we stopped for dinner at Cap'n Nemo's, a ramshackle lighthouse bar surrounded by weird outgrowths, add-ons and, of course, lobsta' bouys, where locals like to drink and talk and dine. We talked with the owner for a while and learned he had just bought a gold mine in Utah, which he is going out to see next week, and a 66' ferro-cement sailboat down in Georgia, both, sight unseen, over the internet. He admitted to us that he "might be guilty of poor judgment," as his strapping daughter, just down from Alaska, loomed in the background.

Isaac has been seriously into magic since he received a magic book for his birthday, so we were excited to see that there was going to be a magician at a fundraiser for Common Good Soup Kitchen. The mission of the kitchen is to try to bring the people, especially seniors, in the community together during the isolating, bitter-cold winter months to help everyone get by, both financially and mentally. It turned out to be a very surreal night. When we got there, little girls were decked out in their nice dresses for a big night out. The magician, dressed victorian style, handed us a fortune after we entered. The boys waited eagerly for the magician to start. As we waited I began to feel a little uncomfortable, because every time I looked up, the magician was staring at me, which can never be good, because I knew that meant that he was going to pick me out of the audience for something terribly embarrassing. He wasn't the only one staring (maybe I shouldn't have worn the leopard hat). Being outsiders, we got a lot of looks as people tried to figure us out. After some  delay, the magician finally started the show by playing an old music box. He then explained that he was moving to Alberquerque in two weeks and all of his props were packed so we were going to play some Victorian parlor games, holding up a Victorian parlor game book to prove he knew what he was doing (as Isaac said, this was his appeal to authority).  We thought, ok, this should be interesting and educational. After having us arrange our chairs into a circle, he explained that we were going to play Poor Kitty, where one person would have to crawl around on his hands and knees and then look up at someone and meow pitifully. The receiver of the meow is then supposed to look down without a hint of a smile and say "poor kitty" three times. If they smile at all, they are the next kitty. I immediately thought this was a supremely bad idea, on so many different levels. Who in their right mind would ask a crowd of strangers, expecting a magic show, to play such a moronic, humiliating game? Down on all fours he dropped wandering around the circle until he reached, me the moron with the leopard hat (multi-purpose, to keep me warm and to cover up the hair that hadn't been washed in five days) and meows. It is a natural defect of my face that it smiles the majority of the time and this was no exception. I failed miserably and ended up, to my horror, in the middle of the circle. I may not be a very clean person, but I do have issues with putting my hands on the floor of public places, especially, soup kitchens. I stated that I did not want to put my hands on the floor while I tried my best first-ever, aikido knee walking. The magician then mocked me for being a clean freak. Had he not seen me and my clothes that I had been wearing for the last week and a half? Could he not smell me? Grrrrrrr! In desperation, I meowed at the first kid I set eyes on. He looked at me with a stony face and cold heart and said "poor kitty" three times without even a hint of a smile. They make 'em tough in Maine. You have got to be kidding me, I have to do this again? In a moment of sheer desperation and weakness I turned on my own smiling son, Isaac, and meowed. He couldn't stand the pressure and cracked a smile and with relief I climbed back into my chair as my son bravely took my place. What kind of mother am I that I would grab my own son and put him in front of the poor kitty bullet instead of just taking it myself? The game painfully continued, hitting its lowest point when a four-year-old boy broke down in tears while the "magician" looked on grim-faced and nodded as if to say, "sometimes children cry and it is good for their character." Any sane person would have called off the game at this point or gone in to help this poor tiny being who has only lived on this planet for four years, but no, not this "magician," to my horror, he just sat there waiting as this poor little boy cried. Completely unbelievable. At this point, (this is not something I say often) I wanted to punch him. After the game of humiliation ended everyone except for three little kids, who actually enjoyed the game, got up and left, as he pleaded for us to stay for the next game, keeping a good distance away. Upon discussion amongst ourselves later, we determined that he may be the WORST "magician" in the world. Ok, definitely the WORST magician we have ever seen. Maybe there are worse ones out there, but you would have to look HARD.

In a quest to find firewood in the rapidly-winding-down camping season, we stopped at a farm that had firewood advertised on the side of the road. As we drove down the driveway we saw scrap boards in a pile and I declared to Jason that I hoped that wasn't the "firewood" advertised. At the end of the driveway a long-haired, bearded guy came out waving so we rolled down the window and inquired about firewood. He pointed to the pile of wood we had driven past and said it was scrap wood from ash. The same wood that they make police billy clubs out of "so we could burn it with impunity." Sold. How can we resist a sell job like that? We spent the next fifteen minutes talking to him. He told us he was a "gleaner" and about how he raised what food he could and got expired food from around town to feed to his pigs, family, and passers-by like us. He also let us in a secret local beach sandwiched between two cliffs complete with a stream tricking in. He let us know that most people who come down his driveway for wood, take one look at him and turn tail for the highway as fast as they can. He was impressed with our courage and recommended we try one of his favorite activities which involved meditative floating in the near freezing Maine ocean. Unfortunately, our conversation was cut short when one of his pigs down the hill started screaming. We now fully understand the phrase "squealing like a stuck pig." 


  1. One more magical evening. Did Jason take any pictures of the show?

  2. Your stories are so fun to read. Thanks for sharing!