Monday, March 28, 2011

Rites of Spring

My husband doesn't (or, rather, didn't) believe me.

I told him that going to Fat Boy's Drive-In (Yes, we have 1950s-style drive-in restaurants here!) was a rite of Spring here in Midcoast Maine.

He laughed as he climbed in the car to go to the drive-in for the opening last week.

When we got there (much later than I had hoped), there was a line of cars out on the street waiting for a spot. One look (or, was it a listen...?) at the two hungry children in the back and we knew it was not happening tonight.

Major disappointment for all. Even my husband. By now, he'd realized the truth -- it is a rite of Spring (later confirmed by headlines in the paper).We would return soon, we promised the sad little seven year old who had her heart set on eating a grilled cheese and lemonade in the car tonight.

If you haven't been to Fat Boys, you've got to try it. Just once. (Your arteries and waistline beg you, just once.) The drive-in opened in 1955 -- and it looks like a thing hasn't change (though I happen to know that in a Nor-easter a few years back, the coveted sign was destroyed - and now replaced with an identical, though much shinier, sign).

To be there for opening week/weekend is a gift. Okay, that's a totally ridiculous statement. It's not a gift. But, it is an awesome scene. A parking lot of people in their cars ready to embrace summer (even though it is still months away). But, the greasy food and warm-enough (or at least snow-free-enough) weather for waitresses to come to your car are signs of hope for Maine-rs who have been hunkered down for months.

While I'm well aware of this iconic institution - I'm really a newbie. I'd driven by it one zillion times, for certain. But, it wasn't until a decade ago when my Uncle Charlie introduced me to the place.

While we don't eat there but once or twice a year, I'm so glad to know about it -- it is such a classic scene. The minute you park your car, you are transported to the 50s. You find yourself desperately trying to find an oldies station to replace NPR. And, when the tray of burgers (or, crab rolls) and shakes shows up on the tray hanging from your car window, you are have expecting to catch a glimpse of the Fonz nearby. And, in a week where tragedy still looms in Japan and war is raging in the Middle East -- it is nice, if only for a minute, to escape to a different time.

PS. We did, in fact, make it back a few days later. And to prove how infrequently I let my girls eat fries, I've included this photo of my youngest nursing her fry...

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