If I were to ask you where you thought the photo above was taken (and you didn’t know I was in Flint for my mother’s birthday) what would you say? The Thames near Windsor Castle? Some other pastoral setting perhaps, the folding chairs and picnic blankets the harbinger of a string quartette on a barge, or a crew race?
It’s actually the Cass River in Frankenmuth, Michigan. I was uncomfortably full of fried chicken and potato cakes and this incredibly amazing cranberry sauce with unidentifiable, bittersweet chunks when I took the photo. My nephew Sean and I talked about the Frankenmuth experience last night as we ate (gorged). It’s one of those things that are impossible to describe properly unless you’ve been there, and once you’ve been there it becomes a term of art. Like Burning Man.
There are lederhosen involved.
For a Michigander (or at least a Flintonian) Frankenmuth is synonymous with overindulgence in faux-Bavarian splendor. It is the ultimate destination for special occasions, or after a trip to Bronners Christmas Wonderland: a restaurant so large and busy they use crowd control stanchions to manage the hungry hoards. Cheery, slap-dancing wait staff manhandle massive trays teetering with “family style” carbohydrates, through impossibly narrow openings between tables, concertina playing musicians and untethered children. And the food just keeps coming…
Do you remember the scene in The Grinch when he’s the toastmaster at the Whovilation and he’s judging the pudding contest and people are stuffing food into his mouth and he’s got it running down his face and all over his festive sweater and he says, “Is that all you’ve got”?
It’s like that.
Jon Jon says, “You beg them to stop. You plead, because it is so addictive and so good, and you will eat it if it’s put in front of you, but they don’t listen, and just when you feel all sweaty and your heart is pounding and you are done, they pop up in one of those felt hats with the feather and say, ‘Sorbet?’”
This morning I feel hung-over… But I’m not. Bring on the fireworks.
Happy Sober 4th of July.