"Guess what? Guess what?” Phil McAndrews, owner of Offshore Ale, shouted from the upstairs office. Phil is a tall, wiry man. He power-walked downstairs and marched toward me. “Guess what?” he asked again. It was early November in 2009. I was 22 and had been working for Phil for three years. At that moment I was in the middle of my routine of sweeping the endless amounts of peanut shells off the floor and emptying them into the wastebasket. I tried to match his enthusiasm.
“What? What?” I asked.
Phil told me that the Edgartown Board of Trade had asked Offshore to march in the annual Edgartown Christmas Parade. “What an honor!” he exclaimed. The joy on his face was infectious.
“So will you march?” he asked.
I should explain that about a month earlier three co-workers and I had dressed up as Offshore peanuts for Halloween. We waited tables all day, posed for pictures and won a costume contest at the end of the night. Perhaps the board of trade had heard about our costumes and thought what Christmas really needed was some adult-sized peanuts.
“I’ll do it!” I said.
This was going to be the best parade ever. I imagined the four of us marching together, skipping and laughing, waving to the crowd Miss America-style, and giving high fives to all the fans shouting our names.
A few days before the parade I asked one of the other potential peanuts what color stretch pants she was going to wear under her peanut costume. I told her I was going to wear brown.
“No,” she said. “Just no.”
Oddly enough no one else had said they were excited about dressing up either. I shrugged. Maybe they just hadn’t figured out their costume logistics yet.
For the big day Phil had a plan. Meet at Offshore at 8 a.m., drive together to Edgartown, line up with the rest of the participants, then march down Main street at 10 a.m. I was so excited that morning I walked from my apartment to Offshore in costume. But when I got to the restaurant and opened the back door, nobody else was there.
“We’re up here.” Phil shouted. Thank goodness, I thought. It would have been really embarrassing to be the only peanut. I walked upstairs. There was Phil, dressed as himself, and his son, Dillon, a fourth grader, also dressed as himself.
“I’m not wearing the peanut costume,” Dillon said to his dad. “It’ll ruin my reputation!”
The three of us drove to the parade. We pulled into the parking lot and I watched, as if in slow motion, as people prepped for the parade. Jingle bells on scrunchies, wreaths on cars, face paint for reindeers — everyone, with the exception of one adult in a peanut costume, was dressed for Christmas.
When the parade got underway Phil and Dillon carried an Offshore Ale sign and I marched next to them. I shouted “Merry Christmas!” and waved to children I didn’t know. I paraded like a nut.
Sydney Bender is the editor of Edible Vineyard.