Last weekend, my partner and I drove to Rhode Island to celebrate a birthday with my family. As anyone who has ever driven to the other side of the state can tell you, Massachusetts has some terrible town names. There's Belchertown, which seems rude until you drive a bit further and realize there's a town called Athol. And then Blandford, which as soon as I saw the sign, I could not resist saying in a depressed monotone "Welcome to Blandford." We wondered briefly why the town of Blandford was so bland, but within a few miles, another sign gave us our answer: "Reduced Salt Area."
Once we arrived in Rhode Island, it was time to attend the dinner and a show. Our family and friends comprised eight people of a 10-person table, the last two seats being filled by strangers. But not for long -- they were sitting next to my mother.
My mother is what can only be described as "unreasonably friendly." She knows many people in Rhode Island, and if she does not know them, she is quick to remedy that state of affairs. The restaurant was incredibly noisy, so I could not hear my mother across the table, but my mother has a knack for holding a conversation with anyone about anything.
Twenty minutes later, one of the women turned to me and said, "So I hear you're an author. Tell me about your books." My mother at work.
Soon, six feet in front of me was the glittering pink waistcoat of Elton John, playing a loud medley of his best-known
He was an impersonator. As Sir Elton left the stage and Bette Middler made her entrance, my sister attempted to say something, but it was far too loud between the music and the screaming for me to hear. In a way, it's sort of a metaphor for life. Some people you want to hear, but meanwhile there are very loud people you don't care about, some of whom may be pretending to be more important than they are.
I'm a bad impersonator. I can do a halfway decent Bullwinkle J. Moose, but I never got the hang of that famous celebrity "Guy who is fully enjoying the show instead of holding his ears because the music is too loud," even when the people on stage were doing some very talented impressions.
The next day, we were at an ice cream stand and my mom called me over to some people she was talking to in the other line. As usual, I had to wonder whether these were strangers she had just befriended. But then she said, "Seth, this is Kate, and she went to nursery school with you."
I know that a few weeks prior, my mother had set me up to have lunch with the brother of my third-grade classmate, and I'd thought to myself that surely she had reached the apex of introducing me to forgotten people from far in my past. But my mother should never be underestimated.
On our way back to North Adams, we stopped at an Asian Market that was selling vegetarian sliced meat. I couldn't help but wonder if it was made of real vegetarians. I only knew one thing:
They'd never serve it in Blandford.
Seth Brown is a humor writer, the author of "From God To Verse" and is glad to be back in North Adams. His work appears weekly in the Transcript and weakly on RisingPun.com.