Friday, March 9, 2012

Ranting About Unimportant Things (Again)...and Then It Became a Tour Guide Post

Are we aware that Nathaniel Hawthorne's women characters are named Hester, Zenobia and Hepzibah? I thought maybe this was him coming from a weirdo family, but his wife's name was Sophia. Totally normal. His mother's name was Elizabeth and his grandmother was Miriam. "Ah, but what about his OTHER grandmother?" you ask. "Surely she had some highly unusual name." HER NAME WAS RACHEL. RACHEL.


I refuse to research things beyond Wikipedia and the facts I learned ages ago that MIGHT be correct but who really knows? I certainly don't. But I'm gonna go ahead and blame his weirdo names on Transcendentalism. DAMN YOU, TRANSCENDENTALISM.


Speaking of Hawthorne, did you know that in Salem, MA you can visit the house that The House of Seven Gables was based on? Kind of? He stayed in it with his sister or aunt or cousin or something, whose husband owned it, and it was pretty fancy, but completely disappointing after reading the book. Yeah, I went on the tour. And while there were some entertaining moments, like when the Very Tall People on the tour could not navigate the hidden staircase without bumping their heads, for people in Ye Olden Days were short, the house is very much not like it is in the book. And for disappointed tourists comme moi, they added on a cent shop in like the '20s or '30s or something, which was, sadly, my favorite part.

The best part of the tour, which can only
be seen on the outside of the house after
the tour is over
Salem is actually a general Nathaniel Hawthorne disappointment, because the OTHER place you can tour (which they moved to be right next to the House of the Seven Gables) is his "childhood home" only by childhood they mean until he was five years old. I moved from my original home in Virginia when I was four, and I can tell you, that place means jack to me. 

There IS a statue of him on the walk from the witch museum (shut up, you know you'd go to it too) to his home. So that's kind of neat. There's also an excellent seafood restaurant named Finz, where the waitress will not make fun of you for being in your 20s and ordering a Shirley Temple.

And since this is turning into a Tour of Salem, here's a tip about the witch museum: It is not worth going. TRUE it is built on the site of the Reverend Parris's home (i.e. the location of the first incident with the girls), and that's vaguely cool, but you go in and an animatronic show happens, and then there's some sort of lecture about the history of the word 'witch.' I don't know for sure, because my friend and I ducked out after I asked the usher if the lecture was worth going to. "No" was the answer.

The town also has this, which was sadly closed when we were there.

"Noooooo!" Alice wept, beating her fists on the closed glass door.

The location of the Lizzie Borden happening is an hour and a half away, but I'm assuming the proprietors of the museum said "Fuck it, let's make Salem a one-stop shop."

Salem is actually pretty awesome, regardless of everything I just said. And the people in the creepy wiccan shops are EXTREMELY nice, even when you tell them you're just looking for a place that sells sweatshirts.