Hardscrapple and the unsung crooners of Hatboro.
What brought me to Hatboro, PA, was a friendship hecho in México, at an old, dear friend's wedding in the recesses of jungly Mérida, three hours from Cancún. (Thank god.)
That was over a year ago. Within an hour of deplaning in Mérida, I'd regained my passable fluency in Spanish and mezcál. When I reached the bar where the wedding party was partying, I chucked my carry-on in a corner and ran to the dance floor -- dripping sweat already is a great excuse to salsa.
If you'd licked any one of us, we'd have tasted of salt and lime.
Lindsey and I met that night and hit it off straight away. We sat next to each other the next day at the nuptials, which took place at sunset on a several-hundred-year-old estate.
The air was balmy. The guests were buzzed. The bride's sister began passing out pre-emptive Kleenex. "No thank you," I waved them away. "I've been dead inside since 2007."
The incredibly good-looking people around me laughed. Everyone was the kind of attractive that unsettles me with a sense of trespassing. But gosh they're pretty.
Soon enough, I found succor in a hammock where I passed out in my bathing suit after a swim (read: drinking in a pool and gossiping). Lindsey crawled into the hammock with me in her party dress and curled up in the crook of my arm. I kissed her on her forehead and we napped for who knows how long until I shivered myself awake and got up to put my dress back on.
We liked each other very much.
So much, that Lindsey insisted I be her guest as I traveled through Pennsylvania on my way from Virginia to New York.
As I pulled up to her townhouse in Hatboro, it was odd to think that almost exactly a year ago we were in a different country, laughing at tarantulas and bats and essentially living in a magazine for several days.
Hatboro, believe it or not, is not like Mexico.
It's a blue-collar-and-rising town, and is wonderfully, splendidly, heart-burstingly free of pretense.
Unlike that sentence.
Lindsey, her beau/brother of the aforementioned bride, and I wandered around the bars on a Friday night, settling in to spectate a karaoke night at one semi-dive that was clearly a place where locals go to let go.
I mean really let go.
Two old men had a sing-off, and one strapping long-hair belted out Black Crowes while his friend sat at the bar like a proud parent, sporting $5 flannel and pouring his beer into the characteristic underbite of a rough-hewn, denim-forever townie.
Any arresting thoughts I had about manual labor were pushed away by the fact that I was only there for a day.
We got breakfast at Daddypop's the next morning. I ordered scrapple (don't) and eggs over-something, an order I always fuck up and want desperately not to. My pride won out, though, and the yolk was on me.
Yes, that is Guy Fieri. Yes, that makes me like the place even more.
The saving grace of any American diner is its guarantee to have decaf drip hot and ready at all times. It was served in the usual infallible white mug, half-an-inch thick and guarding the brown sea inside like a fortress.
As I sipped the coffee and didn't cringe at the Sinatra coming full force out of the jukebox, it hit me that I wasn't hung over. Drinking on a coast after living at altitude makes you feel invincible (i.e. 26) again, and the amount I can drink at sea level would have me at knee-level back in Denver.
For a second, last night's local crooners popped into my mind: I wondered if they were hung over, and if they'd be shuffling into the diner in a few hours to nurse greasy eggs and throbbing noggins.
We stepped outside to say goodbye and I was grateful for the fresh air and clear head: I was steeling myself for the drive through New Jersey and the off-color skies that would herald my nearing New York.
I hear it's a helluva town, but it doesn't have Lindsey.