We took the kids to Plimoth Plantation over the weekend during that wonderful spell of Indian summer we just had. (By the way, I don’t think the word “Indian” is offensive in the context of summer, do you? There were signs posted up all over the trails suggesting the use of the term “Native Peoples,” but “Native People summer” gives the impression of overwhelming numbers of native people being around during the actual summertime and so it’s confusing not to mention unwieldy, not unlike this tangent.)
If you’re not from around here and/or live under a rock that’s not Plymouth Rock, Plimoth Plantation is one of the biggest tourist attractions outside of Boston, with a full-scale replica of Plimoth colony circa 1627 complete with walking historians who act out the roles of the actual settlers, as well as a reproduction of a Wampanoag village. Maybe it’s uncool to admit it, but I was kind of excited to go back after all these years. I loved Plimoth Plantation as a kid, sneaking into other people’s homes and snooping through all their stuff. Later, as a teenager, I engaged in the fine art of Pilgrim-baiting (trying to trick the role-players into admitting knowledge of the modern world, as if no one’s ever tried that one before). Now that I’m older and oh-so-very-much-wiser, I couldn’t wait for my kids to have the same peek into 17th century life. And to tell the Pilgrims all about the Internet!
It’s a little bit awkward, though, to interact with the staff at period museums like this (Old Sturbridge Village included). You don’t want the actors to think you yourself are actually fooled by their phony accents and thatched roofs and very convincing daily chores going on around you. You know they’re just acting, and you know they know you know they’re just acting (you hope). But it’s also important to keep the magic alive for the children. What kind of a loser goes to a place like this and then refuses to participate (loud throat-clearing directed at Husband). In this vein, I was happy to aid the First Grader in his earnest quest to locate a young Pilgrim boy named Samuel Eaton he’d read about in a library book. But then maybe you might find yourself getting way too wrapped up in conversation with a possible distant relative of young Samuel to the point of cracking the eggs for her pain perdu while your children wander away.
After a while, Husband had to intervene because the other 21st century folk jammed into the one-room dwelling couldn’t get a word in edgewise:
Me: (to Pilgrim lady) So tell me again what you like to do with all these squashes.
Husband silently leads me out the door by the elbow.
Him: You do know they’re not real Pilgrims, right?
Me: Duh. I know that. I was just playing along.
Me: But I was a little offended that she didn’t ask us to stay for lunch. She had three golden opportunities but kept changing the subject to the news from England. I didn’t make all those sausage patties for nothing.
That’s okay. There's always next time. I wonder what my new friends are doing two Thursdays from now?