Yum, yum

Friday 22 July 2014 — Sheltering in place — Birth Anniversary of Rev. William Spooner (1844) — See “spoonerism”

The German language, dear readers, routinely strings words together to coin a new multisyllabic word. My favorite is rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschafte. That would translate as the single English word “an-insurance-company-providing-legal-advice.”

My German language skills are very limited. The only other German word I know is gesundheit. Using them together would involve encountering a monolingual German insurance agent who happens to have a bad head cold. No, I don’t think I’ll ever have occasion to use rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschafte and gesundheit in the same sentence. Oh, wait. I just did.

I decided to invent a new word, as the Germans do. My new word is inspired by “snowbound.” Somebody invented that one in the early 1800s. Even here, where we tell those from “over the bridge” that it never snows on Cape Cod and that we play golf in January, “snowbound” is a well-used word. Truth be told, Cape Codders are sometimes snowbound. When the snowdrifts top four feet Cape Codders (like everyone else) simply stay home.

Well, it’s exactly the same in summer — except different. We are “sunbound.” Here’s why.

Firstly, there are many people of Irish descent on Cape Cod. We Irish tend to have very fair skin, thanks to the contribution of invading Viking hoards to our gene pool. Irish dare not venture outdoors in the summer without a broad-brimmed hat and a gallon of industrial-strength sunblock. Some Irish, they say, are so pale that they can’t even pass an open window in the month of August without risking second degree burns. “No sense going out,” we say at this time of year. “Too sunny.” 

I am 14 percent Viking. I get sunburned easily. Before they invented sunblock, I worked two summers as a lifeguard. It was painful. 

Another reason to stay home is traffic. Down at Dippin’ Donuts, the word is that there are more visitors than ever on Cape Cod this summer. There can be a line 20 cars long at the drive-up window — at 5:30 a.m.

Traffic is horrendous.  We say that every summer, of course, but this year it may well be true. The media reported that at the close of the Fourth of July weekend, traffic leaving the Cape was grid-locked from the bridges to the Orleans rotary (a 25-mile-long traffic jam). Some say the Cape actually sank three inches into the sea from the added weight that weekend, but these are unconfirmed reports.

The situation is exacerbated by road construction. It begins as soon as the winter weather breaks. There seems to be no coordination at all between the various contractors. We encounter detours on our detours and expect more detours after that. We drive in endless circles — often in the opposite direction from our destination. Sometimes, on the Cape, it’s true what they say: “You can’t get there from here.” God forbid your detour involves left-hand turns. You might as well bring a boxed lunch. And if it should happen to be a lousy beach day, Main Street will become a giant parking lot. Just be thankful cars are allowed on Main Street, even if you’re stuck in traffic. Sometimes the town will ban all vehicular traffic on Main Street so that some kind of fair might be held. “No sense going out,” we say. Cape Codders are sunbound.

The locals have come up with strategies to handle the situation; one is to take the back roads. With the invention of Google Maps, MapQuest, and other such conveniences, the secret shortcuts have become common knowledge. Now the back roads, too, are clogged. 

Another ploy is to observe the times of traffic surges — and then avoid them. This may mean that you will be on the road earlier in the morning or later at night. It involves not only the time of day but also the day of the week. It’s a complicated formula that takes years to master.

I recently had to cross the bridge. Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha has initiated a series of small group meetings with all priests on active duty. He invites six or seven priests of approximately the same age to come to his residence at noon. After a period of prayer, priests and bishop sit down for lunch. Afterwards, everyone moves to the sitting room across the foyer for an hour or so of open discussion. 

The bishop’s lunch program began with the oldest group of active priests, myself being among them. The younger priests, after all, have the benefit of time. We older men, not so much. It was a rare opportunity and well-worth crossing the bridge. And besides, traffic is light on Tuesday mornings. 

Understand, dear readers, that the travel for some of my classmates was much more arduous. For some, it involved an airplane piloted by Father Mike Nagle

Rarely do Cape Codders venture out in the summer, but always when the bishop invites you to lunch. Lunch, by the way, was delicious — Brazilian/Portuguese style. Besides Viking, I am also part Portuguese.

 “Yum, yum,” as Father Wallace always says.

Anchor columnist Father Goldrick is pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Falmouth.


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