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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Dinner by Lighthouselight

(There are only three certainties in life. Two of them are death, and Secondhand SCIENCE. I forget the third; it might be Donald Trump’s hairpiece. I’ll get back to you on that.

In the meantime, put off death and check the other thing for something far less sure: the latest post, about the uncertainty principle. It’s the most prison-film talk you’ll get in your science reading this week, I’m pretty certain of that.

Hey, maybe that was the third thing. Neat.)

Last weekend, the missus and I took off for a long weekend to celebrate.

(Celebrate what, exactly? Who the hell knows?

At our age, every week is the anniversary of something important or other, probably. Maybe it was twenty years since our first time sharing potato skins. I don’t know. Who am I, Cupid O’Remembercrap?)

Anyway, we went off to celebrate, part of which was a reservation to have dinner together inside a lighthouse.

“I expect next year I’ll be gifting her a poem scrimshawed onto whalebone or something.”

Because this is New England. That’s the sort of shit you do, if you live here long enough. I expect next year I’ll be gifting her a poem scrimshawed onto whalebone or something. Assuming the sea — or Pablo Sandoval — hasn’t swallowed me whole by then. Yar.

Now, this lighthouse thing is sort of a special deal. It’s an old “range light” in Newburyport, Mass., which sits in town near the marina — so it’s not perhaps as “lighthousy” as one might immediately imagine. If you have a picture in your head of some grump swaddled in overcoats and muttonchop sideburns trudging out a barren peninsula to Ye Olde Beacone Lighte, that’s not exactly what this is. There’s a Thai restaurant in the next building over, and a bar next door you can climb down and visit, if you have to pee.

“Lonely lighthouse”, this ain’t, is what I’m saying.

Technically, it’s no longer a lighthouse at all. A few years ago, they took the light and lens out of the fourth-floorish chamber, and replaced it with a single table, cushioned benches, two dozen battery-powered candles and a pile of menus from local restaurants. A party of two — or four, if you really enjoy each others’ laps — can rent the space for an evening, and have a fresh-delivered meal overlooking the bay, just in time for sunset. It’s pretty spectacular.

(Unless you’re afraid of heights. Or bays. Or sunsets. Then less spectacular, one would imagine. But still memorable.)

Because it’s necessarily “exclusive” — in the sense that no more than four people can exist in the space at one time without running out of breathing air — this is the kind of place that you’d usually like to keep a lid on. Don’t spread the word too far. Keep the riff-raff away, that sort of thing.

But what the hell. We’ve already been there, so what do I care? Knock yourself out. Honestly, it’s a ball.

(It was even named as one of the “Top 35 Things to Do” by Yankee Magazine, apparently. Which is the most non-specific and arbitrary list I believe I’ve ever heard of. Why 35, precisely? And why “things to do”? Was “stuff” already taken by Mumbling Teen Weekly?:

“Do you like stuff, and junk? Well, here’s 47 1/3 stuffs you might like, and junk.”

This is in no way meant to impugn the lighthouse. Yankee Magazine sounds like an idiot, is all.)

Of course, I can’t go anywhere on the planet without feeling self-conscious and uncomfortable — but I had my work cut out for me here. For most of the time, it was just me and my wife, and I’ve already too many enough dumb and awkward things around her to worry about one more. I could have come to dinner dolled up like “Captain” Danny Noonan from Caddyshack, and it wouldn’t have cracked my personal “Top 35 Idiot Moves My Wife Will Never Let Me Forget”.

Also, I would have been fabulous. And nautically fabulous, too, which is one of the best kinds.

Anyway, nothing we did up there made me uncomfortable. So by the entree course, I settled on feeling guilty about our host, who spent his evening taking our orders, running them to the restaurant, and schlepping the trays of takeout up a tiny spiral staircase and a ladder, through a three-foot hatch in the floor and up to us. They’ve “got it down to a science”, according to him, after a few years of dinner hosting — but damn, it seems like a lot of work. And stairs. And eventually, the poor guy’s going to catch a sleeve on the ladder and dump poached halibut all over his own head. If he hasn’t already.

In all, I think he made five trips, including the first where he led us up and set the table while we slid out a hatchway onto the outside porch. Or light-veranda or cat-fish-walk, or whatever the hell it’s called by old seamen on their “Top 35 Nautical Terms for Junk” lists. Any one of those trips would have been a nice workout for the week. But he made them all, and — judging by the logbooks previous visitors had filled out — somebody’s making those five or six trips, five or six nights a week on average.

Say what you like about lighthouse keepers. But they must have some pretty amazing glutes. Forget cracking walnuts; after a summer feeding people up there, you could probably solve a Rubik’s cube with your ass muscles.

(We didn’t ask our host for that trick. After five trips, it seemed a bit rude.)

At any rate, if you’ve always wanted to dine in a lighthouse, but thought you didn’t have the muttonchops for it, then maybe this is up your alley. And if not… well, there’s still that Thai place in the building next door. You won’t rock-hard up your glutes, maybe — but the satay chicken’s probably not bad. Definitely put it on your Top 35 Substances to Put in My Mouth list.

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