Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Hampton Beach at the End of Time

Labour Day, Beth, Lily (the dog), and I travelled North to the hallowed consumption of Hampton Beach. Hampton Beach is the expressive pimple on New Hampshire’s modest sea coast. Besides a wide and inviting beach, the place offers lots of scuzzy attractions. An actual ocean looms on the wet side, with evocations of grease on the other side. Hello,  American vista.

We hadn’t much aim to our journey but thought to let Lily see the ocean, and Hampton’s a close option. The ride up is pleasant, with salt marshes near the end.

The shoreline at Hampton Beach presents a wide and easy embrace. It seems a calm harbour with an expansive shelf of sand.  You will find across the road from that the smell of grease and the inflection of commerce. You are drawn, in your mufti of sloppy shorts and shirt, to the preening grub of consumption’s valour. That means shitty appeasement of dulled senses. Something greasy with extra cheese, please.

The arcades looked charged with electric fun tho I have never spent money in one. Cramped stores sold garish t-shirts that expressed empty sentiments. I mean the captions on the shirts were empty but also the totality of the devise of wearing such words (the saga of MAGA). As if we were all just shirts frozen in our tilted slogans.

We charged the debit card one dollar to park. Lily and her ilk were not welcome on the beach so we strolled some on the walkway. Lily had a continent of endeavor to sniff but we had to keep the leash short.

I did not mench that the grey clouds were wet in behavior. The last day of mercantile summer had a fizzle for an ending. The boardwalk was busy but the beach held few people. 

Driving along the strip, Beth saw an emporium dedicated to fried
dough, or *fry* dough as the sign would have it. This tripped memories of carnivals and state fairs. I went to get some.

I harbour no glowing memories of fried dough, but here it was in all its smell. Except that once it came time to pay, I needed Hard American Cash, of which I had none. I had to procure green stuff from Beth.

Beth took her dough neat, sans any of the TWENTY possible toppings. The last time I had fried dough, the options were sugar and cinnamon. Now the piqued connoisseur can choose peanut butter and jelly or even sauce and cheese. I went with what I knew, cinnamon and sugar.

Music emanated from a joint nearby. The singer regaled the crowd with a set list of Creedence Clearwater Revival songs, done all country-style. We could see him standing by the window of the place. He was alone but must’ve had a tape player to round out his band. The shift to country took much from the songs, made them crass and typical. The audience occasionally made bar crowd noise but the grimness of performance for both the singer and the audience was palpable. His job and their entertainment, straining to exist.

As we drove from the main strip we noticed that the sea wall now prevented any view of the sea, at least from a car.  This was new. Intimations of the sea encroaching on livelihood. C loser inspection showed that chunks of granite had been placed at the foot of the sea wall as a hedge against erosion. A curious red seaweed clung to the granite and swirled thickly in the surf. I would be loathe to step into that water tho I suppose people do.

Hampton Beach is by no means a large paradise but it is full to the brim. Shops and joints squeeze between the hotels and motels. This colony is a destination for the commercial energy that powers the turbine. The entertainment is pointless and that’s the point, at least so long as the turbine still spins. That it could all be swept into the sea does not seem possible tho it is quite likely. Here no future exists, just the smell of fry dough and the electric noise of arcades. Such, such the American endgame, and someone somewhere reaps a profit. In such stridency does the machinery work. When the ocean wipes this all away, the smell will linger.