June 28, 2004, 12:00 P.M.
[Ed. note: This piece was written on June 28, and was published in the Laconia Daily Sun on June 29, 2004, but not posted until July 6, 2004.]
Bennies Go Home: I read an article in the Daily Sun that reminded me of the downside to living in a resort community. It seems that a dad, a Massachusetts resident, felt that it was okay to bring his eighteen year old Eagle Scout son and a group of his underage friends to the Lakes Region for a graduation party and celebration of his son’s accomplishments. Not a bad idea, unless you add alcohol, then it’s a very bad idea. But what is it that makes people believe that because we live in a resort area, all of the rules of decency and civilized behavior are suspended?
Now, I know that there is a school of thought that says it’s okay to drink with your kids or to let your kids drink. It can also be argued that the drinking age used to be eighteen, so somehow it‘s okay to allow kids to experiment. I don’t go to that school. I wonder how many of those parents who had to drive two hours to pick up their inebriated little darlings subscribe to the “supervised drinking” idea. Their thinking may change when they bring junior up to Laconia to be arraigned on the various charges that can, and should be, brought against minors who drink, regardless of where the alcohol came from or who was in charge.
Of course, the host can and should be charged with a few violations of various laws and prohibitions against serving alcohol to minors. Not to mention the potential civil liability.
This story only points up the bigger issue. I wrote about it last summer in the context of boating on Lake Winnipesaukee where vacationers seem to behave as though there are no rules that apply to them because, “hey, I’m on vacation.” There is no regard for the people to live and work here year round, or the people who use the lakes, their boats and the roads with respect and concern. I also see this attitude on the roads year round and I know that many local businesses are forced to put up with the tourist mentality in order to benefit from the tourist dollars. That’s not fair. If you don’t behave like an idiot at home, you should not do it here. If you are like that all of the time, it’s evidence that gene pools do have a shallow end.
When I was living in Concord in my younger days, I opened my front door to find some guy peeing on my front door, who said in his defense, “hey, don’t bust my ----s, I’m on vacation.” I explained to him that I was not, that I lived here, and that if wanted to enjoy the rest of his vacation that he’d better clean up my porch.
When I lived in a resort area in New Jersey, the attitude was the same. People felt free to abuse the natives, disrespect their property, and behave in an arrogant, self-gratifying manner. The Lakes Region is getting more crowded every year, as are the lakes, mountains and parks. People who visit and who leave their vacation dollars behind, and who take nothing but their memories of our beautiful communities are the majority for sure. The raucous, nasty, self-centered cretins who believe that the rules of civilization don’t apply to them because they are on vacation give every other visitor a bad name, and those of us who live here a bad attitude. My goal when visiting other places is to enjoy myself, to meet people and to be a respectful visitor, not a tourist.
Living at the New Jersey shore, I remember that the best time to surf, swim and enjoy the waterways of southern New Jersey was between September and May when all of the “Bennies” went home. I’m sworn to secrecy about what the term actually means, but suffice it to say it is akin to the term “flatlander” in many ways. The same is true in the Lakes Region when weekdays present the best time to get out on the lake, and late summer and early fall provide some of the best, and least crowded sailing days of the year.
Our notorious recent visitor may certainly find that he leaves a little extra change in the Lakes Region, and he may also take home a little added ink on his record if he is convicted of any of the charges stemming from his recent visit. A whole lot of other people may also pay the price for his mistaken belief that the rules don’t apply to him, or don’t apply here. Hope some of our other visitors are paying attention.