08 March 2012


In March 2001, we moved from Boston to Portland, Maine, where we lived in a big house on Deerfield Road. The "road" was really a short city street, about two blocks long. It curved, and up our leg of the curve, on our side of the street, were four houses. These four houses:

93 Deerfield Road

The first house was owned by a foreign gentleman, age 60–65, named Marshall. Coyly he told us that he came from the only non-Catholic country that spoke a Romance language. Huh, we thought, that's sort of interesting. At the time, we weren't sufficiently motivated—rather, sufficiently moved in—to puzzle it out. Marshall eventually gave us the answer: Romania. (If you're wondering what I was wondering, I'm sorry but I know nothing about what he was doing during the Ceausescu reign.)

Our son, Asa, tells us that sometimes he would be outside and Marshall would be up by his house and would roll a golf ball down the grass to Asa. I remember Asa saying, Look at all these golfballs Marshall gave me! And I thought, Golf balls? Really?

95 Deerfield Road

Our house. I miss it too much to talk about it. Maybe someday.

97 Deerfield Road

This was where Bubba lived. Bubba does not need a last name in Portland, ME, and I don't think I've ever heard it. He has been the owner of Bubba's Sulky Lounge for decades. (That's sulky as in horse racing, not as in The lounge is hurt and a little sullen over it.) The Sulky Lounge is hands-down the weirdest, wackiest bar I've ever been in, and believe me, I've done a longitudinal study on that and have a well-documented standard. I'd go on about the lounge decor, but words cannot describe. The place gets listed as a must-go on travel sites worldwide.

Shortly after we'd moved into Deerfield House, I was out in the yard and Bubba ambled over. He said, I'm Bubba and I've lived here 30 years. I said, I'm [Tapu] and I've lived here 3 days. Bubba thought that was damn funny and we instantly became friends.

Bubba is a man passionate about his hobbies: antiques, or really kitsch memorabilia (and now you have a hint—just a hint—about the lounge decor); and, sulky racing. Bubba runs his own racehorses at Scarborough Downs.

Bubba once showed me his finished basement with all its kitsch decor. There, in perfect condition, was a 1950's kitchen tiled in BakeLite. Even the ceiling was BakeLite. Red Bakelite. Blood. Red. Bakelite. To get an idea of how strange and wonderful (and grotesque and disturbing) this was, poke around the net for photos of BakeLite, sometimes written as Bake-a-Lite. You'll realize you've seen the stuff a million times, as it has a million uses. There's a big tragedy in the history of Bakelite. I'd read a book on it—that's how I knew what Bubba had there. I have no idea of what it could be worth. (Read: a lot... but you'd never be able to get it out of there without destroying it.)

99 Deerfield Road

The last house belonged to Breda. Breda was, oh, 70+. Dyed her hair jet black. Was not very social. Mostly stayed in the house.

Breda was not really on our radar until the day Asa, 4 or 5 at the time, came in and announced, Breda is mowing the lawn in her bathing suit. With furrowed brow I stepped out and looked down the street. Breda was not mowing the lawn in her bathing suit (silly boy); Breda was mowing the lawn in her bra and panties.

Bathing Suit*
Bra and Panties*
Well, hell. What to do? I loped down there to Breda's yard and she stopped the mower. I said, Breda, you've been out here a long time today. Why don't you go in, maybe change. your. clothes. and have something to drink?

Breda was perfectly amenable to that. I didn't know anyone to call for her. Maybe I should've called the police. Anyway, I did what I did and Breda had visitors regularly, so I knew someone would be there soon.

*  Wouldn't these have made nice flashcards to use with Asa? Oh well, you know hindsight....

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