After the beach, we spent the rest of the evening on the boardwalk which was my favorite part because I love boardwalks. Especially boardwalks that also have rides, which this one did not but that’s OK because it still had a 1980s vibe to it, as evidenced by the postcard Chooch and I bought for Barb:
Nothing was NEW and FLASHY about Hampton Beach and that made it easier to imagine all of the Lost Boys-era Corey Haims carousing up and down the boardwalk. There was also a significant bit of police action, mostly traffic-related, which gave Alyson the opportunity to teach Chooch to call them popo, much to Henry’s chagrin. You know how he loves the popo!
Fried dough is the big treat to get in that region, in lieu of funnel cake which is the big summer staple that I’m used to. I figured it was the same, just a different shape, but Alyson insisted that they didn’t really taste alike. She was definitely right, and I decided that I liked fried dough equally as much as I like funnel cake, which is “A good deal, but not enough to order my own.” So it’s a good thing that Chooch isn’t a total dick when it comes to sharing.
I would have preferred him to get a different topping other than “chocolate syrup” though. There were a ton to choose from! Alyson opted for powdered sugar, which seems like the classic route. I wanted Henry to order one with the vague topping of “Sauce.” What kind of sauce? SECRET sauce? I couldn’t even imagine. But then Alyson said she thought it was just tomato sauce and I was disappointed. And also a little disgusted because I don’t want fried dough to be savory. I want it to be stuffed with marshmallows and Sno-Caps and wrapped in spun sugar.
Ice cream on the side.
Is it that obvious that this is being typed by a fat bitch on a diet?
I appreciate Alyson’s sense of balance and that Blink’s spells it “fry doe.”
OMG I’m sorry!! I don’t know what I did, but I’m sorry!!
There is a fan on the ceiling near the entrance of Blink’s which Alyson warned us of ahead of time. Sometimes, she said, people will order fried dough with powdered sugar, and when they turn to leave, the fan will blow the sugar all over them. It didn’t happen to her too much that evening, and she seemed kind of bummed about it. Had it been me, that motherfucker would have made me look like I had just gone bobbing for cocaine. Trust me. I’m a magnet for food spills.
Remember my French waffle initiation last year?
I only took two bites of Chooch’s fried dough and felt like I had a chocolate beard. I kept asking Henry if I did and he’d say “Yes” over and over without ever looking at me because he is the worst boyfriend ever and never has my back. Or a napkin!!
We don’t have Rexalls in Pittsburgh, so anytime I see or hear about one, I always think about that Dave Navarro song “Rexall” and then I feel shame for owning that CD.
No one kicked me out, though.
Dude, THIS PLACE. We weren’t even over the threshold yet and this beautiful, antiquated musk wafted out from inside the arcade and suckerpunched my face.
“Oh wow, that smell!” I said to Alyson, but not at all in a tone of disgust.
“I knew you would appreciate it,” she said, nodding.
It was the perfume of a century of fun-having and Skee Ball-playing and ticket-redeeming and first-kissing. Alyson said this place is full of ghosts and she’s right. But the good kinds. The kinds that would die all over again if this place was ever completely modernized, the way Chuck E. Cheese was which subsequently took a huge dump on my childhood.
It was here that we discovered Henry is apparently “pretty good” at Skee-Ball. I wish he was also “pretty good” at buying a house. Or “pretty good” at playing Skee-Ball in a veritable Fodor’s guide of European destinations that he was also “pretty good” at taking me on vacation.
Sometimes I cry along with the ghosts.
The ghosts of my silver spoon childhood!
I’m not really much of a game-player, though I did call some young lad over to help me turn on Q*bert, only to expire at the beginning of level 2. That was enough of a fix for me! I spent the rest of the time watching Chooch and Alyson play air hockey like maniacs and Henry act cool for playing some poker machine thing. Then it took Chooch an eternity to redeem his tickets. He wound up with a stuffed penguin (yay, more stuffed things—we really think he’s going to grow up to be a furry) and a ball. And some candy, because the girl behind the counter was just trying to get rid of him at that point. HERE, TAKE SOME TOOTSIE ROLLS K BYE.
Henry stands beneath a sign of his People!
Finally, I had reached the point where my Parker’s pot-stirring grilled cheese had seemed like days ago and I decided for all of us that we must eat now. Alyson said that there was a good seafood joint up ahead called the Whale’s Tail, but we arrived to find that it had turned into the Summer Wind at some point along the way, the strip-facing windows of which told us that there were absolutely zero diners inside. It was around 7:30 on a Sunday night, but Hampton Beach was still packed so it seemed odd that a single table was occupied.
Red flag #1: deserted restaurant.
Still, we inspected the menu posted on the door and found that the restaurant had everything we were looking for…except other diners. I mean, yes, I hate crowded restaurants, but when you’re smack in the middle of a busy beach and there is not one soul inside eating some fucking clams, that’s weird, right? And just when Henry was like, “Let’s keep walking,” the middle aged hostess inside the restaurant made eye contact with us and started smiling wildly and waving at Chooch, because all the crazies sink their no-good hooks into him first. (Me second.)
Red flag #2: overenthusiastic hostess miming through a window.
Alyson and I decided that it could be an adventure to go inside while Henry was all NO NO NO NO, but majority rules, sweetheart.
“The air conditioner broke, so that’s why no one is here!” the hostess explained very Edie McClurg-y. “BUT WE HAVE FANS!! I CAN SEAT YOU BENEATH A FAN!!!”
Red flag #3: OMG no a/c.
It didn’t feel bad in there though, and it was already cooling down outside anyway, so we followed her to a table near the window, so that other people could walk by and wonder why only 4 people were eating at this weird restaurant.
“Are you ready?” the hostess called out to a young waitress sitting in a booth with a busboy. But the way she said it, it made me feel like, wait—ready for what? Was she going to sing us a song? Get the cameras rolling because this is actually an episode of Kitchen Nightmares? Did the hostess want her to alert the devil in the kitchen that his sacrificial lambs had arrived? Prepare the arsenic?
Red flag #4: WEIRD EMPLOYEE CUES.
And then of course as soon as we were seated, I started talking shit about how weird she was only to find that she was standing right behind me still. But she was too busy doting on Chooch to notice I think. God, Chooch gets ALL OF THE DOTING.
The waitress, who I guess was ready, came over to take our orders and let us know that they were out of French fries so there would be a no-charge substitution for sweet potato fries instead. I was glad for this, because I like sweet potato fries. So I ordered that and fried clams, Henry copied me, Alyson chose clam chowder and boiled clams and Chooch got something plain. Probably chicken strips which he didn’t eat.
When the waitress came back with our drinks, I noticed that she brought Henry water instead of iced tea. Henry either didn’t notice or didn’t care, and I chose not to say anything because I enjoy watching things play out on their own. But of course he noticed and waited until she came back with Alyson’s chowder to point at his water glass and ask simply, “Iced tea?” in a tone subtly tinged with ice. Do not fuck up Henry’s drink order, bitches.
Before our food arrived, Henry ran out to the parking lot to feed the meter. The waitress chose that moment to regretfully inform us that the kitchen was also out of sweet potato fries and offered to substitute HOME MADE tortilla chips and artichoke dip instead. At this point, I just wanted SOMETHING TO EATTM so I said that was fine.
“And him….?” she asked, motioning to Henry’s vacant chair.
“Oh, he’ll be fine with that too!” I lied, and after she retreated I said to Alyson, “Oh, Henry is going to be so pissed!” and we burst out in laughter.
Red flag #5: A restaurant that has not served any patrons all day SUPPOSEDLY is out of potato products. WHY?
But, despite all of the red flags, I found my clams to be just fine! And Alyson enjoyed hers too, and the Summer Wind had given us so many LOL-moments that the red flags only made it better. Plus, no one became violently ill afterward. Although I’m not entirely ruling out the theory that the old Whale’s Tail owner is now a life-sized Popsicle in a basement freezer.
Henry, upon returning to a plateful of HOMEMADE TORTILLA CHIPS and artichoke dip. Surprise, motherfucker!!
Henry, still displeased with the experience.
Right as we were leaving, some hungry people came in wanting a table and were turned away. “We’re closing early tonight,” I heard some waitress call out to them from inside the bowels of the restaurant. It was only 8:30, and they had been complaining about how no one had come in all day! Maybe they ran out of HOMEMADE TORTILLA CHIPS too.
Afterward, we stopped by the shooting gallery, and I don’t know what this old woman whispered into Henry’s furry ear, but it sure cheered him right up! Alyson swears this woman has been a shooting gallery icon even back when her mom was a kid, and I can believe it. I was watching this babushka’d woman the whole time as she leaned back and watched everyone shoot away, and I could tell that this was her happy place. But I’m fairly certain that when the gallery closes for the night, she links arms with the Sheriff in the corner and returns to her original mannequin form.
She even taught Chooch how to take his time and aim. It was a real Christmas miracle. Typically, as soon as Henry feeds quarters into the slot, Chooch kicks into rapid-fire shooting-mode and wastes all of his shots in the span of 5 seconds.
Made Henry pause for another photo-op on the way back.
One last stop for ice cream and it was sadly time to leave. I’m not much a beach person & usually opt to take several small weekend trips over the course of the summer, doing amusement park-y and concert-y things because I need constant action. The last time we went to one was Ocracoke in 2006 (and it was one of the worst vacations of my life), but spending the day at Hampton Beach brought back so many good childhood memories of summers in Wildwood, NJ with my Pappap and now my mind is made up that we are going to Wildwood next summer and staying in one of the same hotels that I used to stay in with my family. So have fun planning that, Henry. Don’t fuck it up.
During the car ride back to Nashua, Alyson sat in the back with Chooch and told him more stories of her Massachusetts-tongued co-workers and delivery drivers she encounters daily, and we were all laughing until our stomachs hurt. Even Henry twisted his mustache a few times, which means he is currently finding mirth in something but trying to fight it. Alyson would be in the middle of some deep, burly Bostonian improv when she would smoothly transition into dulcet tones in order to give Henry directions, which made me crack up even harder. I only half-joked that she should be a GPS voice.
Then Chooch realized he had my old iPhone with him and made Alyson start over so that he could record her. He then proceeded to watch these videos ad nauseum for the rest of our vacation. It was all fun and games until it occurred to me that Alyson had taught Chooch to mock the Boston accent when we’d be spending the next day there. I hoped he wouldn’t openly mimic anyone in public because I wasn’t sure if I’d be willing to take a punch for him.
Back at Alyson’s house, we said goodbye for what hopefully will not be another 5 years. Thank you, Alyson, for a weekend of pure happiness and many Tolhurst-moments!
GET TO WORK, BOY!