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Uncle Dunk's Theatre of the Absurd

Thursday, November 8, 2007

By cleverly preparing posts in advance, I have concealed a 4 1/2 day trip to New England from all but my closest correspondents. Writing this, I am sitting in Logan Airport, Boston, having traveled through central Massachusetts and New Hampshire, collecting pictures and sweet memories all the way. I love New England, even though I'm kind of over needing to live there. Visit there in the spring and fall, navigate New England's congested highways, sweat and murmur my way around her traffic rotaries, praying that I don't wreck my Dollar Rent-a-Car and get socked for all the collision charges, roll around in the incredible beauty all around me, see my beloved relatives and friends, and then go home to roomy old Appalachian Ohio, which I can actually afford. It works for me.There's Cindy House, left, Debby Kaspari, neatly blocking Mike Di Giorgio; Barry Van Dusen in white and Jim Coe in blue. Painters all.

Dunkin' Donuts is a New England institution. I don't usually drink coffee at all, after kicking a bad habit in 1996, but I cannot resist Uncle Dunk's with cream, no sugar. And let's not talk about Bavarian Creme doughnuts. Or, let's do. Spell it creme or cream or even kreme, you've got this: A powdered sugar-dusted lightly cakey bag of custard and joy. I allow myself maybe one a year. This was to be my day. Cindy House and I stopped at a gas station mini-Dunk's in New Hampshire, and they didn't have Bavarian Creme. We proceeded to a larger, free-standing Dunk's and parked, preparing to enter the store, fragrant with fresh coffee and doughnuts, only to find that it was only a drive-through. No door. Just a window with a person sticking out of it. We walked up to the window, and the attendant told us they didn't stock B.C.'s. Our idle wish in that moment became a Vision Quest. Where's the nearest REAL Dunkin' Donuts? She gave us directions, and we proceeded one exit up the highway, passing another bogus gas-station Dunk's on the way. This fourth store was the real deal. Trays of doughnuts, including my Bavarian and Boston Creme too, Cindy's favorite. She pointed out to me that it has fewer calories and less fat than Dunk's Raisin Bran Muffin, if that makes any sense at all. It doesn't make it health food, that's for sure. But oh... Delicious coffee. We ordered and started toward our table.

While standing in line, we noticed a Distinguished Silver man in line ahead of us. Executive, nay, CEO material. He was wearing a blue button-down Oxford shirt, clean pressed khakis, shiny loafers, and a navy blue V-necked sweater. A fancy insignia decorated the left breast of the sweater. Cindy touched my arm.

"Is that how you're supposed to wear V-necked sweaters these days?" she asked.

Distinguished Silver's V-neck was in back, the insignia decorating his left shoulder blade. The collar of the sweater in front was snugged tight against his jugular. Backerds!

"And me, without my $%^% - @#$#^&^* camera!" I hissed.

Cindy and I began to laugh, and we couldn't stop. This is the thing about running around with Cindy House. Her artist's eye never rests, and she notices the tiniest things. Which serves her incredibly well in her meticulously observed pastel landscape paintings, and would be fine, but she's also so tuned in to the absurd that we can barely make our way down the street without doubling over. It's a trip right back to high school.

We tied into our doughnuts over smothered laughter and inhaled powdered sugar (cough! cough!) And Cindy grabbed my arm again. D. S. had walked out of the store, clutching his takeout bag, and proceeded directly to an oxblood-colored Lexus. Oh, perfect. More gales of laughter and unrequited wishes for a pocket camera, for crying out loud. My word-picture will have to suffice.

We decided that we could probably have almost as much fun people watching in the Uncle Dunk's as going birding at Parker River NWR, but we decided to pack it in and head for the shore. While exchanging cell phone numbers in the Dunk's parking lot with Cindy, I glanced down and exercised my own powers of observation, noticing a small anomaly in this concrete island studded with junipers and decorated with a lit sign:

This must have been provided to enhance wildlife habitat. Juniperus procumbens, nice sandy fill, mounded up. Just the place for a Norway rat burrow, with multiple entrances. Isn't that special? Gee, I wonder what they live on?

I noted that the burrow mouth was about 3 1/2" across, a little bigger than most rat burrow entries. I feel your pain, Templeton. A few too many Bavarian cremes?
Urrp. Yeah, me, too.
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