Sunday, October 19, 2008

For whom the lobster rolls

As we drove north on the interstate last weekend, whipping through states like we were campaigning, my wife Kara asked, “Don’t you want to know where we’re going?”

Cape Cod? Vermont? The North Pole?” I guessed. Truthfully, I didn’t want to know. We’d just unloaded our puppy for a long weekend with our friends Julie and Sergey, whose Rottweiler met the news, and the constant nips on the face, with an impressive, if resigned, stoicism. All I needed to know was that, for just one weekend, responsibility was something that other chumps (namely Julie and Sergey) had to worry about.

Kara surprised me on my thirty-first birthday with an announcement that we were going on an adventure, which was perfect, because a thirty-first birthday needs a little spicing up. Some birthdays don’t need any help. For instance, the twenty-first birthday provides its own fun, as society turns over the keys to everything but its rental cars. A decade later, though, the thirty-first birthday does little more than bring you one year closer to your first colonoscopy.

It wasn’t until we’d crossed the Maine state line that Kara revealed that she’d booked us at a bed and breakfast in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, a beautiful little coastal town that happened to be one of the few places in the world where lobster was a verb.

Upon our arrival, Kara and I quickly set to work expressing our appreciation to the locals for all the lobsters they’d lobstered. At our first dinner, where a lobster dinner with two sides cost $12.99 each, we realized that not being as gluttonous as possible would have been a sin.

Over the next two days, we divided our time evenly between exploring the rough coastline, taking pictures of lighthouses and stuffing down as many unfortunate crustaceans as we could get our claws on.

Driving through a small town called Wiscasset, we passed a roadside stand called “Red’s Eats” and decided to stop for a quick bite, as it was getting late for lunch and we didn’t want to waste daylight sitting in a restaurant. We hesitated as we walked up, though; the line for Red’s wrapped around the stand and down the sidewalk like they were giving out last year’s 401(k) balances.

“Is this place good?” I asked the last man in line.

“It’s an institution. They have the best lobster rolls in Maine,” he said.

The guy in front of him turned around and said, “I came 3,500 miles to eat one of these. I read a newspaper article in Los Angeles about this place, and decided I had to have one.”

The two people in front of them nodded and said they had come from Colorado and Nova Scotia. Red’s Eats, it seemed, had inspired more expeditions than Antarctica.

Kara and I decided we couldn’t miss out and quietly stepped into line, which scuffled along almost imperceptibly. We looked at our watches and worried about wasting the day. Across the street, a nearly identical lobster roll shack sat lonely and unloved, a high school kid propped up on his elbows in the window, waiting to take the orders that never came.

“Maybe we’re involved in a sociology experiment right now,” I whispered to Kara. “They’re seeing how long we’ll stand here.”

“Yeah, maybe they don’t even have lobster rolls here,” she said. “We’ll get to the window, and there’ll just be a couple of grad students with clipboards and stopwatches.”

But sure enough, they did have lobster rolls at Red’s Eats. When they handed us our tray, it looked like they’d used a backhoe to drop a mountain of lobster meat on top of two poor, defenseless hot dog buns.

I’m still not sure whether those lobster rolls would have justified a pan-continental odyssey, but I’d gladly stand around and complain for forty-five minutes for another one.

You can serve Mike Todd with mixed greens and a baked potato at


  1. Come on Mike, you gave credit to me and Julie but you didn't even name Yvette! She's still getting slobber off of herself...

  2. Good stuff, Mike. It's Intern Andy haha. I started a new blog that I think I'll stick with for a bit.

  3. Sergey -- As soon as Yvette starts reading the column, I'll start mentioning her by name.

    Andy -- Nice, dude. Good to see you back. Looks like a quality blog you started there - I'm followin' Zoltrog like a Narweenian glixmatrope. Maybe even more.

  4. Did they put the lobster rolls in a big tank and let you pick your own? Now I'd DEFINITELY go on a odyssey for THAT...

  5. JL -- Ha! I think that's how they used to do it before they realized it was making the buns all soggy.

  6. Wow, that's quite a sandwich. I can barely see the bun. Is that an entire lobster claw protruding on the left?

  7. Allover -- Yeah, I don't even know why they mess with the bun at all. It's like an umbrella in a drink - I think you're just supposed to toss it out. Not that I order drinks with umbrellas in them. Tiny plastic swords are much cooler.