I was sitting on the deck of a waterfront restaurant, enjoying a brilliant summer day and sipping some freshly squeezed lemonade.

My eyes wandered to a nearby table, where a man was pulling his loose-fitting T-shirt up toward his shoulders.

I watched in fascinated horror. Was he disrobing? No, the T-shirt stayed on his shoulders, although most of his (I would estimate) 75-year-old back was now bare. He was tapping on his left shoulder, as if he thought something was there. His wife, seated next to him, was leaning toward him for a closer look.

Meanwhile, their server was standing — patiently and stone-faced — awaiting their order.

It might seem a little early for me to start complaining about summer behavior in Maine, but I assure you it is not.

I’m not going to blame the tourists. I’d like to. That’s convenient. Plus, I don’t like them.


Alas, Mainers are willing and able to act like inconsiderate jerks while doing some day trip rusticating.

Maybe the presence of so many demanding, speeding out-of-staters clogging our scenic byways and restaurants — not to mention supermarkets — irritates us to the extent that we forget our manners. Maybe.

We spend most of the year not having to wait in line for anything.

Whatever the reason, bad behavior was on full display last week. Before lunch, Paul and I had traveled up Mount Battie to enjoy the gorgeous view. There were quite a few cars parked at the summit, yet it was peacefully quiet. Perhaps the people gazing at the bay were reflecting on Edna St. Vincent Millay’s famous lines: “All I could see from where I stood Was three long mountains and a wood; I turned and looked another way, And saw three islands in a bay.”

“All I could see from where I stood, Was three long mountains and a wood; I turned and looked another way, And saw three islands in a bay.”

Looking west from Mount Battie at sunset. File photo by Josh Christie

Then, there was a cackle and a loud voice erupted into the air: “I can’t hear you! Let me adjust this thing!”


A car was parked on the edge of the road, at a prime viewing location. A man was tinkering with a phone and an antenna on his car. Was he trying to set up some kind of alternative communication system? Maybe he was a doomsday prepper who wanted to be ready for a blackout.

Whatever he was doing, he was doing it loudly, which included berating his wife. “Radiohead” thought closing the left rear door, where his wife was sitting with her legs outside the vehicle, would improve transmission. So he ordered her to move to the other side of the car, which was facing the sun.

“But it’s too hot over there,” she said plaintively.

The last I saw of them, she had moved.

By that time, the spell of the perfect, peaceful mountaintop morning had been broken.

Oh, well, it was time for lunch.


Being early birds, we snagged a prime table on the restaurant deck. The small area soon filled up. The people at the next table seemed perfectly fine, until one of them ordered a sandwich. She wanted fries with it, and was told the restaurant didn’t serve them.

“But all the sandwiches come with chips,” the server said brightly.

“Oh, no,” said the French fry aficionado. “No chips! Nooooo chips!”

She swung her arms in front of her to emphasize the point.

I wanted to lean over to say, “I’ll take yours, if you don’t want them.”

The strip show a few tables over began a couple of minutes later. I couldn’t believe such high drama was happening before the Fourth.


“Itchy Back,” as I came to think of him, was clearly disturbed by something on his shoulder. Did he feel like he’d been bitten by something, a mosquito, perhaps? Surely that wouldn’t warrant baring his back in a public space.

A tick — now that would be concerning. However, since we were sitting in downtown Camden, I didn’t think that was a likely explanation.

Maybe (and now I was grasping at straws) he had been, for whatever reason, rubbing his shoulder and felt a lump that might be a normal mole, but that he now worried was skin cancer. He had to have his wife look at it right then and there.

I could sympathize. I worry about moles, too. However, if I lifted my shirt in a restaurant for Paul to check it out, I could be arrested.

Eventually, the shirt came down, the party’s order was placed (there was another couple sitting at the table) and then Itchy Back ran off to the bathroom to have a look at The Thing himself. I assume it was nothing, because the group did not attract my attention for the rest of its, and my, meal.

I did have a bright spot that day. At a corner table sat a family, including two children. One had a mop of black hair and reminded me of myself at age 10 or so. The child was served a big glass of the freshly squeezed lemonade. As it was placed before her, she smiled and rubbed her hands together in anticipation.

What a perfect encapsulation of the best things about summer. It’s an image I’ll be hanging onto as I navigate all the craziness.

Liz Soares welcomes email at [email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: