“Catfishing” in Conneaut Lake

Attention: I managed to do it again and I'm delighted beyond recognition. I conned an unassuming victim into penning a column for me. This time it is my dear friend Judy Villenueve, of Maine fame, who was handed the reins. Her piece focuses on her recent visit to this area. I'm certain you will enjoy her take.

JUST A FEW goofy pictures taken on Judy's last night in town. Yes, I'm actually donning my night clothes in these. We left The Child out because he took some of the pics.

“Catfishing” in Conneaut Lake

- By Judith M. Villenueve

Dear Readers,

You don't know me, so allow me to introduce myself. My name is Judy and I live in Central Maine, very near Augusta, the state capital. In fact, I drive past the residence of Republican Governor Paul LePage on an almost weekly basis. (I wanted to inject a little bit of politics, since it has not escaped my attention that this column, which I have the honor of editing occasionally, often seems to involve political topics.)

A few months ago, I found myself in the middle of a rather severe disagreement with my adult daughter, who happens to live with me. The details aren't important. Suffice it to say, it was causing me extreme distress and trauma. I found myself longing for an exit strategy, as well as something to look forward to, so I decided to plan a summer road trip. With friends and relatives scattered all over Maryland and Pennsylvania, I could be assured of comfortable accommodations and meals along my journey.

There was one friend in particular whom I was very anxious to meet in person. Lisa Houserman and I had met on Facebook through our mutual admiration of Frank Zappa, over a year ago. Throughout the course of the year we have confessed to each other some our deepest darkest secrets, and she has been my shoulder to cry on through various and sundry crises, not the least of which has been the aforementioned drama with my daughter. In fact, my husband has taken to suggesting “Why don't you just call Lisa?” on occasions when I have grown a bit too needy for him to handle alone.

Of course, anyone who has ever watched MTV's popular show “Catfish,” or has warned their adolescent daughter about meeting new friends in on-line chat rooms, knows the dangers of getting to know somebody via the internet. Often, these people are not exactly who they present themselves to be. How many times have you heard on the news about a young girl who has gone off to meet a person she believes to be a boy her own age, only to disappear into the clutches of a predator? How many times have you made fun of some celebrity who believes they are having a torrid relationship with a beautiful woman who turns out to be an overweight middle-aged man living in his mama's basement?

So with these kinds of thoughts swirling in my head, and a little bit of trepidation, I added Lisa to my itinerary. I decided a day or two stay in the beautiful resort town of Conneaut Lake tacked on to the end of my trip would be harmless. I did get accused of wanting to use her house as a rest area as I headed home, but I told her to think of it as my “saving the best for last.” I think that mollified her somewhat.

I arrived at Conneaut Lake on Saturday, July 23rd, which I believe was the hottest day of this summer so far. (I don't know if that record will hold, as we still have the entire month of August to look forward to.)

Immediately, I felt myself surrounded by people who knew me – and actually liked me! Even though they had never met me before, through Lisa they had heard all about me. It was the nicest and strangest sensation to be embraced by strangers to whom I didn't have to explain anything about myself. We could just get on with it, and talk about the events of the day, and laugh and converse like old friends who just hadn't seen each other in a while. I admit to feeling a wee bit starstruck to find myself in the presence of such celebrity figures as Perpetual, the Child, and Mother. Oh and I almost forgot to mention the celebrity cats! (Some of you may be feeling a twinge of envy right now. Don't worry, it's perfectly natural.)

I was to stay in a luxurious bedroom in the home of Mother (aka Jackie), situated next door to Lisa's. I have to gush a little bit about this home. It is perfectly beautiful, tidy, decorated with an artistic flair, yet welcoming and warm. I wish I could say the same about Lisa's house. But I don't want to start off my relationship with you, the readers, by telling you a big fat lie.

I'm joking of course. Lisa's home is wonderfully quirky and filled with colorful bits of furniture and memorabilia, as well as Lisa's artwork everywhere.

I had a wonderful time with Lisa and her family. I got to see all the sights around the lake, including the posh Iroquois Club, where the Child is currently employed, and the lovely stores and coffee shops and restaurants in and around the town of Conneaut Lake. But really, I wouldn't have minded if this family lived in Antarctica, and we had to stay indoors the entire time. I still would have enjoyed their company immensely.

I am safely back in Maine now, and very happy to be home. But I can't help wishing that, rather than being a 12 hour drive away, Conneaut Lake was as close to my house as the Governor's Mansion in Augusta is now. In fact, I would be happy to see them switch places.