Friday, August 8, 2008

40 hours for 40 years

I am posting this blog for those readers who know my wife, Denise. They know her as a funny, sweet, trustworthy, understanding, patient and wise individual--the type of person you might confide in or leave your children with for no apparent reason. She is beguiling and beaming and beautiful...blah blah blah.

What people don't realize is that she is also capable of conniving, duplicitous deceit. She can lie to her husband with an apathetic shrug and con an entire restaurant staff into complicity with her nefarious schemes. Oh yes, she may wear a veil of sweetness, but beneath it lies a wicked visage of trickery.

Here's how I recently came to be the weak and wobbly pawn in her masterful, crafty endgame.

Last week, I innocently agreed to cook some salmon for an event to raise awareness of the Tongass Refuge in Alaska and its delicious denizens. When I reported to Denise my plans, she replied, "Nope. You have to cancel." After a brief, futile argument, I realized that she was up to something, and that I should not meddle in areas I do not fully understand. Of course, the back of my mind was whispering to me that I had a 40th birthday coming up, and that I especially shouldn't meddle for fear that I wouldn't live to see that birthday.

Turns out, I did the right thing by delegating--at the last minute, sadly--the salmon event to our server/host/day manager (and talented food writer and erstwhile chef) Paula. To have missed the surprise birthday of a lifetime for the admittedly sad salmon situation would have been a pity indeed.

On Thursday morning, the rooster crowed extra early and Denise and I were off (I knew at this point that we were going somewhere and that I wouldn't return until late Friday night.) We hopped in our car and took a northerly tack, leading me to believe that my wife had planned an overnight trip to Ogunquit or Portland, perhaps even Rockland. But then why were we up at the crack of dawn, slamming coffee and scurrying about to leave by 7:15? We pulled into a parking lot at the Wells train and bus terminal only to find my father waiting with some luggage in an unmarked van. (Alright, it was his forest green minivan, but "unmarked" lends the story a little intrigue, eh?)

We drove past Ogunquit and Kennebunk, my groggy but sincere line of questioning meeting only crooked deception as we flew by two possible destinations. As we pulled into the Portland jetport, I began to expand my range of possible destinations to include JetBlue's repertoire--which in my fertile imagination included Napa Valley, Bali, Paris and Marrakesh. Denise had been hounding me for months about making her a top ten list of restaurants I'd like to eat at. ...chapter 2 coming soon (I have to smoke some fish right now!)