Tomorrow is my mother’s birthday and to celebrate we drove to Maine today.
Maine has always been my family’s go to day trip. Eat a little seafood, walk a little beach. Even in cold weather, we’ll drive over to look at the Nubble Lighthouse all lit up for the holidays and do a little shopping at the outlet stores in Kittery.
The beach in the winter is still better than no beach at all.
So today wasn’t unusual, but it was fun all the same.
Once we arrive in Maine, our first stop is always a rest room. Today’s visit was courtesy of really tasty ice coffees from McDonalds that only cost a dollar each.
The Kittery outlet stores have these strange bathrooms that are tucked into the back corners of the malls. They have keypads on the outside doors, lending them an air of a jail, but they are unlocked during the day so customers can use them.
Today the fluorescent light in the restroom was flickering, that really fast flicker of a light bulb about to expire.
At first I was afraid it would make me have some sort of seizure, but once I realized that wasn’t going to happen, I felt like I was in a movie.
A really bad horror movie where the girl is using the restroom and some sort of crazed serial killer comes over the stall wall to mutilate her
Or an arty film, where people don’t talk very much and the flickering light symbolizes how short life is and how we’re all just bulbs about to die out.
I have a habit of turning ordinary things, like a bad light bulb, into scenes from movies.
My friend Nan and I once went to upstate New York to attend a wedding. We had reserved a room at some random hotel not far from the festivities.
When we pulled in, it was one of those long motels where you parked right outside the room, the kind that a fugitive would use to hide out.
I’m remembering an empty swimming pool and a sign that flashed MOTEL in red, but I could be making that part up.
We checked in and went to our room.
It was pretty dismal. And there wasn’t a phone, which in the pre-cell phone days, seemed a little scary.
Rather quickly we decided that we would drive back to Nan’s place in Vermont instead of spending the night.
But we didn’t simply go to the desk and tell them that we had changed our minds.
We went into the bathroom, tried to make it look like we had dyed our hair in the sink and went out through the window.
Before you feel bad for the maid, we paid for the room and left a tip.
It was wildly funny at the time and still makes me chuckle.
After the restroom stop, Mom and I headed to Crate and Barrel before going to lunch and the beach.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I like Crate and Barrel. I know it’s mass produced and overpriced, but I like things like little bowls and cool glasses. And it is an outlet, so it’s a little cheaper.
The store was busy today, mostly full of young couples with too much money and not enough brains.
Sorry if that sounds harsh, but you should have overheard the conversations. One line in particular stood out to me.
A young woman was looking at a wall full of tablecloths. The man with her was obviously bored and he was whining a bit.
The woman turned to him and said, “I want to look at these because it would be nice to have a tablecloth on the barge.”
The barge? Who the hell has a barge and why does it need a tablecloth?
The way she said it implied it was some sort of boat on which they entertained. A party barge, I guess.
See, I told you. Barbie and Ken obviously have too much money and too few brains if they bought a barge, with or without a tablecloth.
After a delicious, if unhealthy, lunch of fried seafood we headed up the coast to York Beach.
The wind was too cold to be out for long, but there were several families set up on blankets and dressed in sweatshirts.
One family was situated right in front of our car, where my mother and I sat out of the wind for a while to watch the waves and seagulls.
There was a woman, a man, a girl around five and what I think were twins who looked about two.
The older girl and the man were attempting to fly a ladybug kite. After a long time spent untangling the string from the tail, they got it up about six feet off the ground. They gave up when they couldn’t seem to get it truly flying.
Another habit I’ve acquired over the years is to imagine lives for people I see but don’t know.
For instance, I assumed this family was a mother, father and their three kids.
But maybe that wasn’t the case.
Maybe they were his kids, but their mother was killed in a surfing accident and the woman was the nanny, who was secretly in love with the man but knew it was too soon to say anything.
Or maybe the older girl was his and he had kidnapped her away from his ex-wife. And the twins belonged to the woman, whose husband had just run away with a woman he met on the internet.
Maybe they had been dating for a few weeks but this was the first time they had gotten the children together.
Or maybe they were just a happy family and I have an overactive imagination, as I proved in the outlet mall restroom.
One thing I can say about me. A simple trip to the beach is much more interesting in my head than it is in real life.