41. Spotlight on Crepuscular Meadows: off to the wilds of Maine: packing for the big trip
It was Saturday morning, the first day of August. Things were unusually busy in the Dandrich household, given that there was less than a day left before they would load their luggage, fishing equipment, and other stuff into the family's Hondota Oddity for a three-hour drive North/Northeast to Eastern Maine.
Minny Dandrich was at Clematis Station, presumably packing as well. Over in Lost Village, where Jim's brother Randy lived, there was also some packing going on. Randy and his wife, Trudy, would be joining his brother in Maine late Monday evening, if all went well. There was a business occasion on Monday which Randy could not get out of, and another one the following Friday. This meant three hours of driving Monday night as well as Thursday night, but Randy didn't mind. Their son Jason would be with them.
A word about interfamily relations in the Dandrich clan: Minny was a proud grandmother who loved her three grandchildren with all her heart and soul. This did not always result in wise decisions, but it seemed better than not caring at all.
Because of Grandma Minny, Bart and Chandler were always the first kids in their class to get the latest laptops. This did not always make them popular with their classmates, but they got grudging appreciation because of their willingness to give away their older laptops (for some students it was a struggle to afford even older laptops; this helped them stay not too far behind the others).
Minny also gave new laptops to Jason, who was not as generous or as kind as his two cousins. This was not a situation that could be explained in 25 words or less (or even 2,500 words, frankly), so the writer will take the wiser path and not try. Let's just say that Randy and Trudy argued with each other rather a lot. As an only child, Jason sometimes felt like a hostage. If he sided with one parent, the other would get upset. He tended to feel isolated, and didn't develop the social skills that his cousins had.
Does the reader see where this is leading? If not, wait a few days.
In any event, in various other parts of town people were getting the drift of where things were going. At the Hoohaw Reservoir, Peter Peters showed up at 10:00 a.m., right on time. He knew not to expect that the Dandriches would come by for their weekend fishing. How did he know? Well, he lived next door to Geppetto Conti, the man who lived in a cuckoo clock house. And Geppetto Conti, in turn, had dropped by Jim Betts's store Friday night for one of his famous submarine sandwiches. While Geppetto was in the store, Figaro Spontini (the Barber of Seville Street) was there was well, and mentioned that Bismarck Fedora had told him about the Dandriches' plan to go camping in Maine. Mrs. Mumble had told Bismarck. Bismarck always had his hair cut on Friday afternoons.
So, you see, the grapevine in Crepuscular Meadows was exceedingly efficient.
As the spotlight series proceeds, the reader will be introduced to more fascinating characters.
And, if the barber had not told Peter Peters's neighbor,
the news would have travelled by other means as well. Freckles was working part time at Emma Sullivan's cafe. Emma's mother Julia, you may remember, ran the cafeteria at Clematis Station, and had been known to turn Jim Dandrich's fish into yummy dishes when Eulalie got tired of preparing them. Julia was also a friend Minny Dandrich (who told her about the upcoming trip at Friday night's meal), and Julia played bingo with half a dozen Clematis Station residents on Friday nights. And as for poor, hapless Freckles, he liked to play tennis with Bart and Chandler on Friday nights. Mrs. Mumble knew about this, and would have given him the bad news.
Anyway, by Saturday at Noon, there were probably twenty or thirty people in Crepuscular Meadows who knew about the camping trip, and most were envious that they had to stay in town while those lucky Dandriches got to go swimming in crystal-clear lakes and go hiking in the woods where they might see a moose. Never mind that the black flies might make their lives a living hell if the baby oil didn't work.
Meanwhile, Bart and Chandler were agonizing over what to pack. Would there be wifi near the camp? If not, why bother to take the laptops? Oh, why had Grandma Minny not given them Smartphones? This assumed, of course, that there would be cellphone towers near the camp.
Wait a minute, cousin Harry had discussed the use of his cabin on the phone, so unless Harry had a landline, there would be cellphone signals.
"Maybe Jason will bring his Smartphone," Bart said to his brother.
"Yeah, like he would ever let anyone else use it," Chandler grumbled.
"Wait, I think dad has one, too," Bart suddenly remembered. This would set the stage for a remarkable drama in which Jim Dandrich's two sons would be uncommonly well-behaved in the hopes of getting their father to let them borrow his phone, at least for long enough
to use social media.
The plot is thickening, dear reader. Take it with as many grains of salt as you wish....