blame a shapeless externality? Fate/The Fates? The Bastards (non carborundum)? an unfortunate convergence of Boredom, Weather, Biography and Fear? or, less intangible (but only slightly more definite in shape), “The Island”?
it’s difficult going home/Coming Home, when you’re discomfitingly aware that you’re going to be looking forward to going “back home” (where you live the rest of the time) in a week, and you’re fairly certain that you only really have one Home at a time and in that case you’d probably prefer the one that occasions not so much dread. Prince Edward Island is not a very exciting place (do note the tourism website’s Featured Story, Island Seasons: “Islanders enjoy four very distinct seasons…”), a grim reality of which S (a fellow islander) and i were quite aware when we lived there, and about which we had no illusions when we decided to go back and see our parents and respective family pets.
you find yourself drinking more, watching more television you’d normally avoid, wearing sunglasses at odd hours, vaguely scheming to sleep with people you would, frankly, normally avoid, and, evidently, going to East Side Marios.
it was approximately 10am, and we were one warm-Stella-for-breakfast each into what could have turned out to be a Good Day; not entirely sure where we had parked the (S’s dad’s) car the previous night, nor what it was i had done to S’s face (“What did you do to my face?! I have to see my grandmother today.”), but it all seemed immaterial to me. less so was the matter of breakfast.
in retrospect i should perhaps find it strange that there was no discussion of the fitness of East Side Mario’s for such a purpose, but in our defence there was hot sun beating mercilessly down upon us, and the promise of inexhaustible Free Bread With Your Meal within (i don’t know that this was advertised, but it certainly seemed to be something we knew).
this bread, might i say, was fantastic.
really hit the spot. little pat of butter and everything. comes to your table on a little cutting board all warm and already impaled on a (steak?) knife. i can’t recommend this sort of thing enough for a hangover, and at this point do not hesitate to say that we were soaring (by this point, i mean, having ordered and already on our 3rd loaf of Free Bread), just on top of the world, our dim little world (the sunglasses again, remember). willing to forgive our simply horrendous daiquiris, so full of magnanimity and benevolence and peace and bread and daiquiris.
unfortunately things took a bit of a turn.
i won’t bore you with (nor am i in possession of) the details of our meal (why would i do that?). i had a caesar salad (of which i assume i payed an extra 1-2.50$ for the privilege), and the asparagus linguini alfredo. this is not something that exists, but it seems there was some leeway regarding pasta substitutions, and i added the asparagus for what i assume was another dollar or two. the people at East Side Mario’s are nothing if not accommodating, you see.
then, fuck it, maybe another (awful) daiquiri and definitely a still worse bellini, which S was under the (not mistaken, under ideal circumstances) impression was something like a champagne daiquiri, but apparently in the terrifying bizarroitaloamericanoworld that is ESM contains some manner of hard liquor and maybe poison? some kind of poison? and some sort of laboratory-hatched hypersaccharine syrup that immediately causes brain damage and conveniently fuses the Positive-Mental-Attitude-Morning-Drunk (Edge Taken Off, Pleasantly Squared Away, etc.) with its shadow realm nemesis The Fear. it was regrettable and i do not recommend it.
S had, among other things i cannot recall, a message from the kitchen consisting solely of “HELLO FROM THE RED DRAGON,” delivered not even by our own waitress/er?, but by some other waitfellow, so accommodating are these people. our first thought, naturally was “Our disguises!“
here it may be necessary to explain that, external to any considerations of impeccable style, the accursed sun, or Coping With Life, our shiny shoes, (previously) clean dress shirts and inconspicuous black ray-bans were also intended to serve as an impenetrable blind so that no unsavoury characters out of our pasts, however peripheral, might recognize and apprehend us, forcing us to embark down an irreversible path of elaborate misrepresentation and outright fabulation regarding our Success At Life Thus Far (have i mentioned that this summer was our 10 yr high school reunion and we weren’t even invited, assuming that there was something to be invited to?). you can imagine how well this worked, i’m sure.
anyway, at the time we were both dumb- and con- founded that someone had managed to see through our cunning dissemblance and recognize us from so far away as the interior of the kitchen no less! what could this fortell?
anyway, things are pretty hazy and characterized by a lot of groaning and gnashing of teeth and maligning whatever forces external to us had brought such gastro- and psycho- logical misfortune down upon us, and the whole thing sort of resolved itself by us deciding to sleep the rest of the afternoon away in the car, counting on our natty dress, fine automobile, and the inability of others to smell us to protect us from molestation by the authorities (“Clearly, we are but two unspecifically successful and well-adjusted business types taking but a power nap after lunch before returning to whatever loosely-scheduled and cutting edge industry it is that employs us!”).
in closing, i say go to East Side Mario’s, probably. i mean, if you’re going to go, you’re going to go – it’s got the Statue of Liberty holding aloft a tomato, for god’s sake, and if that doesn’t tell you what you’re getting into, then god help you. the food was passable, unterrible – all things considered – the drinks were not, and i probably spent something like 30$ in the end. i think the pasta might have even been okay. but they didn’t make us take off our sunglasses, and there was a pleasing surfeit of candles in those nice wicker-wrapped bulbous wine bottles one sees in places and associates with Italy.
anyway, i blame the island. and the cursed sea that cradles it.
PS/NB: if my parents are reading this, i mean of course “Home” as in “The Island,” not their physical architectural home, nor the figurative or spiritual home constituted by their embrace/presence/etc….