my Local - Elizabeth Genco
I don't know what the population of Orono is these days, but it was
under ten thousand back in my day, doubling in size between the months
of September and May with the student population. I doubt that it has
grown much in the last fifteen years.
There aren't many places to beat a hasty retreat in a town that small.
When it's 1989 and things get a little too "under the microscope",
staring back at the world with a shit-eating grin is a solid coping
strategy. So is good pizza. Rx: lace up your Bean boots, grab your
best friend, and slide into a wooden booth at Pat's for some laughs
and a pie from heaven. Make up stories about the truckers and logging
men bellied up to the counter. Smile at C.D., your classmate and the
son (or is it grandson?) of Pat, as he throws the dough under the
cracked neon checkout sign. Plot your world domination (or just your
You say you're in the mood for Mexican? Well, Margarita's is just
next door. The food's good and greasy (heavy on the cheese). They're
liberal with the chips and salsa. And for peoplewatching, you might
catch a glimpse of some of Orono High School's finest faculty,
stringy-haired and reeking of nine kinds of booze, pontificating about
the Homer and odes to Grecian urns. (That's to impress the ladies,
When you step on to the snow-covered sidewalk, slightly sleepy from
all that cheese gumming up your stomach, day will have turned to a
clear Maine twilight. You'll take a breath of crisp air, tinged
slightly with pine trees and exhaust, and downtown Orono will look a
little bigger, somehow.
And later, snuggled under flannel sheets topped with your favorite
brown sleeping bag, you'll feel a little less alone.
- Elizabeth Genco: Orono, Maine native