For two weeks, prior to just about now, I was on vacation.
Of course, being me, I was not content to sit still for two weeks, so I embarked upon the Eastern Seaboard Tour, 2011. Originating in New York, stops included Boothbay Harbor (and environs), Maine; New York; Bethany Beach, Delaware; New York; Rehoboth Beach, Delaware; Philadelphia; New York. As such, the route, if traced, would very much resemble a worrisome EKG.
What I discovered, along the way, were The Joys of East Coast Living, most of which, it turns out, consist of eating delicious insect-shaped sea creatures.
Part One: Maine
One thing you need to know about Maine is that the Maine Marketing Committee has never been able to settle on just one slogan. I myself witnessed no fewer than four:
1. Maine: Vacationland 2. Maine: The Way Life Should Be 3. Maine: Worth a visit. Worth a lifetime. 4. Maine: The Pine Tree State
With all due respect to Maine, WHICH THE FUCK IS IT?! And more important:* HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO IDENTIFY PERSONALLY WITH YOUR BRAND IF YOU DON’T PROMOTE CONSISTENCY THROUGHOUT ALL YOUR MARKETING MATERIALS?!
Maine’s response, I imagine, would be two-fold: “Number one,” Maine would say, with an air of reserve, “You are supposed to identify with our brand by leaving your stuck-up city and self-important job, stopping thinking about pretentiously pointless things like ‘brand consistency,’ and enjoying the goddamned pine trees.” Now Maine is riled up, so it adds, “And if by ‘all your marketing materials’ you mean three billboards and a refrigerator magnet, then maybe you should just go the fuck back to New York and remember that we never asked your opinion.”
Fine, Maine. Fine. But just as a last little suggestion, if you’re ever into continuity, you could always try, “Maine: One slogan just isn’t enough.”
Anyway, Maine’s right: The point isn’t the taglines, or even the pine trees. The point is the lobster. Now, I had never really learned to eat lobster before, hailing, as I do, from a landlocked city where the temperature ranges from 105-135 degrees. Lobster don’t fare well in Austin. But luckily, various members of my family were on hand to show me the ropes.
It should be noted that my family are savages, and therefore tear into the lobster in a flurry of teeth, tools, and hands, devouring all of the meat therein and insisting that the guts are the best part. Sitting back amidst a pile of discarded lobster shell parts, I had to agree that yes, the guts are the best part, and yes, when consuming sea monsters, savagery is really the only fitting appraoch.
Part II: Delaware
If you’re like me, you’d never really heard of Delaware before last month, with the exception of (a) that alphabetical-order state song, and (b) that one scene in Wayne’s World.
Come to find out, Delaware (state slogan: The First State) is located south of Pennsylvania, is about two hours from top to bottom, and was the first state to ratify the constitution, though, as Anna scoffs: “Yeah. Like that wasn’t gonna happen ANYWAY.”
The geography of Delaware goes something like this: Wilmington Train Station, nothing, nothing, nothing, Giant NASCAR Race Track, nothing, nothing, nothing, Beaches. The beaches are where I spent the bulk of last week, enjoying the discovery of such culinary masterpieces as Thrasher’s French Fries, Tastykakes Butterscotch Crumpets, and crabs.
Crabs, like lobsters, are insect-shaped sea creatures that look much more appetizing once they’ve been boiled. Unlike lobsters, I was able to catch them myself**, thus triggering very self-satisfying hunter/gatherer feelings.
The way to catch a crap is to tie a raw chicken leg to a piece of string, which you hang over your boat. Periodically, and with great care, you pull the string up to see if some unsuspecting crab has latched on. Pulling too quickly will alert the crab to your devious schemes, and pulling it all the way out of the water will cause all but the stupidest crabs to completely let go, in a scene not unlike the opening bit of Cliffhanger.
If you have nabbed a crab, a second crabber comes along with a net, scooping underneath the crab to capture it for good. And while I originally suggested alternate forms of bait (Teenage crabs! Butterscotch Krimpets!) it turns out Lindsay was right: Chicken works. We caught about 20 crabs that day, and that wasn’t including all the li’l ones we threw back.
I was delighted to learn (and now report) that I have a crabbing gift. I was able to tell, from one firm but gentle pull on the string, whether a crab was attached to the chicken, and often whether the crab was large enough or not. It is for this reason that I proudly dubbed myself a Crab Whisperer, and bragged to all aboard that I “spoke the language of the crabs.”
All aboard rolled their eyes, and internally assigned the majority of our success to the chicken. They also pointed out that while my string-pulling abilities might be, at best, average, my netting abilities are decidedly under par: The most I succeeded in doing, as a netter, was hitting Lindsay in the head with the pole and letting the crabs get away. And like all Those Who Got Away, the crabs who escaped were larger, more beautiful, more perfect than the crabs we actually snagged.
Part III: Back to work.
Yeah, I should probably wrap this up and go finish something. Blog posts, like vacations, must eventually end.
Sometimes really abruptly.
*Thank you, Dave Stemler, for the lesson in grammar. Everyone loves it when friends correct their grammar.