Memorial Day weekend. I already feel like I am going to miss out on summer. While everyone else on Cape Cod is tweeting and posting about boat rides and backyard barbecues, all I can think about is fighting traffic on my way to work and then driving around in circles until I find a parking space. I will be lucky if I clock in on time. I am on the schedule for all three days of this long holiday weekend. To top it all off, I am doing the dreaded closing shift on Saturday night. After 6:00pm, families with multiple, whiny, tired little children wander in after dinner to "browse". More like, make a disaster of all the neatly folded t-shirts and utterly destroy the rowboat display full of stuffed black puppies. Nearing closer to 8:00pm, the store is filled with patrons who imbibed one too many margaritas on the patio of the Mexican joint around the corner. An hour wait to get a plate of tacos can really put someone under a table. Since all these people do is mess up the store without dropping any cash, we might as well close at 5:59pm and save on payroll.
But who am I to complain? I was the one who agreed to work these shifts. A few weeks ago, when it was raining, raw and cold: typical Cape Cod in the springtime, when summer seemed so out of reach that it was never going to get here, I looked at the schedule and said, "O.K." It's my own fault that I forgot just as I always do, that when I least expect it, the beautiful weather appears suddenly out of nowhere. The grass is green, needing to be mowed, the snap peas are beginning to climb the fence and right on cue, the tourists are heading over the bridge in a long, endless line of cars from who knows where, invading this sanctuary I call home 365 days a year. Most of them are so delighted to be here that I can't help but be open to sharing this beautiful space of sand and ocean. However, some can be downright rude, making me want to lock imaginary gates across the Cape Cod Canal to keep them all out.
Each unpleasant interaction is etched in my memory. Like the time we were heading to the beach one hot July day. Val was driving us three kids in the dilapidated, fatigue green Oldsmobile to our daily swimming lesson at Old Silver Beach. There was a car on the road in front of us, cruising slowly, below the 30 mile an hour speed limit in a residential neighborhood. It's navy and orange license plate glinted in the sun. Just some tourists driving too slow, probably not knowing where they were going. We grumbled that we would be late for our lessons (an embarrassment especially I could not bear). Val admonished us to be patient. The next thing we knew, food containers and soda cans were being hurled out the windows of the vehicle ahead, trash landing on pristine front lawns and along picket fences. Now, normally calm Val was agitated Wasn't it enough that so many people descended into our town, congesting our streets and crowding our beaches? Do they also have to dirty our homes with their garbage? That was it! Val jammed her foot on the gas and pulled our clunky green car alongside those fancy tourist wheels. She was going to teach those rude interlopers a lesson, never mind that we were now cruising down the middle of a windy back road. Our polite and well-mannered mother leaned across the passenger side and yelled out the window to the offending litterbugs,
"TAKE YOUR NEW YORK TRASH AND GO HOME!"
Then she sped up and cut them off. Moments later, she casually turned the car into the beach lot and we went for our usual day at the beach, as if nothing happened, at all. But my brother, sister and I giggled in secret about her outburst for the rest of the summer, secretly proud that our mother would not put up with such New York nonsense.
I'm sure those tourists didn't pick up their trash or leave right then and go home. But my mother probably felt better after speaking her mind, at least for a short while. You see, it's hard to live through a long, boring winter, a seemingly endless, chilly spring and finally get to the fleeting joys of summer here in this idyllic place of sun and surf only to have to share it with so many others who may not be respectful during their stay.
So, while I'm trying to get to work, taking a secret side road to avoid the increasing traffic and leaving my house an additional 30 minutes earlier, I need to remember another thing my mother taught me. Especially in late August when my patience wanes and I'm so darn sick of people and I want to punch a few of them right in the face. One day when I was frazzled, at the end of my rope and ready to walk off the job, she said to me,
"Just look at them and see a pair of dollar signs instead of their eyes."
That's right. When my parents had three little ones at home, Val had a typical summer job to stash away some extra cash for the winter. She was a smart waitress that killed her annoying customers with kindness until they racked up a big tab and left her a hefty tip. Ruthless, maybe but we are pretty burned out around here by August 15th.
If you happen to come by the shop where I am peddling t-shirts and fond vacation memories, don't be surprised that the temperature in the store is around 60 degrees on a bright, sunny 80 degree summer day. If you are cold, buy a sweatshirt. (Why do you think I turned up the a/c?) And while you are at it, perhaps you need a beach towel and a baseball hat. Heck, didn't you need to bring something back to the person caring for your dog and everyone in your extended family? ( I need to make my goal today and I'm pretty ruthless about it, too.) I'm sorry if I don't recognize you from your visit last year. I hope you understand, everyone looks the same when they have $$ signs for eyes.
This recipe is adapted from Cooking Light, May 2016 (Classic Margarita)
After Work Margarita
1 1/2 oz. silver tequila
1 ounce fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
1 1/2 teaspoons agave nectar
1/2 oz. Chambord (raspberry liquor)
1 lime wedge
Combine the first 3 ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Seal and shake vigorously until your hands stick from the cold. Strain into a fancy martini or margarita glass. Add Chambord. Garnish with lime wedge.
*For margarita with salt. Before pouring margarita into fancy glass, run lime wedge around edge and dip into a dish filled with sea salt.
**Substitute Grand Marnier for Chambord, if you prefer.