A Weekend on the Thumb

June 11, 2012 Comments Off on A Weekend on the Thumb

This past weekend I practically invited myself to Door County, where my old roommate Brittany lives. I left on Friday after work and made reasonable time, although a series of missed turns meant I took US 151 much farther than had been advised. But it turned out to be a beautiful drive, along the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago, where I could watch the hot pink sun setting over lush farmland and brilliant water while Time for Three’s “Ashokan Farewell” played in the car. It was that wonderful golden streaming light, with lavender puff-clouds, and it was perfect. I was sad when the road turned away, although the music segued seamlessly into “Amazing Grace” and the landscape became hushed and twilit around me. It was a glorious drive.

At least until I hit Green Bay. No one told me that flying tar boogers were a hazard on that route. The storm clouds in the distance led me to believe that the smattering sounds on my windshield were raindrops. But the glass gradually became opaque with some tarry substance that the windshield wipers (even with copious sprays of fluid) were perfectly useless to remove. I could barely see the road and there were no visible gas stations for many miles. Finally I found a BP and scrubbed the windshield hard, and after that the driving was better. It must have been bugs: the whole front of the car was black with corpses, but I have never ever driven through quantities like that, that eventually obscured my view. After that my subsequent driving back and forth through Egg Harbor looking for a road that (as it turned out) was several miles back out of town the way I had come frustrated me. I was way done with driving.

But eventually I made it to Brittany’s apartment, where I met her boyfriend Colin. They live above a potter’s gallery, in a giant open space with a closed-off bedroom at one end. Brittany explained how the potter who had lived there was obliged to move away because it was too small for his significant other and her daughter, and it was a wonderful apartment because it had been furnished by an adult who had the money to equip it the way he wanted. Hardwood floors, gas stove, giant bathtub with jets, stone tiles in the bathroom, warm taupe walls with exposed beams…it was a beautiful, beautiful place, and Brittany and Colin have put cool stuff into it, notably some good art pieces and a big fish tank. Also a large flat-screen TV, on which Colin introduced me to the show How It’s Made, which, much to Brittany’s disgust, I find as fascinating as he does.

The next morning they made me breakfast and we went out on one of Colin’s friends’ boat. It was a BIG boat, one of those long powerboats with a flying bridge (see! I know my nautical terminology) and a whole belowdecks living space. It was a blindingly hot, sunny day, perfect for having nothing but a bathing suit on. Except I hadn’t brought a bathing suit. I had never been to Door County and didn’t know what kinds of recreational activities there were. (Far be it from me to google something practical.) Brittany had mentioned some cool hiking, so I had brought jeans and hiking boots. No bathing suit. Brittany lent me her backup bikini, which was very cute, but Brittany is quite a different shape from me. As she put it to a friend the next day, I have “many more boobs” than she does, and apparently my hips are shaped differently, because the bottom kept slipping down as if it had no elastic in it, and the top consisted of a couple comically thin pieces of fabric connected by a string, which was hardly sufficient support and definitely could not be worn without a tank top over it. When I put it on I laughed, the way you laugh when you try on something in a store and it’s way too small and you think, “No way.” But I had no choice but to wear it and hope I could mostly keep the tank top and skirt on.

Brittany and I went and lounged on the bow seats while the boys got the boat ready and then waited and waited for another friend. Eventually we got under way with three guys plus Colin, two of whom were pretty nice for a couple of bros and one of whom was the kind of jerk you don’t ever expect to see in real life. We anchored near shore several miles away from where we started, in water only a few feet deep. They had brought a grill on a stand, so that they could stand in the water and grill salmon steaks and black bean burgers, which were really good. It was awesome while Brittany was there (and the water was perfect), but she had to work at 5 and waded ashore at 4:30 to where we had stashed one of the cars. After that it was me and the guys, who set up a volleyball net and listened to reggae and played volleyball and drank and smoked pot for hours. It was a pretty long day. I couldn’t play (even if I’d wanted to) because of my precarious swimsuit, and after a few hours I got sun-sick and had to go sit in the shade. It was a beautiful day, and it was wonderful to be out, I just would have liked not to have been at the mercy of these overgrown middle-schoolers. They were never anything but very polite and friendly to me (even the jerk), but the way they talked about women (“So is Elena coming out with us?” “I think so! This party’s about to get BYOB – bring your own bitch!”) and the way they talked in general (“Hey, what does my phone say?” “That you’re a nigger!”) made them not the best company. Colin knew them from high school and was nothing like them, but I’d never actually met people like that: rich ex-frat boys with nothing to do (so far as I could tell) but drink (and compare drinking stories); discuss boats, cars, and motorcycles; and pursue women (all women…even if you have a girlfriend). But it went okay. We all very quickly realized that I had nothing in common with any of them, so I sat on the boat in the sun and occasionally jumped in the water to cool off, and they played their volleyball and drank a prodigious amount of beer, and the more we avoided each other’s company generally the happier everyone was.

After only one quick stop at a bar for “painkillers”—which appear to be pina coladas on the rocks—and some schmoozing on the dock with a few other guys who were just like them and a few women who mostly justified their treatment of women, they dropped Colin and me back off at the dock where we’d started so we could go to the restaurant where Brittany worked for dinner. It was decent, although I was dehydrated and sunburned and generally not in my plate from something like eight or nine hours on the water and couldn’t eat much although I was starving. We went home before Brittany got off and watched some How It’s Made, but we were too tired to stay up much. Then I went to bed and was too tired to sleep, plus their apartment talked and I eventually (because it was 2:30am) got to worrying about psychopaths who might be out in the country in the wee hours of the morning—what would I do if one got in? I read myself to sleep with the lights on and then woke up again at quarter to five. Bad night.

But in the morning, Brittany and Colin took me to a nearby town for a truly amazing breakfast. It was just a vegetable omelet, but OH it was good. Then Colin peeled off and Brittany and I went to Cave Point, which is rugged dolomite coast with cool sea caves and beautiful cedar forests and dunes. We went on a long hike (which resulted in a sunburn that will give me a different set of tan lines from the ones from the day before) and then drove to a lake where Brittany’s friend Elise (who I had hung out with in Paris) was sitting with her boyfriend. We talked and caught up a little, but when they decided to go in the water—I hadn’t worn the awkward bikini again…wouldn’t have even if it had occurred to me—I decided to hit the road.

The way back was long and annoying. I took the recommended route this time, but it goes through Appleton and Oshkosh and all that area, which is nothing (from the highway, anyway) but land pollution and three- or four-lane highways. Next time I’ll just go the other way. I was glad to see my cats again, and gladder to be in my own bed, and not so glad to be going to work the next day. But I’ve been invited back in the fall, with Simon. I was delighted to accept and I’m looking forward to going back!


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