Something close to the floodwater of a tropical monsoon soaked this barrier island on Saturday, turning it into a day of looking out windows or otherwise braving the Bike Week traffic to browse off island in a Daytona bookstore. Experience proves that even in heavy rain, the visiting bikers are more comfortable traffic companions than the seniors snow birding from up north. The sight of so many motorcycles is still an eye-opener, long lines and clusters of rumbling Harleys easily outnumbering cars for once. And would it surprise anyone that the bikers are all considerate, law abiding drivers more quick to offer aid than recklessness? More than once I have heard that a good many who gather here each year for Bike Week are lawyers and doctors enjoying a week’s break from starched shirts and lab coats.
In wet weather or dry, looking through windows at ocean, sand and sky can be a rewarding pastime, but sometimes getting away from it is the stronger call; especially true when the bookstore is howling off in the distance the names of new book releases. One look at the early threatening sky was sight enough to shape the plans for a day away, and by late morning my car was headed for Daytona, neatly sandwiched between fifty motorcycles. The drive to Daytona from New Smyrna Beach is usually no more than a twenty minute cruise on surface streets, but it was a somewhat longer this time because of traffic, two-wheel and other.
At the bookstore, a couple of books on my watch list, and after handing over a painful amount of money, I found a seat in Starbucks looking out into a steady curtain of rain. Reading at home is good, but reading in a comfortable seat flush against a wall of glass looking into the mouth of a thunderstorm has its moments. So I sat for almost two hours reading alternately from my new purchases, Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward and Ellen Ullman’s By Blood. The coffee was good, the room quiet, the reading fine and the pounding fury of rain outside a dramatic dumbshow.
Stomach beginning to growl, I made a dash for the car and headed to a favorite restaurant not too far down the street. Parked again and already knowing what I wanted, I approached the counter. My exchange with the employee was precisely the same as last month:
EMPLOYEE: Hi. What can I get you?
ME: I’d like a bowl of baked potato soup. Nothing else, just the soup. Thanks.
EMPLOYEE: Okay, one bowl of soup…baked potato. Would you like anything else?
ME: (blank stare)
Somewhere there is a failure to listen. On the earlier occasion I repeated that soup was all I wanted, nothing else. Maybe it was the rain, or possibly dullness on the part of the employee but I didn’t feel like repeating my order a second time yesterday.
The rain was a light drizzle for the drive home, and for the time it took I constructed a chicken curry in my head, the first in a long time. Perfect for a wet night. There was a time years ago when I would have made the curry from a combination of spices, but Japan cured me of that and made plain the ease and rich flavor of curry mixes like S&B Golden Curry. Add meat and vegetables, cook up a pot of rice and the eating be good.