My son Benjamin, aka Benji, my assigned sobriquet, which I’mmm— pretty sure, he just ignores, and chalks it up as, it’s the ole-man, and he ain’t right, was doing a reading from a piece he wrote, Don’t Worry, Your “Secret” is Safe with Me, in commenonration of his MFA degree completion from Southern Connecticut State University on campus—roughly eight hours away. This meant, “road trip adventure”—disembarking from the home front to a distant doss has/”had” the same lethal consequences as a Petri dish, whose inoculates, The Boss Lady and I, have the fecundity of Ebola with the potentiating virulence to give rise to risable mishaps; especially, when careening the interstate dodging eighteen-wheelers. There was one occasion, NASCAR aspirant, Boss-Lady, needled through traffic to pass a convoy of trucks pitched to a degree of freeing two wheels, as if to simulate a rude hand gesticulation poignantly directed at the inconsiderate truck drivers. The insidious dark side of the Boss-Lady, jack in the box-like impetuousness has its mischievous ramifications! The marathon drive was emotionally eclectic, which was spurred by looming trailers of 18 wheelers’ casting sun-eclipsing shadows; interstate sluggishness exhibiting symptoms of cardiovascular disease with embolic car congestion; and then, the notorious “New England mystery“, the enigmatic highway clot; a near impedance of car flow, engendering driver and co-pilot anginia angst without apparent cause: Thirty miles from our desired hotel, MapQuest informed us that it would take 1 hr and 30 minutes—why??— therein, lies the confoundment. The perps, agents of ferment, had multiple ideologies: 1) It was Friday and the working Connecticutians were going home after their work stint in New York City; 2) multiple graduations that weekend to include, the renown ivy-league Yale; and 3) a plausible wreck, which no hints of crumpled fenders were spied—befuddled countenance, mumbling expletives were pervasive portraits among the white knuckled, red faced drivers when a sole malefactor could not be fingered.
When we finally arrived in Milford, just short of the definitive destination of New Haven’s campus of Southern Connecticut State University, we were testy and tired, and in dire need of food and alcohol anodynes to ameliorate the manifold grumblings of hunger and irritability. We found our therapeutic solace at SBC Restaurant & Beer Bar, a brewery with Dagwood Bumstead’s size burgers that encroached on the entire realestate of the plate leaving little room for the accompanying fries; not a criticism, just an assessment. After scarfing down the bodacious burgers and beers, we felt compelled to do a cursory casing of the quaint coastal town; hoping, to remedy the cloud of confinding car travel ickiness—comparable to poping a mint to absolve halitosis. Resolution appeared just out of reach, we chalked it up to an under current of fatigue, in spite of the propelling edgy energy—early to bed, might be the panacea.
We both woke up early “naturally” the next morning; without the jarring ring of alarms. Presumably, excited about the cuminating climax of the day: attending Benji’s reading, and meeting the cast of supporting characters that fostered our son’s academic pursuit of writing. Before daring I-95 again by navigating the nexus West Haven to New Haven, the Boss Lady planned a little excursion to Silver Sand State Park located on Long Island Sound, 297 acres of beach, dunes, restored salt marsh and the satellite bird sanctuary of Charles island within proximal visual and audible entreating sirens of salt zephyrs. The Boss Lady is fully in tuned to the instinctinonal allure the estuary has for marine biologists, like pheromones and photons it engenders the inner moth—attempting to quench an insatiable consummation I, scent bound, humbly attempt to walk in the shadows of two avant-garde icons, marine biologists, Ed Ricketts and Rachel Carson. Ed Ricketts, renaissance biologist that popularizied ecological terms of estuary and niche, and philosophically, promulgated that organisms should be empirically studied as an intergal agent inextricably embedded in their habitat; and, Rachel Carson, perspicaciously-Sherlockian linked the pesticide DDT, which has a propensity to persist in the environment to endangering the bald eagle to near extinction. I reverentially attempt to emulate their verve as they gallvanted through the wetland with the imagined audible sucking inertia of foot prying from mud; a squishy, methane odoriferous, ebony colored foot print, which forged an inevitable path through Spartina alterniflora, a smooth saltmarsh cordgrass; and, defensively swatted the annoying ubiquitous bitting midges, aka no see ums, optically stealth with over 4,000 species. The sorties of raptorial flies are a bargain entrance fee to the enamor rhapsody of the ocean’s nursery: The Estuary.
The morning romp was a ramble on established asphalt walkways and wooden bridges; our attire and footware dictated the cultivated venues: no detritus slurpy stepping. The clime of the day was not invitingly cordial; a canopy of nimbus clouds unfurled a gray haze sheet with dual vexation of chilling wind and soggy intermitten showers. Everything glisten with a sheen of wetness, the colors of the floral and mudflats were dominated by drab greens, hues of browns—and— with exclamatory exceptions of blinding brillance of lemon yellow, new growth green, and typing paper white. The incandescent yellow was the Boss Lady’s rendition of the Morton Salt Girl; tendentiously her portrayal had it all over the original 1914 debut—new and improved; splotches of tightly cropped, nascent green were, burgeoning smooth cord grass; and, the typing paper white was, the solitary great egret stalking for brekfast of piscine morsels. Slowly swirling in a 360 absorbing, as the mudflats with fluctuating tides, I became saturated, soggy with estuarine ambiance; I nodded to the Morton Salt Girl, signaling, it’s time to leave.
With wary consternation, we set our MapQuest to SCSU, then forged ahead on the mystical I-95 via West Haven. There was a sigh of relief after, we did not encounter any inexplicable sluggish traffic impedance; we arrived unencumbered from vehicular congestion and vexation. Mouse like, we navigated the labyrinth of corridors to the English Dept’s “Common Room”, where the presentations would be emancipated by authors to the public to consume and ponder. We were the first to arrive, which easily could have been suggestive/interpreted as a saddlebag of apprehension; mounting anticipation of Benji’s reading and a trepidation of being tardy and missing the ceremony. As we sat and waited, we were spectators to the viewing of the pageantry of primary characters: academic dons and their understudies, the readers, and supporting cast of family and friends waiting readily to forment adulation. During this interlude, an emotional stirring anticipatory prelude to the litarary shindig, we meet Tim Parish, Benji’s Thesis Director, a towering of a man, sporting bifocales and a finely cropped hoary goatee, who had a perpetual smile and melodious voice that beseeched entrustment: You immediately felt welcomed in his presence. His meritorious comments about Ben’s work ethics evoked beams of pride; we thought, he gets and knows the Ben we respect and love.
The inception of the belletristic gala commenced with the perfunctory preambles of the profs and their apprentices: Tim’s intro to Ben was laudably masterful, which magnified his attributes and his writings hook, that was irrefutably spot on:…“Ben’s book is a work of brilliant structure, unconventional and daring narrative, and deep search for what truth may lie in the labyrinthine ways we tell stories to ourselves and others.”…and then, the unconventional was emphasized by Tim when he made reference to his content enriching satrical sketches...“It would be folly to try and summarize Ben’s narrative, so I will simply say that it is primarily a desperate and wildly creative search for meaning by its narrator, as well as journey into the unknowable through multiple genres, including Ben’s provocative sketches. It’s also, at times, really funny.”
So— Ben is at the podium, and had decided to read from a short piece, Don’t Worry, Your Secrete is Safe with Me!, not the beefy tome, that Tim made reference to, “This is Ben’s thesis. I haven’t weighed it, but I can safely say that its physical heft far outweighs any thesis I’ve ever had before.” Does the environment, the shrouding culture impinge on ones creative thoughts, perceptions—a quick reference to the nature v nurture controversy; where, nature infers genetics and nurture the encroaching variables of the environment—my suspicion is, the nurture of the New England literary cult of cringing mysteries is so pervasive it incarcerates the imagination. What I’m suggesting is, New England writers are predispose to a selective literary theme manipulation; the climax is a resolution of the Churchillian quote, “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”—some one, did something, to somebody at an undisclosed time? Affirmation of my visceral conjecture was confirmed by Mystery Readers international with its Volume 17, No 1 Spring 2001, Mystery Readers Journal, New England Mysteries: its a real thing! Seldom do I have a cogent point, ever, but Ben’s story toting a secrete confers a tantalizing mystery by emotively exhuming a misconstrued convention of an assumed familial relationship; when the mother of two sons, computer stumbles on a “possibly serendipitous” gay porn site, which was recently visited, and then attempts, apprehensively to investigate. The matriarch’s detective maneuvering method is the steeping of Ben’s crafted realization that love does not seague into an expected trust, when Ben concludes, “So: the question then was this: Have you ever done anything that one might reasonably construe as bigoted toward, say, a particular group, person? Course, ’cause you know the answer but didn’t care to hear it said aloud, you never asked your brother why he felt as though he couldn’t trust you with the TRUTH.”
We were extremely proud of Ben that day; the literary cornucopia of essays and poems from his class were very impressive: the delightful inspiring “word” still reigns supreme as a catalyzing agent fomenting diversity and pluralism. We wrapped up with hugs and beer imbibing—very satisfying! The Boss Lady and I were in search for an unique, memorable meal to emphatically capitalize the incredible day; our search found an authentic Peruvian resturatant, which for the life of me, I can’t recall what I ordered, but it was disparately Peurivan, and I thought, musing while masticating, whatever it was—since the ancient Peruivans— the Incas, most important God was Inti, the “sun” god a homonym to son, this was indeed, the perfect commemorative feast. I shared this with the Boss Lady, she wryly smiled and sipped her wine, a then gave a head shake with the familar countenance of, you silly man.
The next day, we drove home without all the theatrics of annoying traffic—we smiled a lot reflecting… Thank you Ben, for a wonderful time.