I’m skipping politics today. You can only watch a train wreck in progress for so long before you need to turn away a moment and look at something else.
About the farthest thing from politics are memories of my last vacation in July of 2006. For better or worse, that vacation saved my job, because just before I left I found out that I’d been unceremoniously dumped from the bonus plan.
The week off let me cool down enough to keep from doing something rash. That was a good thing, because I was closer than most folks realize to just packing it in. The vacation bought me five more years of employment. Bumpy years, to be sure, but valuable in their own way.
I packed my wife and daughter and my daughter’s friend Caitlyn into a rented SUV and set off to the Outer Banks. (My son passed on going. I forget why. In retrospect, I wish he’d gone. I passed on a lot of my parent’s vacations at his age, and I regret that now. They were missed opportunities for memories to carry with me the rest of my life).
We stayed at a large house called “Bullwinkle” that we shared with my brothers, sisters and their families and friends. We did all the usual things folks do on beach vacations: Eat too much, burn on the beach, check out the local gift shops, and visit the local attractions.
One great memory was a trip out for Bar-B-Que with my brother Bill. We went to a place on Roanoke Island called “Pigman’s Bar-B-Que.” They made a vinegar-and-mustard based sauce for their pork bar-b-que sandwiches, a new thing for me at the time, and I loved it. The woman behind the counter was tough-as-nails with a half-smoked cigarette and a long, scary piece of ash dangling from its tip.
We named her Wanda Lee Higginbopper, a mighty woman who could arm wrestle you with one hand while doling out your pork sandwich with the other. My kind of lady.
The place wasn’t perfectly hygienic, to put it mildly. And we suspected they monkeyed with the health code rating hanging on the wall: an '8' looked suspiciously like a surgically altered ‘6’. But the joint had character. Bad character, true, but I fell in love with it. Whether it’s still there or not, I’m not sure. I think the business changed hands and possible expanded. I know you can get a traditional red Pigman’s sauce at the store these days.
But can I get the vinegar-mustard sauce, complete with authentic traces of cigarette ash, at my local Weiss market? Probably not. And a damned shame, too.
The Land of Wanda Lee
Meanwhile, back at Bullwinkle, my wife found her own bit of paradise doing what she loves: hunting for shells.
She passed on the BBQ
Five years in the rear-view, and it feels like two eye-blinks ago. Suddenly I’m hungry for a Pigman…