Paul was once again duped by the promise the Merritt Parkway always breaks. It is one of the most beautiful highways in the nation, tree lined, and curvy enough for his 6 speed 228i. That is until it breaks its promise. WAZE said the drive to Milford was to be one hour and 13 minutes. Then exactly four times during the drive, WAZE dinged. The female British voice said there would be a 5-minute delay because “traffic was building up ahead.” What it should have said is, “Paul, you should have known that the “, fool on a hill” fuckers will brake as soon as they see a hill …,” or “Sorry Paul, your exit has a curve that scares the idiots.” Still, it’s better than the dreaded and seriously ugly, I-95
Milford’s old, but not architecturally curious houses don’t make him downshift. Finally, he hits a main drag while looking for a place he found online for a light lunch, but he can’t find it. Optimistically, he drives on figuring he can scope out this top 5 coastal Connecticut town. He eventually finds Broad street, a boulevard with a broad green median. “Not very creative.” There he finds a place called Scratch Bakery. “Odd name. Bedbugs? Ticks?”
Curious and hungry, Paul parks and enters. “Ok.” Inside there isn’t much seating but a long open kitchen with 4 busy worker bees.” A few people are waiting for their orders yet there are a few open tables inside and out. He steps up to the register to order a simple and quick BLT. “Hello?” The closest worker bee is so busy working she doesn’t notice him as she finishes a coffee order and brings it to a table.
Paul turns around, and notices a woman behind him, also waiting. He shrugs. The busy bee comes back to the register and just as he opens his mouth to order she makes eye contact with the woman behind him who gives her order. “What? “Paul thinks, then politely says while waving his hands magicianlike in front of his 6’4” frame, “Hi, Am I invisible?”
The woman behind him says, “Oh I’m sorry I thought you ordered, and were waiting.” The nice Paul replies, “That’s alright.” Inside the real Paul is saying, “What the fuck? How about a simple ‘Are you waiting’ BEFORE you order with me standing in directly front of you?” The worker hardly mumbled an apology. She knew he hadn’t ordered. Paul breathes deeply and simply orders his BLT.
The busy barista bee now tells him, “Oh that will take about 20 minutes.” Rather than pull the New Yorker schtick, Paul says, “Just give me a croissant and a large cappuccino with an extra shot.” To himself he mumbles, “Count to 10 slowly… Breath.”
Croissant in hand, he grabs a table and picks up his much-needed triple shot cappuccino. Disposable cup in hand, “What, no real cups?” he sits to relax and enjoy his “lunch”. He feels a tap on the shoulder and turns to see this grizzled oldster pointing to his sneaker that somehow slithered next to his uttering, “My sneakers are nicer.” Paul’s immediate retort to rid himself of this intrusion was, “Mine are bigger. I wear a size 13.” That didn’t work. “Shit, is this old dude trying to pick me up and measuring cock sizes by comparing foot size?” Paul changes the subject. “It’s harder to pack at my size, because everything is twice the length of everyone else’s.” Paul caught himself too late.
Luckily, the footster started jabbering away about learning to pack in the Navy. “Oh, Paul thought, “This old coot just wants to chat with someone. I hope that’s not me in fifteen years.” He cordially replied, “I know how to do that. Roll things, but the math and physics of it still says my clothes take up more room so I’ll get half as much as you in because you are half my size. Anyway, I have to run.”
The drive through town to the Air B&B to meet landlady, Susana, is even less impressive. Trip Advisor, Fake news flash. This cannot be one of top five cute CT towns. East Broadway turns out to be a typical beach town beach road but without Mc Mansions. It’s surely not the Hamptons. It’s more Jersey shore.
It turns out my host, Susana, is a hard to understand thickly accented Chinese woman. Paul’s mind wanders. “Is she the presurgical killer nurse from Columbia Presbyterian.” As she walks him around back and up the stairs to the private entrance, he still wasn’t sure. The room looks just like the pictures on Air B&B. Simple. Clean.
In their correspondence Paul told her he was a photographer. Paul asks, “What are good spots in town for photos? I didn’t see any driving in.” Weakly, she says, “None.” “Any parks?” “You may have to drive around.” “Any interesting old buildings?” “Nope.” “It isn’t a very pretty town.”
Yeah, too late now. She knew why Paul was coming. He had been at many Air B&Bs before with lots of brochures or a notebook full of options for food, drink, activities and highlights of the area. He figured she figured that people just came to her place for the beach. Still.
She left. He unpacked, put on his red Tommy Bahama trunks with the blue swordfish, and took her beach chair and umbrella across the street to the little beach. This is obviously the value of this place. Where are the WASPS? Paul felt like it was more Staten Island or Jersey than Connecticut. He expected more people wearing whales. Instead he saw more whales wearing bathing suits they should not be wearing.
Peaceful. Calm water. An island floats not far off shore. Sailboats cruise as power boats rip up the smooth surface of the water. A woman walks backwards across the darkened sand as the tide goes out. She is still walking backwards. “Hope she sees the jetty out of her rear-view eyes. Damn. She did.”
Paul tried to look suave as he put the umbrella in the sand. Of course, it wouldn’t go deep enough to stay firm even with no breeze. It was old. It didn’t have a screw in bottom like the new ones that drill a hole deep enough in the sand so they don’t get blown over. The one Paul brought had it …but was still in the trunk.
Paul felt eyes on him. He was new to these parts. He didn’t want to look like a beach newbie. He, had, after all spent a great deal of time on beaches, albeit without a dumbass umbrella. This “Tommy Bahama” would have worked except for the fact that the umbrella wouldn’t lock in place. It kept slipping into the 60˚ angle position. Rather than look even more idiotic, he decided to just soak up the sun. Down came the umbrella.
That’s when the under suited whale (manatee?) looked up at him and asked, “Do you need sun block?” Thoughts of manatee flippers spreading liberal amounts of creasy goo on his skin made him shudder, so he responded “Ha, ha. Thank you, I already put some on in my apartment.”
Hoping Ms. Manatee didn’t come talk to him, Paul settled in listening to his Apple Music. Deodato. Desposito. Then he noticed the Keb -Mo/Taj Mahal song. Laughing to himself, he realizes, that it is, “Please Don’t Leave Me Here.”An omen Next song? “Keep On Waiting For The World To Change.”Pleeease’, he thought. “How long do I have to wait?”
Note. Paul looked around and noticed that several houses were recently rebuilt or are being rebuilt on stilts. Sandy? Across the little Bay up on a cliff, are the real Big Ass Houses. “Bet the WASPS are there and the beaches are private.”
WASPs at 4 o’clock …. time and direction. Paul spotted an 80 something couple setting up their chairs and umbrella as the sun gets lower and less intense. He’s wearing black shorts and a white tee with matching black suspenders stretched over his expanded gut. Paul chuckles to himself. “Oh shit, there’s a dog squatting in the water.” The sign entering the beach said “NO ANIMALS!”
“I can’t find where I put that $200”, a woman shouts as she walks to her friend. So nonplussed. Paul thinks, “I’d be shouting, Shit. What happened to my 200?” She doesn’t seem to care as she sits and lights up a smoke. An ambulance slowly cruises by behind us.
“Medication” by Steven and Damian Marley. Ganja music. Paul wishes he had. That floating 12-foot-long and 10-foot-high pink flamingo anchored at the edge of the water would be even more far out than it is. Uh, oh! The surgical killer nurse and 3 other older Chinese women are walking to the water with a cooler, pails, and shovels. “Are they digging for dinner or recovering a corpse?”
Paul packed his stuff and went back upstairs to shower, change, and go to dinner after sunset. There is, a block or so away from the Air B&B, a beautiful boardwalk, through dunes, tall grasses, and long willowy reeds. Paul took his gear and took about a dozen pictures, hoping for the best when he gets to his computer after dinner. “Time to go. Better not to be alone. He doesn’t know where killer landlady is hiding.
Paul chose to have dinner at a place called SBC. It looked good on “The Google”. The place was too full so he at sat at the bar to watch the Giants – Jets game. To his right sat an annoying high pitch voiced millennial who could not get over the nails of one of the bartenders. Paul’s barkeep took his order and calls him Bud. Paul hates “Bud” … and the beer of the same name.
Paul ordered a pulled pork quesadilla, with crispy sweet potato fries and 2 Sam Adams’s… one at a time. The Giants are doing well. Paul is a big fan. Then another shoulder tap. “Is that old guy here and checking sizes again?” Nope. A scrawny, bearded, tattooed, short of a full set of teeth 20 something wearing, of all things, an Eagles jersey asks Paul if he can move over, so he can squeeze in another chair for his companion. Of course, he added insult to injury by calling Paul Sir. Paul slides over and gets back to his food, drink, and the Giants game.
It turns out Paul got lucky. When Paul asked for the check, his barkeep told him he got the last pulled pork quesadilla. Paul told him thanks and when he asked if Paul wanted dessert, Paul said “I am both done and full.” while thinking, “These other people will never say that.” Paul had already taken out his cell phone and snuck a “portrait” of a tattooed, food slurping manatee.
Tattoos and beards to the left of him. Tattoos and beards to the right of him. And that’s just the women. “Is this really Connecticut?”“Wonder what would happen if I yelled Trump sucks?”
As Paul gazes around the “barstaurant” the crowds have disappeared and it’s only 8:45. But never fail. More tattooed beards just walked in. Paul would soon be taking up valuable bar space. He decides not to give up his stool until halftime.