Down East 2013 ©
Well, Fourth of July is behind us and summer is in full swing here in Mahoosuc Mills: picnics, yard sales, tourists, BBQ’s, watermelon, iced tea, tourists, boat rides, s’mores, and did I mention the tourists? Gotta love ‘em!
Look, for the most part, folks from away are nice enough. But let’s face it, vacation can be taxing, what with all that time spent in a closed vehicle with your loved ones. Sleeping in strange beds in hotels, your tent, your camper. Throw in the mosquitoes, a couple days of rain, and funky food combinations, and you come to realize that when it comes to love, distance really does make the heart grow fonder!
Now as you can imagine, we have quite a few “cottage industries” centered around the tourist trade here in Mahoosuc Mills. Everyone is tryin’ to dream up that one good thing folks from away will buy.
You’ve seen ‘em, I’m sure: lobster trap coffee tables, chainsaw sculptures, whirligigs and what-not. If you’re looking for more higher-end stuff, our Mainely Maine store is the place. They carry a nice assortment of handmade quilts, brand rugs, balsam pillows, and pine-cone-shaped stuff out the wazoo.
But come June, we host our annual Black Fly Festival, and a lot of us locals set up booths and tables on Main Street, trying to sell stuff to the tourists. Don’t matter if we have any talent or not. (And to be perfectly honest with you, a lot of us just don’t!) Doesn’t matter. It’s fun to see what folks from away will buy.
In fact, during the festival, we have an informal contest here in Mahoosuc Mills to see which one of us can come up with the most popular, well, “you-know-what on a stick.” What is that, you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s some hokey-looking a gee-gaw that you buy at a craft fair or festival, something that’s too big to fit in a bag, so the buyer has to carry it around, proclaiming to all the world that they actually spent money for this thing.
Now true “you-know-what on a stick” is not lugged around the festival by a woman. No, she needs to be unencumbered, to check out the beaded jewelry, hand-painted cards and what not. If you’re uncertain about whether or not you’re witnessing a “you-know-what on a stick” moment, here’s a tip. Just look for a wife who’s flitting from booth to booth, sampling fudge and chattering away to her husband, who’s shuffling along, five paces behind her, trying to not poke someone’s eye out with a giant black fly made out of recycled beer cans, for instance. (Jody and Frank Phelps come up with those last year: classic “you-know-what on a stick.”) The wife is in her element, having the time of her life, and the husband’s hanging in there, hoping that maybe she’ll appreciate his effort and he’ll get lucky that evening. Or at the very least, she’ll let him have that sausage and pepper sub and maybe even some fried dough, which are usually off limits on account of his high blood pressure.
This year’s winner, hands down, was Connie LaBlanc with her scarecrow clown lawn ornaments. Holy “you-know-what on a stick,” Batman! We’re talking a “Bride of Chucky” flashback here, folks. Them clowns of hers were positively demonic! Like they’re going to come to life during the night and eat your young. The darned things stood about four feet high, plus there’s the part that to goes in the ground. Connie must have sold a hundred of ‘em at twenty bucks a pop! Picture it: a hundred scary clowns, bobbing through the crowd. It’s a sight that would have done Stephen King proud!
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!
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