Fish Story

Looking over the scrub oaks, past the pond to Tom Nevers head. ACK.

I smell bacon.

It’s unmistakable. It’s the smell of a workingman’s breakfast. It’s the smell that makes many a vegetarian yearn and even fall off the wagon. It’s the smell of something so bad that is so good.

There was a period when The Spouse was all about big breakfasts. He dubbed it the “hearty sailor breakfast.” I believe that term originated from a trip to the whaling museum combined with his summer obsession of reading Moby Dick on Tom Nevers beach. Slap me silly and call me Ishmael, but I don’t think he ever made it beyond the first third (I’m being very generous here) of his library-stolen, tattered black-bound volume with the fabric cover frayed, loosened and then separated from its spine. Me? I read the Cliff Notes.

So the hearty sailor breakfasts started at the beach house, where we’d cup our mugs of hot coffee as we surveyed the scrub oak and the annual shrinking view of the pond from the kitchen of the upside-down house. Beyond the pond, across a span of beach that ebbed and flowed according to the severity of the winter storms, was the big, wide and deep Atlantic.

It was sometimes blue. It was sometimes gray. It was sometimes green. It was often blue-gray mottled with green-blue tipped by shifting white caps with the deepest blue lapping at the horizon. I can see why Tom Nevers stood at that beachhead looking for whales. We did, too.

At night, the moon would laser its beam to light up a black-blue sea, whereupon the ocean would reflect it right back up, keeping some of the glow for itself to spread like a blanket that it cozied under. On some nights, the moon would creep up behind the ocean. On those nights it would magic itself into a giant glowing wafer and slowly, slowly, ever so slowly rise, so as not to tip off the waves. It only did this when it was a full moon. A crescent didn’t have the heft for this trick. But the giant sphere was so big it could hide in plain sight.

The morning after a moon like that, eggs and pancakes with blueberries, butter and real maple syrup and bacon would hit the long wooden table. There would be pirate talk, but mostly the boys vacuuming their breakfasts before a bike ride or beach day.

One year, the hearty sailor breakfasts continued at home. The Spouse would get up and start cooking a few strips of bacon to the delight of boys not anxious to get up and go to school. Much better than the cold cereal that The Doc offered up. There wasn’t always eggs and pancakes and bacon. Some days it was pancakes and bacon. Others eggs and bacon. But always bacon.

The smell of bacon soon permeated the morning routine. It began to greet me when I came home from work. It seemed to seep into the couch, the rug, the draperies. It hung in my coat, my gloves, my sweater, my t-shirt, my hair. After two-weeks of waking up to the smell of bacon, of coming home to the smell of bacon, of brushing my teeth to the smell of bacon, of going to bed to the smell of bacon, I felt like I lived in a greasy diner. The ones you recognize from a half-block away because of the smell of bacon. Always the smell of bacon.

Did I mention that I don’t care for bacon in the morning? I’m not big into breakfast. A bowl of cereal or a yogurt and some fruit or toast and coffee? I’m good. I mean, I’ll eat a waffle occasionally, but omelettes and hash browns and breakfast meats and toast and butter? No thank you.

Two weeks of the descent into The Great Bacon Diner, and I had enough. Enough bacon every single morning. That was it. And to this day, a dozen plus years later, I am still ridiculed for my bacon hatred and the moratorium I supposedly instituted.

Except that is obviously not true, because today, like many times in the past decade, I smelled bacon. And like many times since the purported bacon-ban, the eyes of the Big Guy and Baby Bear shone with an impish gleam. Like the sneaky moon, getting one over on the ocean. Thar she blows!

And for this, all of it, I am thankful. Happy Thanksgiving, Loyal Reader.

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