Uncle Bob on a Surfboard

Lately, Mondays have been “travel days” here on the blog; I write about the places my “Lady Alone Traveler” journeys take me over the weekend.  Last weekend, I took a road trip with my brother and he wrote about it on his blog.  Technically, I wasn’t the Lady Alone Traveler so I didn’t blog about it myself.  We had a good time, though, and maybe being a ‘lady alone” is overrated.

This weekend, I stayed close to home and early Sunday morning I decided to take a long walk.  I headed north on Route 9 (Ridge Road) with a vague notion of several possible destinations.  After near a mile, I crossed over onto the Bowdoinham Road.

What was this?

Pink Plastic SlipperA plastic doll slipper?

It was strange and creepy and thinking it might be a bad omen, I turned around, crossed Ridge Road again, and headed down the King Road.  Not that the King Road is without problems.  I saw a woman letting a bunch of barking Chihuahuas out of a dog pen, but it wasn’t as creepy as the plastic doll slipper, so I kept walking.  If the Chihuahuas had been wearing pink plastic slippers, I would have run back to my house, but that wasn’t the case.

Once past the barking dogs, the King Road is a pleasant promenade with gently sloping hills.  It didn’t seem like a long walk at all and pretty soon I was at the intersection of the Littlefield Road.  I took a left and followed the Sabattus River until I came out onto Route 196, or Lisbon Road.

My unspoken destination was Benoit’s Bakery and it was in sight.

I'd walk 3.5 miles for a donutRationalizing with myself, I decided I could have a donut if I walked to get it.  Although I was temporarily stymied by the slipper and the Chihuahuas, getting that donut was the best decision I made all day.  Wouldn’t it be great if figuring out everything in life was that easy?  “Sure…I’ll have the biggest cream-filled donut in the case, please.  Counting calories? Hell, no, Nick, I just walked three and a half miles for that donut.”

There’s only one table at Benoit’s, it being more of a “take out” place than a “sit for a spell” place.  Sitting at the table on this particular Sunday were a local couple, Frank and Pam.  Maybe people in town call them as Pam and Frank. I’m not sure.  They were several years ahead of me in high school so I didn’t know them well.  I knew they were in the “house restoration and improvement” business and they had owned the bowling alley at one time, too.  I asked if I could sit down and join them and then explained who I was, mentioning the proper relatives to make my identity clear.  I find that saying “I’m Bobby’s niece” generally opens more doors than “I’m Herman’s daughter” because everyone knows Uncle Bob.  Don’t tell Herman, the Winter Carnival King of 1951, though.  He still thinks he’s popular.

Pam and Frank and I had a good chat, talking about real estate, the local business scene, and the state of the world.  We didn’t save the world; we didn’t even try.  It was a chance meeting, but because we had some shared history, it was easy to be neighborly and friendly.  I thought back to all the times I had gotten coffee at the surfer dude coffee shop next to my condo in Hampton in the fifteen years I lived there and how little I knew about most of the regulars.  Was it me or was it because Uncle Bob wasn’t a local Hampton surfer dude from way back?  I can’t even imagine Uncle Bob on a surfboard, although I saw him in shorts once last summer.

Sure, life in a small town isn’t all coffee and donuts, but knowing a few of my neighbors is one of the reasons I moved home in the first place.  Who wants to be alone all the time?

And if pink plastic doll slippers, Chihuahuas, and Uncle Bob on a surfboard don’t come up, well, I know it’s going to be a pretty good day.

This entry was posted in Home, Just Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Uncle Bob on a Surfboard

  1. jbomb62 says:

    You bring up a good question about “belonging” when you ask if Uncle Bob was a surfer dude from way back, would you have been welcomed?

    So many times over the years, some connection to Lisbon Falls, or even a former player I once pitched against who remembered me, or we got talking about the “glory days” and eventually, the topic of baseball and the Lisbon Greyhounds would come up. It served as an icebreaker.

    When we lived in Indiana, we didn’t have any of that and it was isolating. Our 4+ years there were lonely.

    I think you can put down roots in a place other than your place of origin, but I think it’s harder. Some of it might be cultural, too. I’ve read Berman talking about how welcoming the people in Mexico are to outsiders. Joe Bageant mentioned something similar after he moved to Costa Rica (?).

    • I agree that it’s possible to “transplant” ourselves and “put down roots” in other places. It takes hard work and a real interest in being “part” of a local area. For many people, living in a “bedroom” community works for them because they don’t want to engage with their neighbors. Unfortunately, lack of engagement often leads to “professionals” taking over. You can only abdicate responsibility for so long before it’s too late.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Jim.

  2. bfayeray@aol.com says:

    finally catching up on mail from nearly 2 months!! But Bob in shorts was a shocker!!

Comments are closed.