The "Rhode" to Ninigret
After the dance in Philly, I headed into New Jersey, drove across the state after midnight, and settled in a little town by the shore called Neptune. I had an old friend there, a former Carmelite novice with whom I worked on a magazine devoted to apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, back when that was my idea of moonlighting...
"Teresa Rossetti" -- "Sister Terry" as we called her -- and I had it all worked out. After appearing once on a religious radio talk show before we met, we had the idea of going on the air as a team, just as soon as somebody else brought Catholic radio to the DC area. It was going to be "Mother Angelica meets Howard Stern." We would have pulled it off. But she had a lot of energy, the kind that starts an idea but never quite gets there. That was where I was supposed to come in, to balance the act. She was a high-strung Italian-American Jersey girl if ever there was one. She went back to the Garden State -- if only to find a decent bagel -- and we lost touch with one another. The last I heard she left the convent, and was engaged. She also managed to disappear. She was really good at that...
I pulled into a side street, and fell asleep in the car. It was two in the morning. I awoke at eight, and headed for a local diner. It was to be the one big meal of the day. After freshening up in the restroom (one of the holdovers from my Boy Scout days was a talent for living on the road and still being presentable), I went to find my old friend. I failed. But I did manage to find a little book store, and acquire a great bargain on an old hand missal for life on the farm, including the traditional ritual called "Rogation Days." (Ask me later.)
I headed north, outside of New York, the city so big they had to name it twice. On into New England, and finally to the shores of Rhode Island.
One thing about these gatherings is, you meet some of the same people from the last one. So every event is as much a reunion as anything else. I got to see Brave Combo that night. A band from northern Texas that grew out of the late 70s/early 80s "new wave polka" phase, Brave Combo went from polka to Tex-Mex to cha-cha to their own weird versions of pop songs you haven't heard since you were a kid. Or at least since I was a kid. I got some woman who didn't know me from Adam to join me at their stage while everybody else was doing zydeco. (Hey, I needed a partner in case they did salsa.) Their closest shot at stardom was when they won a Grammy for "Polka Album of the Year" a couple years back, breaking Jimmy Sturr's gazillion-year winning streak. (If you're a polka fan, you don't have to be told what this means.)
Saturday was a wonderful day. Music, dancing, laughter, eating jambalaya, walking along the beach in the early evening, the endless conversation, and partying into the night. There was a "tent city" there, with street names and flags overhead identifying the various settlements like my friends as "Gator Island." I was sorry my son couldn't make the trip, since he had to work for the holiday weekend. But when I left on Sunday morning, I paid my respects to the local Catholic parish, St Clare's. It was a lovely place with reverence and people who loved to sing. I don't see that everywhere.
It was hard to leave some people early as I did. But I had a cousin to visit in Connecticut. Steve is the youngest of the family I visited in Seattle. His lovely wife Renata is from Poland. They have a little boy, and another on the way. I'm relaxing for now, and waiting to return to real life.
I've decided to curtail some activities for next weekend. I have a lot of work to do around the house, work that gets put off when I'm being a party guy. Every other woman I dance with has aches and pains and knee problems and whatever. How come I'm in such good health? Thank God for your health, my mother would say.
She may be on to something.