Monday, September 26, 2016

From Maine to California

With many of the tourists finally cleared out, things have been pretty quiet in our little town of Freeport. Actually things are always quiet here, as they are in the entire state of Maine, which is why I stay put despite the depressing lack of even one Jewish deli. (Just forget about sinking your teeth into a real bagel, and don't even think about lox or pastrami.) On the plus side we've had no shootings, no riots and not even one exploding dumpster. And of course there's all that lobster. It's quite nice, even though things can get boring until the snows come, which should be any day now.

My big excitement last week was driving twelve miles to Brunswick for a haircut, my first solo outing after hip surgery last month. It sounds silly but it was a pretty big deal to me, having spent the last seven weeks all but housebound watching Grey's Anatomy on Netflix and taking walks around the neighborhood. Two hours with Denise was just what I needed. Besides styling and coloring my hair exactly how I like it, she radiates an unruffled calm like few people I have ever known. As she snipped away my dead ends, she told me about her recent trip with her husband to Los Angeles.

It started out with appallingly long lines at the airport car rental office, insufferable for a couple of Mainers accustomed to no lines anywhere, for anything, except maybe an ice cream cone in mid-August at the Classic Custard out on Route 1. After waiting two hours on two different lines they finally got a car, not the one they had reserved but the only one available. They piled their luggage in and took off, immediately encountering that famous LA freeway traffic. Once again they were stunned, wondering if some sort of calamity had occurred. But no, it was just a normal Thursday evening.

Wrapping bits of tin foil into my hair for blond highlights, Denise went on to describe their day in Venice Beach as "disappointing." There were only three guys working out in front of the storied Muscle Beach gym and none of them were even remotely built. As for those zany tattooed roller skaters she had seen pictured in National Geographic and in every single travel magazine, there were none in evidence. Mostly what was in evidence were piles of trash along the boardwalk and homeless people slumped in doorways. And trinket shops.

Not going in for all the Hollywood hype they avoided Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive. (Having been to those places myself years ago I assured her that was a smart decision.) Instead they spent a day at Knott's Berry Farm, an amusement park in Buena Vista with rides, shows and a variety of other wholesome attractions. Denise reported all of this in her usual even tone, assuring me as she led me over to the shampoo sink that California was fun but four days were quite enough. I'm thinking she won't be going back anytime soon.

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