Ogunquit, ME – “Will Drink for Lobsters” -Jonathan’s – August 27, 1999

The rocky coast of Maine was exquisite. Fog sat patiently above the water while tiny children in polka-dot swimsuits waded. They jumped into the air in ecstatic synchronized dances and screamed with glee. Moby crept slowly up the east coast on Route 1. Kenny slept, McRae stared out “Bart” the blurry patch, Soucy studied the map, I typed this entry, and as usual, Delucchi drove. The 70-mile trip from New Hampshire to Maine was a creeper for two reasons.

  1. Traffic was a nightmare. Throngs of people claim Ogunquit as their weekend getaway.
  2. We had to time interviews with rest stops.

You may not know this, but most touring band interviews take place from payphones in the middle of nowhere. Today, we had to wait outside a payphone for half an hour so I could do an on-air radio interview WMVY to promote our show in Martha’s Vineyard. At noon we were passing through a toll booth when Soucy (with his stealthy birdwatcher’s eye) spotted a pay booth on the side of the road. Excitedly, he pulled out the map, “This might be the last time we’re near a phone for the next hour,” he reported. Delucchi pulled up 50 feet from the toll plaza and I inspected the phone to make sure it had a dial tone. I camped out directly in front of the booth to ensure nobody snagged it when 12:30 rolled around. I tried to catch some rays but mostly caught exhaust and stray dirt flying off accelerating cars.

At the time of the interview, I opened the booth’s accordion-style doors and wedged myself inside. It was splattered with some brown beverage—coffee or Coke, who knows. I’d come prepared. I had $20 bucks of quarters wrapped in a bandana which made me look like a cartoon bank robber from the 50s but I’d done my math. A ½ hour call to Martha’s Vineyard from Maine was gonna cost .75¢ for the first minute and .35¢ each additional minute for a grand total of approximately $10.15. Hearing was a challenge with truckers changing gears, 18-wheelers screeching to pay the toll, and the boys playing Frisbee and cleaning out the cooler in the background. Frequently an automated voice would interrupt the DJ: “Please, deposit an additional one dollar and five cents for the next three minutes,” it would say and I’d embarassedly fumble with my bandana, fish out the funds, and apologize profusely.

The next interview at 2:00 took place in a shack called “The Road Kill Restaurant.” Where a payphone was stuck on a wall near the bar. “Come on Eileen” was playing pretty loudly and I plugged one ear to hear the interviewer’s questions. The smell of fried food clung to the walls, and the yellow, mafia-style lighting etched a sort of sad ambivalence into my conversation which otherwise I thought went well enough.

We were exhausted when we finally arrived at Soucy’s cousin Fritz’s house. Fritz and his wife, Tammy met us at the door and proudly announced they’d been drinking alcoholically in preparation for our arrival. We wondered what Soucy told them that would lead them to sacrifice their livers for our pilgrimage until they explained that for every $40 spent on booze at their local watering hole, they scored one free lobster at something called “Lobster in the Rough.”

“I hope you’re hungry,” Tammy rubbed her hands. Together, they’d managed to secure 16 lobsters in 3 months—since Soucy told them we might be stopping by—and probably damaged their bodies beyond repair just for our picnic. The least we could do was don a bib, crack a claw, butter up our fingers, and listen to the ripe stories Fritz and Tammy earned in pursuit of our lobster feast. With a belly full of beer and crustaceans, I raised a toast, “Here’s to Fritz and Tammy, their lobsters, their watering hole, and their livers for hosting us up here in beautiful Maine.”

Reader interactions

2 Replies to “Ogunquit, ME – “Will Drink for Lobsters” -Jonathan’s – August 27, 1999”

  1. I absolutely love that story. “Will drink for Lobsters”, is classic Maine. All it needs is a guy giving directions saying: You can’t get there from here.

    Who would have thought that a Pay-Phone would date us so much? I asked my seven year old granddaughter if she knew what it was. She told me, oh yea, I saw one in London last year when we were on vacation. Dr. Who would be proud of her! ( I think she used a red one at Luckett Vinyards, Nova Scotia, too)

    1. Thanks Albert. I know! Pay phones. How did they disapear over night and where did they go?

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