July 16, 2020

No hockey? Start a scone competition

It’s vacation time and I’m not going to watch a ballgame of any kind. Let the standings for whatever sports are going on just sit there. They’ll be there next week anyway, just like they were there the week after vacation last year and the year before, etc., etc. Besides, it’s July 4th weekend and the hockey season must be starting up pretty soon. After all, the Stanley Cup finals have been over for a week now.

No, it’s time to get on with the real sports in life, the competition that matters. First and foremost, it’s the race for the scones. Scones were never big in Maine when I was a kid.

Now there’s this bakery on the island I sit and read on that makes these great blueberry scones. The trouble is, the owner-chef learned well the lesson of supply and demand. She’ll never tell me exactly how many dozen she makes at some ungodly hour in the morning, but it’s never enough to suit slugs like me who get up just in time for lunch when they’re on vacation.

Here I come with a paper to get my morning coffee at 11:35 a.m. and the scone bin is almost always empty. She knows I’m going to ask her if she has any hidden in the kitchen and I know she’s going to say no. In fact, I think she can’t wait to say no because she’s been up baking since the bars closed and now she can get back at me for sleeping half the day away. “No,” she smiles, “the scones are gone.”

Now, having to settle for the blueberry muffin or the raspberry turnover is not the worst thing that is going to happen today. But, you know what it’s like when you went to bed the night before thinking about some great treat you were going to have for breakfast and now it’s gone. And she stands there behind the counter with that little baker’s smile on her face that says, “And boy were they good.”

This is where the competition comes in. Clearly, I’m not going to get up with everyone who’s not on vacation. That would be all those people going to work on the ferry who stop by the bakery and rob me of all the blueberry scones. This is not a good thing.

I can ask her to save me some scones, but like all good bakers, not to mention entrepreneurs, she’d rather sell to the person standing there with a dollar in his hand than the nitwit sleeping into sandwich-making time. Voila! A solution.

My friends on the island have to go to work. So, when they stop in to get their caffeine in the morning, they buy a bag of scones, take what they want and leave the rest at the counter with my name on the bag. I pay them for services rendered by providing their scones for free.

However, like the baker, my friends have this thing about me still sleeping while they trudge off to work. They aren’t happy with just the scones. They want wine when they get home, out of my vacation stash. All right, already. A deal.

Here we go to the bakery knowing the scones are just awaiting. One can’t help but have a sly smile eeking out of the corner of one’s mouth. One will open the screen door and let it slam with the sound of a Maine summer, head to the empty scone shelf and casually glance at the baker waiting to say, “No, there aren’t any hiding in the kitchen.”

Here is that rare opportunity of victory waiting to be grasped. Calmly walk over to the counter and say, “There is a bag here for me. Could I please have it?”

I wish I could finish this column, but I’m on vacation. Happy July 4th.

P.S. If I ever find out who the person was who picked up the bag waiting at the counter before I got there, I’ll beat them silly with a raspberry turnover.

NEWS columnist Gary Thorne, an Old Town native, is an ESPN and CBS broadcaster.

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