This week Mark and I are on Martha’s Vineyard and for me vacation usually starts when we board the ferry. I feel like I’m severing ties and finally making my getaway. But these days, that deep breath that exhales all the tension takes a bit longer to come.
For dinner we join friends, Peter and Gindy, at the Red Cat Kitchen in Oak Bluffs, a funky place that has good food and a décor that is uniquely theirs: collections and groupings that catch your eye at different times during the evening; seltzer bottles displayed in a makeshift cabinet; arrangements of old glass bottles in a weathered window frame; paintings and skulls that seem to appear from nowhere, illuminated by the vividly colored nooks and crannies that reflect their blush into the room; and the iconic local flowers, joyously at their peak, adorning the recesses. And then there’s the television next to the bar that seems most ordinary until you notice that the movie Jaws is playing.
All this combines to create a warm and inviting space that has so much personality you can’t help but anticipate what’s ahead—the food.
The menu also puts a smile on your face:
To start, we order a beet salad that has the sweetness beets offer and a healthy dose of spice that is so unusual you can’t help but take another bite to really appreciate the permutation of those flavors. We share a plate of “The Best Tomatoes in the World” that are delicious. (I just have to say, as I have in past posts, August tomatoes are the best.)
I order the Big-Ass Seared Scallops. Delicious! Perfectly crisp on the outside and lusciously succulent on the inside. Each bite reveals how juicy the meat is. My point is this place is entertaining and their unique style makes each dish a discovery for our taste buds.
As I delight in my food, my eyes wander to the television, and as much as I try to ignore the movie, I’m transfixed: the shark is approaching and panic is in the air.
My friends have noticed my sudden lack of interest in our conversation, but I can’t tear my eyes away from the action. “I’ve never seen Jaws!” I announce in an attempt to explain my uncouth behavior. That starts the explanation that Jaws was filmed on Martha’s Vineyard and we segue into the lore that accompanies such an event.
“Did you know that they filmed the beach scene in March?”
“March? But it’s freezing in March. How did they do that?”
“I don’t know, but I guess they’re actors and that’s what they are getting paid for.”
Now we all are looking at the screen. Except for Peter; he’s watching me.
Peter, a filmmaker, has seen this movie before, more than once. Instead of watching Jaws, he is far more entertained by my reaction to the drama. “Honestly,” he says, “it’s just as good as the scene in the Frank Capra movie Sullivan’s Travels where you watch people looking at the screen. All you see is their reactions. The experience is wonderful.”
I remember the Life magazine photo of a theater full of faces all wearing the same paper glasses to watch a 3D movie. And understand there is something fascinating about being the observer of observers. Nevertheless, I think he’s kidding and a bit crazy to be so enamored with my reactions, but the movie has captured me again and I’m too gone to be self-conscious . . . until I notice Peter laughing.
But as the shark speeds toward our boat, I am once again riveted. I squirm, my gaping mouth getting wider and wider as the shark approaches! From my place in the boat in the ocean, I hear distant laughter: Peter. He’s clicking away with his camera, but I am glued to the screen.
Peter, Gindy, and Mark resume their conversation.
“Don’t tell me what happens. Please!” I beg from my spot in the middle of the ocean. I cannot bear the thought of losing the tension of the moment.
And then it’s over. Exhausted by the fight, I inhale the wine. “That’s amazing,” I sigh.
They looked at me and say almost in unison. “Wait till you watch it with the sound effects!”
I just shake my head in amazement and that’s when I feel the breath that releases the tension—the breath I’ve been waiting for that tells me I’m now on vacation.
What about you?
Does your vacation begin when you start your journey or when you get there?
How do you know?
Let me know; we’d love to hear. Join the conversation.
“Famous, friendly, and family-owned Menemsha Galley, a gem of a 52 year old home cookin’ eatery. Famous lobster rolls and chowder, fresh swordfish sandwiches, fresh angus burgers and Galley fries, salads, vegetarian type specials are offered daily at reasonable prices. Enjoy your meal on the sweet back porch with sunset views at the head of the harbor…explore the quaint little Menemsha Fishing Village and famous beach.”
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