The Towns Where I Was Born

I was never much of a Kennebunk kid despite growing up in Kennebunk. There are legion reasons for this. I lived just off the beach, which nobody does who is both in Maine and in their right mind at the same time. I had no car. I didn’t even have a cell phone until senior year. My high school was forty miles away from Kennebunk High, removing me from the necessity of familiarity.

Also, I was a nerdy, reclusive bastard. A perfect storm of isolation, and one to which I had very few objections.

But from time to time I find myself drawn into the Kennebunk world. Always with just the hint that I belong there, that I am returning from a long absence, that this is where I ought naturally to be.

On my most recent return to my absconded homeland I was interested to observe that there are now two Kennebunks.The first is made of the people who live here, who will likely continue to live here well down to time. That Kennebunk is always here. The second is made up of the people currently off at college, and it exists only during school holidays, when the boys are back in town.

The first Kennebunk has had plenty of time to grow into itself. It has well adapted. It knows its business. It now lives quite firmly at a particular local bar (Federal Jack’s, for those of you who are interested). It has made it its own, like the Athenians to the Parthenon, Yeats and Dowson to the Cheshire Cheese,  Papillon his cell, ad plenum.

The second has had less time to evolve as a single organism, its life so often interrupted by the demands of semesters and study. So it still behaves as it did in high school.

I discovered this last night when Hrothgar and I tried to go to a bar to get a drink. The first bar we tried was lastcalled at 1030. Only one option thus remained to us. So we went to Fed’s, and though it was still serving, I found that between Alcohol and Me there was an unfortunate impediment in the form of My Entire Middle School. Comma, wasted.

Misanthropic bastard that I am, and not yet prepared for the slings and arrows of outrageous reunionining, I decided I would rather gargle asphalt chunks from the road below than wade into such a mass of messy humanity. Hrothgar agreed that we should look about us for some less excruciating way to draw a drink.

We ended up calling Fappy, which concluded with us, as we knew it would, ending up at a Party.

It was at the house of one of the Perkleton Thugs. It was in the suburbs. It was within walking distance of Kennebunk High. The Parent’s Weren’t Home. So it was in a house, people standing in the kitchen between the refrigerator and the shiny wood cabinets, or down in the little basement in the big couch on the big carpet in front of the big TV.

It was like high school. Except with slightly more facial hair.

Each of these people, I was sure, had grown up a great deal since high school. As individuals they had gone off and moved on and matured and no few of them matriculated too. Yet as a group they had not had much chance to progress. Just a few weekends, here and there, spread out over near four years of collegiate reprobation. As a group, then, they might as well have been a month after graduation, still smoking High School out of their system and wondering nervously about the Present and its myriad.

So we stood there and drank and we chatted and stank and we giggled and smalltalked and beer. For what else we had as a flavor or fad we could not make use of it here. And we all met each other’s eyes to make sure we were recognized, to see there that we still were who we were. There was a might to our repose, frought with the tension that we’d chose to make ourselves all homeless, disinterred.

I thought it was particularly telling when, sitting in the basement with a few people, I was suddenly joined by the entirety of the party from upstairs. They were carrying all the alcohol that we had. “Now it’s a party, at least,” I thought aloud. But alas that it was not to be.

“The cops,” I heard whispered. “The cops.” “The cops!”

“The cops are here?”

“Quiet – cops!”

So quiet we were, and silent, and still, just hiding there with the booze hidden under the table or clutched whiteknuckled to our chests.

We listened for the sounds of approaching jackboots. We waited in hard tension for our fate.

Then, “You know guys,” said I, but was cut off.

“SHHH!” assailed me. Don’t you know? “The cops!”

“But we’re not doing anything illegal,” I said.


We were all over 21. We were drinking, sure. Our beer. In a private home. To which we had been invited by an adult who lived there. Or at least who did during school vacations.


Slowly the party drifted back upstairs and returned to its appropriate head of froth. There were no cops. Not that, of course, it mattered. There was tension in the rooms, but not that which exists between miscreants and those who’ve come to arrest them. The tension, if I may be so bold, was between us and us – or rather, the fear that there was tension between them – which would mean, therefore, that the two were not the same.

That we in this group were not ourselves. That this was no longer who we were. That the whole was less than the sum of its parts. That we could go home – but didn’t want to?

I left soon thereafter.


~ by davekov on 30 December 2009.

One Response to “The Towns Where I Was Born”

  1. I felt bad that you didn’t stick around, until I found out that you were doing this instead.

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