If you ever find yourself in the crook of the elbow of Cape Cod, visit the Impdent Oyster. It’s a restaurant in the tiny town of Chatham, Mass, which is about the furthest east you can go before Cape Cod turns north and takes you up to Provincetown (which the locals refer to as P-town). When I first met Benjamin, he had been to Chatham several times and was eager to take me to the Chatham Bars Inn (and for true effect, you have to say it like this: “Chatham Baahhhs”), so we visited over the New Year’s holiday. The town of Chatham is so cute – there’s a Main Street and that’s about it. Except for the lighthouse. It’s called Chatham Light. And every January 1st, everyone from Chatham shows up at the lighthouse and they take the town picture. No, I’m not kidding.
So when we were in Chatham four years ago, we went to the Impudent Oyster on December 30th, and we loved the food so much that we asked them if they could squeeze us in the next night as well. Our choices were 5:30 or 8 pm. I have no recollection of which one we chose. The food is great – there are always specials and they make excellent fish – I have had both ahi tuna and swordfish dishes there, and both were stellar.
This year, we had a family wedding to attend in Nashua, New Hampshire on New Year’s Eve, so we decided to have a little weekend getaway to Chatham after the wedding. We made reservations at the Impudent Oyster far in advance this time, for both of the evenings we were in town. The first night we pigged out – an appetizer, an entree and a dessert EACH. And a few glasses of wine for me. We rolled out completely stuffed. Thankfully the Chatham Bars concierge is happy to run you up to the Impudent Oyster in their Land Rover and then pick you up when you are finished – it’s only a mile or so, but in what was blinding snow last weekend, it was quite necessary and quite appreciated!
The second night we practiced more restraint – we skipped dessert. We ended up sitting next to a nice couple and exchanging food recommendations with them a few times. I must have said something about living near Malibu, or eating at a restaurant in Malibu, and the husband asked us where we lived; we said Los Angeles. We asked him where he lived; he said Washington, DC. Benjamin grew up in the DC suburbs; they traded notes a bit. I said I had lived in DC for a bit during grad school. He asked me what grad school I attended; I said the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University. I asked him if he was in politics (is there anyone in DC who is not in politics?); he said no, I teach, at the GSPM, at GW.
I said, “you’re Dennis. Dennis Johnson.” He said “yep.” I never took any of the courses he taught; I was in the first DC class after the school moved down from New York. We talked a bit about the degree I got – when I first graduated, the school was not officially affiliated with GW, and my original degree was a Master’s of Professional Studies, issued by the New York Board of Regents. Six years after I graduated, I got a letter from GW, saying they would convert my degree to an MA if I sent them a check for $50. So I always joke that I have 2 Master’s degrees, one of which I earned. I wanted the MA because no one knows what an MPS is! Dennis told me the school is again offering the MPS degree.
We shook our heads – two people who live 2,600 miles apart, but who sixteen years ago crossed paths just a bit, end up sitting next to each other in a restaurant in a little tiny town neither of them live in. Coincidence? Small world.