The Sugar Shack – Part 4 – It’s Friggin’ Cold!

If you have ever been to the Northeast in the months of May and June, then you’ll know what I mean when I say that it is hardly a paradise, unless you are one of those people that get a thrill from cold, wet, windy days, and an absolute probability of seeing the sun four times in sixty-one days.
-Journal Entry, May 31, 1989

Traveling from Arizona to Rhode Island in the last weeks of May had a profound impact on me in a number of ways. I am thankful that I kept a journal back then, because it has really helped me in piecing some of the memories back together. For instance, I had nearly forgotten how friggin’ cold it is in the Northeast in Springtime! Sometimes there’s a chill in the air all the way through July, and sometimes you may not get a summer at all.

I’ve been freezin’ my ass off for about a week now. I just can’t get used to the friggin’ weather….I feel like a friggin’ old man…This cold and damp climate has turned my lats into knots of rope. I bend at my lower back like a damn ape with a walking stick.
Journal Entry – May 23, 1989

The weather and my living arrangements conspired to produce a lot of time for philosophical thought. Well, my 18 year old brain didn’t really have that much of a clue about philosophy. I was pretty much spending a majority of my time thinking about girls (Shocking, I know!), but I was reading books by Vonnegut and Salinger and they had a heavy influence on me. I wasn’t Holden Caufield or Kilgore Trout, but I related to them in some ways.

I used to think I was this important cog in some universal machine that worked by some cosmic fuel which was produced by planetary and terrestrial harmony. But then I felt conceited, so I humbled myself and then I thought that I was this speck of stellar dust that was really only taking space away from more important beings, like scientists, musicians, mathematicians, you know? People that were like contributing their knowledge and trying to make everything more beautiful without changing the balance of the tides of the galaxy. But then I felt too unimportant and that I wouldn’t be here without a good reason. Now I just don’t think anymore. I prefer to just vegetate and wait for enlightenment. So far I have no enlightenment that I can recall. Maybe its been sent directly to my subconscious and will return as deja vu.
Journal Entry – Later on May 23, 1989

A number of factors contributed to my feelings of isolation and loneliness in those months of May and June by the shore in Rhode Island. Besides the inclement weather, the school year runs into mid to late June in the Northeast, and so there weren’t many people (Read girls) my age around during the weekdays and nights.

When I say there are no girls here, I mean between the ages of 16 and 22 and never before the end of June. This is one of the loneliest places an 18 year-old guy can spend May and June, but if you don’t want distractions, this is a desert island in the middle of the Pacific.
Journal Entry – May 23, 1989

Of course it wasn’t all filled with angst. I do have some great friends today that I knew back then, and we spent a lot of nights having fun and doing “teenager stuff”. I’ll tell you all about those escapades once I get all the waivers signed. Let me just say for now that I have uncovered several journal entries that allude to kegs, half-barrels, double-kegs, cases, and fifths.

It was against this backdrop that I would go to work with my mom at the Shack. She liked to be there to open for business early in the morning, and she would often say in her thick accent,

“I like to get down theyah to make egg on a roll sandwiches and coffee for the fisha-men goin’ out in theyah boats.”

And that is just what she did. So as I was spending my days and nights moping and thinking about all the things I didn’t have in my life at that time, she was getting up and walking the half-mile down to the Shack at 5:30 every morning. If it was a crappy day, she would take the car, and I would walk down when I woke up, which was usually sometime around 11:30 in the morning to prep for the “lunch rush”.

When I say “lunch rush” it means we had more orders than normal, but during weekdays in June, that wasn’t a lot of work. Those days it was common for me to eat way more than we sold. Maybe that’s why I never got an actual paycheck? I became the master of the bacon double-cheese burger. Even now, knowing how bad it was for my body to eat so many of those darn things, I can’t help drooling just a little bit thinking about it. I can tell you, I have had many, many food dreams in my life. Sad to say, but I’ve had way more food dreams than sex dreams.

The slowness of the early summer season made it a nice way to ease into the system at the Shack, but it may have lulled me into a false sense of control. Being a veteran of Bosa Donuts, Wendy’s and Subway, I had a high level of confidence in regard to my fast-food skills. I was king of the grill and the fry-o-later, but I would later find out that I was no match at all for my mother and her absolute obsession with and attentiveness to portion control.

Up Next…Part 5 – It’s Getting Hot in Here!

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