across southern Vermont
Sunday, July 13 2003
setting: Southern Vermont
I'd drunk a lot of alcohol last night but, owing to the effects of Adderall, had never really become drunk. This morning was payback time, and I had a hangover, though not an especially bad one. Waking up in John's gloomy institutional apartment certainly didn't help.
What helped was breakfast at a diner in town. The place was overcrowded so we had to sit at the counter, where John could exchange witty banter with the staff and we could have a good view of the massive piles of bacon that the cooks kept preparing and then depleting. I had the delicious hangover-curing turkey club sandwich and even it contained bacon. John ordered his vegetarian sausage with a side of real bacon, because that's how good the bacon is there. All of us sweetened our coffee with maple syrup, which transformed it into a completely unique beverage. At one point one of the staff dumped the remains of a pot of decaf into the caffeinated pot, and John was scandalized. "Oh, it doesn't matter," the woman insisted. "Decaf is better for people anyway."
John told me that this diner is owned and operated by a lesbian couple, and that they even fly a rainbow flag out in front. That last part turned out to be a bit of a stretch; true, the flag out front had most of the colors of the rainbow, but it also depicted a folksy-looking cabin - though perhaps it was a log cabin. The flag was actually one of those garish seasonal flags people used to fly back before 9-11. Perhaps in certain places such flags serve as "crypto-homo flags," but in gay-marriage-permitting Vermont, such precaution hardly seems warranted.
John and I spent much of the afternoon down in the basement media room of his dorm building trying to get his WiFi-enabled Palm device to connect to the wireless access point buried in the ceiling. It turned out the problem was some sort of clerical error in the entering of the device's MAC address in a campus-wide white-list, a problem that couldn't possibly be fixed on a Sunday. All was not a waste; I managed to get John up to speed on both Mozilla and Kazaalite, two of my most important applications. As we worked on these things, we could see through the windowed walls of our media room to a little teevee lounge outside. One of the students, a special-needs case if I ever saw one, sat two feet away from a large television, ceaselessly watching cartoons.
Eventually John and I rendezvoused with Julie at her place in Brattleboro. We sat out on the second-floor porch drinking microbrews and repotting basil plants bought at the farmer's market yesterday. Actually, I wasn't doing any of the repotting. I had a newly-purchased road map in my lap and I was planning my route back to the Catskills. Before long John and Julie's gardening effort had dissolved into bickering over differences in horticultural philosophy.
To get home, I took Vermont Route 9 across the narrow south end of the state. It would have been a good way to go had the route not been under such heavy reconstruction. Along the Deerfield River, mile-long segments of it had been torn apart and left with a bumpy gravel surface. I could cruise along on this at a fairly good clip, but the moment I got stuck behind other (more cautious) drivers, my progress slowed to a miserable crawl. Other parts of the route were so steep that my truck had trouble keeping up with the traffic.
Just inside New York State there was a billboard saying "SUPPORT OUR TROOPS" in huge red, white and blue letters. It occurred to me that someone needs to make an addition to this message pointing out how leaving our troops to be picked off by snipers does not constitute support.
While I was in Vermont, Gretchen had been entertaining two couples from Brooklyn: Ray and Nancy, and Debra and Bill. When I arrived this evening, all the guests had gone except Ray. Since moving upstate, Gretchen had been missing the good old days when she used to hang out one-on-one with just Ray, so they finally got a chance to do that this afternoon. For dinner the three of us ate out at the Hurley Mountain Inn. Following Ray's example, I ordered a Labatt Bleue (which, as you might recall, I'd had no success obtaining in the snooty bars Gretchen and I had patronized in Montreal).
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