What Happens in Salem (on Halloween)

31 Oct

What happens in Salem…Stays in Salem?

Not so much.  Two years ago, I visited Salem the weekend before Halloween. It was a great misadventure.  Before we left on our adventure, I had a bit of a breakdown at the gym.  Stressed out by my new graduate program, by Open Enrollment at work, by spending the weekend with new friends, by my boyfriend at the time, I decided the solution was to run. But once I started running, I couldn’t stop.  It wasn’t healthy, it’s not an experience I plan on ever repeating, but I ran a lot.  Like many more miles than I run now preparing for a marathon.  

And then I showered and headed to my friends’ house for our Salem trip.  No breakfast. The sugar low began.

Maybe it was all my fault. Maybe that first careless step led to the series of misadventures that happened. Or maybe I really am a magnet for unfortunately random experiences?

In Salem, we admired the crazy costumes, the Halloween tourist traps, the ghostly decorations.  We visited a bike shop since I was searching for a road bike.  My friend got subjected to a very long tirade by the bike store workers about how much they hate Salem, Halloween, and anyone who comes to Salem for Halloween.  The rest of us slowly backed out of the shop door, and she was still standing there being scolded.  Great bike store service.

By about 2pm, we were starving. Ok, they were hungry. I was starving. So we found a restaurant that did not have an hour long wait (most of them did) and we admired the architecture of the old town hall and sitting in the rafters where bands used to play.  We knew something was up the first time the waitress came over and knelt down so she was on eye-level with us (always a bad sign, “the surgeon squat”) and told one of us that our sandwich couldn’t be made.  They’d run out of the ingredients.  Okay.  An exchange was made.

About 30 minutes later, I announced that I should probably go downstairs and help make our sandwiches.  We hadn’t ordered anything hot that needed to be cooked.  Just some basic sandwiches.  How hard is that?

We assumed that the exchanged sandwich was also out of ingredients when the waitress again took “the surgeon squat” pose. The news was much worse.  The cooking staff had revolted.  They had closed the kitchen doors and refused to serve any more food to any more people that day. Literally, on strike.

So, at 3:30 pm, we were again on the street.  Hungry.  Which probably explains why we ended up at a convenience store Subway wolfing down 6 inch sandwiches at 4pm somewhere between Salem and Boston.

And why we were devastated to arrive at The Cheesecake Factory at 6pm and learn that we had a 2 hour wait for our table. Sitting on the steps playing Scrabble on our phones has never been more unenjoyable. I’m still blaming my low blood sugar on the fact that I used words like “urine” and “doggy” in that game.

I’m blaming my low blood sugar for the fact that I voluntarily left our table to accost our waiter and ask for a second bread bowl. I must have looked desperate. Because the bread bowl wasn’t delivered to our table but smack on the plate in front of me.  Embarrassing? How about when the butter rolled out of the bread bowl onto the floor and I dived to get it and the waiter grabbed my hand to stop me and I was sitting there, starving, in a Cheesecake Factory, holding a waiter’s hand, while everyone stared at me, with my bread bowl.

If that’s not a reason to stop over-exercising, I don’t know what is.  And I’m blaming my low blood sugar for the fact that I ate cheesecake for the first time in my life and I finished it even though I detest cheesecake.

For some people, Halloween conjures up images of candy and costumes.  For me, it conjures up images of hunger and awkward waiter hand-holding. Salem might have a creepy rich heritage and lots of wacky Halloween decorations.   No room in the inn?  Doesn’t sound as bad as being the town with no food.


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