I love this fuzzy snapshot, taken on a bus barreling down a road at night to somewhere in America long ago.

It catches the moment just after the woman with her hand extended, and the wise-ass expression on her face, has nailed the punch line of a joke or a story  -- and convulsed the woman sitting in front of her.

Let's assume they didn't know each other before getting on that bus. What is it about a road trip that opens us up and makes a good joke -- or, better, a bad one -- even funnier? I thought about that last week in Maine (see my two previous posts) while traveling, drawing and eating lobster with a group of three women I'd never met before.

There were no guarantees we'd all get along, much less click. But that's what happened. By the fifth night, gathered around a table in a restaurant overlooking Boothbay Harbor, after a fair amount of wine, we were laughing as hard as the woman in the photo.

During the week, over dinner, after days of drawing and ferry travel, we'd worked our way through our careers, marriages, divorces, parents, children or lack thereof, clothes ("I've got enough clothes to last me the rest of my life."), hair color ("You put beer on your hair?"), diets, recipes for anything good with chocolate (pots de creme; Nigella Lawson's Easter nest cake *).

Reserved by nature, we each recognized women we liked and could trust. Straight shooters. Lucky us.

As we happy campers walked back that night across the Boothbay Harbor Footbridge to the inn where we were staying, Madeleine (not her real name) broke out singing "All I want is a room somewhere" from My Fair Lady's "Wouldn't It Be Loverly." Those of us who knew the lyrics joined in. Then Lisa started "Chapel of Love" as we crossed over and up the (very public) street. By now we were dancing, a coastal Maine second line without the brass band.

"Think up another song, quick," Lisa said to me, as we neared the inn. I said, "How about 'You Are My Sunshine'?" thinking everybody would know at least the first verse -- and I knew the harmony. So we sang that and we sounded so sweet.

Instant Gratification: "You Are My Sunshine" by Mississippi John Hurt

Or, listen for free on YouTube

* Scroll down through other recipes in this link for the cake. Other versions, including the one on Nigella's website, have confusing measurements and amounts. So, thanks, NPR, for this one!


  1. that's so so lovely. and i must ask: beer in the hair?! is this something we should all be doing?

  2. Oline -- Beer in the hair, here's how it works, evidently: 1) have cans of old, cheap beer on hand; 2) when your hair is towel-dried, pour about a quarter of the can on your head, work it through, and leave it on to dry. Result: more body for thin hair. And, your hair does NOT smell like beer. I haven't tried it yet because my hair has lots of body. If you're interested in more feedback, I will consult with my New Best Friend from the Maine trip! K


Thanks for your comment! ~Katey Lee

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