Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The O.J. Chase and Why Moms Can't Trust Daughters-In-Law



I’ll never forget O.J.’s slow Bronco chase. Mainly because I never saw it in the first place.

Twenty years ago, Elizabeth and I were celebrating our first anniversary. Neither of us had ever spent much time in the New England, so we took a grand driving adventure from Boston to Maine. We hopped from bed-and-breakfast to bed-and-breakfast, from Boston proper to Cambridge to Portsmouth to Camden to Bar Harbor.

We saw a Red Sox game, mostly. I actually tried to watch, but was hampered by the obstructed view seat along the rightfield line. That’s what you get from buying tickets on game day along Yawkey Way. Elizabeth, one of the two non-sports fans who lives in our house, spent the entire nine innings reading a book. She took no interest in the Green Monster, the Citgo sign or the fact that all my baseball heroes – Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, Dwight Evans, Wade Boggs, Al Nipper – played on this very grass.

She was more interested in seeing Paul Revere’s workshop and the battlefield at Bunker Hill and all the other sites of New England's largest city. We later drove up the coast, stopping off in Salem to check out the witches, going to Strawberry Banke, taking a sunset cruise and rocking on the front porch of Whitehall Inn.

We stopped at every lobster pound we could find on our way to Bar Harbor, but weren’t brave enough to try the lobster ice cream they sold in a downtown tourist shop. We had perhaps the smallest bathroom in the history of the world at the Cleftstone Manor, so cramped that I twice had to go outside just to change my mind.

We took several drives around the loop of Acadia National Park, watching the sunset over Cadillac Mountain, listening to the roar of Thunder Hole and eating popovers at the Jordan Pond House.

The only bad thing about the vacation was that it occurred during an unusually intense Northeast heat wave. And since most places up there don’t invest in air conditioning, we were miserably hot for the entire nine days. It was actually hotter every day in New England than it was in South Carolina, where we lived at the time.

On our way out of Bar Harbor, we bought a dozen or so live lobsters to take home with us. Too bad no one told us when we got home that we should cook them before we put them in the freezer. Instead, they died in their own horrible Hoth, with no Echo Base to return to. And then we had to throw them all away.

Otherwise, it was a perfect getaway – until the last day.

On June 17 – today’s anniversary of the famed slow Bronco chase -- we had to drive from Bar Harbor to Marble Head, Massachusetts, where we were spending the last night before flying home out. We checked in to a whitewashed B&B and my stomach began to rumble. Then it began to explode. And then the cool white porcelain and tile of the bathroom became the best friend I ever had.

Now some say the decisions I made earlier in the day might have had something to do with it. It was a long drive, about five hours. I was starving. It had been awhile since breakfast. So I dug around the back seat for the leftovers from our drive up the coast, and I ate of piece of sausage pizza out of the cardboard box. That had been there for two days. In a heat wave. Over the vehement protests of my loving and caring bride.

“That’s going to make you SICK,” she said.

“I’ll be fine,” I said.

I can’t say for certain that slice (or two) is what gave me food poisoning. We did stop at Burger King about halfway down the coast. It could have been the Whopper with cheese. Or the French fries. The personal injury lawyer I called about a lawsuit told me I probably shouldn’t pursue it, so we’ll never really know.

For sure, however, I was in no shape to catch the live news coverage of the Bronco chase, along with the 95 million Americans who reportedly watched every glacial second. I didn’t even know it happened until the next day, when my wife asked “Have you ever heard of O.J. Simpson?” I’ve never been so sick.

There wasn’t much sympathy from my traveling companion. Al Cowlings was probably a more empathic co-pilot. It’s been a source of family discord ever since. It didn’t help that when we got home and told my dear mother about what happened she hugged me, told me she hoped I felt better and then turned to Elizabeth and said sternly, “I can’t believe you let him eat that.”

Yep, it was all her fault.

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