A View from the Kitchen – Work Hard, Play Harder

Not being a hypocrite can be hard.

Take this column, for example. Feeling overwhelmed on Martha’s Vineyard (I know, poor me), failing to relax on our annual family vacation, I text-requested my magazine boss to let me have this issue off — perhaps instead posting: Plath’s Gone Fishing. I need a vacation, I may have whined — he quickly reminding me that my last column was about, well, me actually having gone fishing.  

“… Don’t let that mindless thing get the best of you,” responded Mr. Sensitivity.

He asked whether it was a time challenge or the lack of an idea that was troubling me. I’m pretty sure he knew it wasn’t the idea thing — I can fire off 500 words about almost anything with my eyes closed. In fact, I often wake up with a story streaming through my mind, eyes opening at first light … seeking my at-the-ready bedside pen! (No typing into the phone from bed. No phone in my safe place. Just sayin’.)

The fact was, I had already begun a piece about the fun aspects of restaurants and bars, beyond the food, beverage and hospitality —thus far having failed to dedicate the time it deserved, between negotiations, new restaurant initiatives, planning for the immense Lowell Folk Festival and, oh yeah, packing for our post-festival vacation.

“So then …” according to Peggy McFarland, a fellow writer and my GM at Moonstones, “… he out-Plathed Plath?” (She reveled in that concept, by the way.)

Peggy knows all too well, as I have preached for many years, that there is no such excuse as “not enough time.” I rail on: “If you slept last night, there was time. You made a choice.”  

(Now, I’m guessing I maybe know what you’re thinking at this moment, and I feel safe in saying you’re not wrong.)  

But if not today, then tomorrow. That’s my general skew. The struggle for me personally is less about time and more about focus — it’s whether, in the time I do have, my mind can get my mind under control! (Queue Dave Matthews: “My head won’t leave my head alone…”) Also, I get distracted. I like shiny things. In general, I say yes. When Johnny jumped off the bridge, you bet I jumped, too. It’s now called “fomo.”

In this particular moment of weakness, “tomorrow” would include an early morning tee time at the stunning Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs, followed by an impromptu and glorious midday nap — sheets and shades drawn tightly with the cabin AC on full blast. That blissful snooze would precede an afternoon drive “up island” to the serenity of Aquinnah, aka Gay Head, and the clay cliffs — the most beautiful beach I have ever been on. Following two hours of relentless sea, sand and waning light, we’d be making the pink-sky drive a few miles along the shimmering, boat and stone wall-speckled coast to the tiny fishing village of Menemsha for the sunset and our annual end-of-vacation lobster dinner at nostalgic Home Port Restaurant. 

If you, like Peggy, are thinking, “Hmm, sounds like he surely has the time,” once again, you’d be right. Choices. There’s always tomorrow then, yet each one repeatedly managing to obscure my deadline!

With this year’s vacation cut short by a blooming love, farmers in fact, we were hopping an early ferry that next day to begin the three-hour trip back to Lowell for a two-hour stopover — to swap beach clothes for mountain-slash-wedding attire and fire off a few emails, my life’s copilot also squeezing in the mani-pedi-hair appointment hat trick as I high-stepped through each restaurant gleefully chirping my presence and positivity: “Hello, how are you, hiya, I’m Scott, everything looks great” … while also reloading the cooler. (Ownership has its privileges!)

Then, it was back in the car for another two-hour drive to Waterville Valley, destined for yet another destination wedding — this welcome trend a column for another day. (Mountains, farms, barns, lodges, bonfires, log cabins, cows in the meadow, seating assignments stuck into apples. … So happy to say so long to windowless function rooms and baked stuffed chicken!)

Did I mention that my clever magazine boss suggested I write about the benefits of being busy: “You’re always busy doing something, be it playing hard or working hard, so that’s no excuse.” Thanks Capt. Obvious. Sigh.

After two late nights of matrimonial-related celebration, trying to keep pace with “da yewts,” my wife and I made the sleepy drive home, so ready for our own bed. Along the way, we stopped at the popular Tilt’n Diner for some comfort-based sustenance and Cracker Barrel-like kitsch.

At the front of the line, Hula-Hoops hung from the host stand, inviting guests to give one a try while waiting for a table. Fun,
I thought, while wondering whether gyrating my substantial body in the lobby would get me seated quicker. This might actually make the next column … time permitting, of course.  

Scott Plath, along with his wife Kathleen, owns Cobblestones of Lowell and moonstones, in Chelmsford, Mass. Scott possesses a deep well of humorous and insightful stories, which are available on this website.


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