I am occasionally the suspicious type, and a fairly low-grade conspiracy theorist.
And having spent about a day-and-a-half in Bend, Oregon, something is really tripping my wires.
First of all, there haven’t been any clouds in the sky.
It has been nothing but sunny and warm, albeit a bit breezy.
Of course, what that does is show off how amazing the scenery is here.
And downtown is full of cute businesses.
Where they have hanging flowers on street corners … just because?
And they have a farmers market Wednesday afternoons, because of course they do.
Where they sell pies! And pecan shortbread cakes that are to die for.
OK, OK … I know that by this point, you probably think I’ve lost my mind, or at least decided to sample a certain product that can be legally sold in Oregon.
Yes … the weather is great and the town is cute and pecan pie filling on top of a shortbread cookie is the way you want to perish that you never knew about.
But I promise I’m not crazy, and here’s my proof.
I defy you to explain to me how everyone is so nice and seems so happy.
Clerks, waiters, people you run into on the street or walking along a trail … smiling, polite, pleasant.
The people kayaking or paddleboarding look like they’re having the time of their lives.
We even saw a guy hold off a family photo so he could climb over a fence to retrieve trash from the water.
WHO DOES THIS!!!!!!
And it’s not even that you can’t see people who are struggling with their lives, which unfortunately, is a problem everywhere.
We haven’t even seen people a little agitated.
I’ll give you an example. Suzi and I went to the Looney Bean this morning. It’s a small coffee shop near downtown, and it was busy.
As in line-out-the-door busy.
And no one seemed to mind.
And the employees didn’t seem the least bit harried trying to keep up.
You’re going to try to tell me this isn’t some kind of a plant?
The plot is sophisticated, too. They work on you mentally.
They don’t just have friends respond to your Facebook posts not only with “That looks amazing!” and “Be sure to go to Crater Lake!” and “We stayed there and loved it!”
They recruit one of your best friends and her mother to talk it up constantly, offering the ultimate inducement (well, along with the Dave Matthews Band concert, since she’ll go to the ends of the earth to see them) …
… They put her brother in charge of the Looney Bean.
Wait … there’s even more. Our exceedingly friendly waiter at breakfast this morning? From Worcester.
I’m telling you … whoever’s behind this rolls deep.
I did notice a couple cracks, though.
As I was buying a sweatshirt, I asked the clerk if it was always like this, and she said it pretty much was during the summer, but that they do get storms once in a while.
And my friend’s brother wasn’t at the Looney Bean this morning. I asked when he’d be in, and was told something about “not having a set schedule.”
Fine, it’s early, he’s the boss, but he wasn’t there when I went back later.
I messaged my friend on Facebook, and she passed something along from him that I absolutely am not going to repeat here, but I wonder if it’s that he just couldn’t face me.
He and his extremely friendly staff may be able to pull the wool over the eyes of other travelers, but I have played volleyball and pool and his childhood home.
I was at his sister’s wedding. I have HELD HIS NEPHEWS WHEN THEY WERE BABIES!
If I said to him, “Dude, this place is so awesome. It can’t be like this all the time, can it?” he’d give away the whole game.
Better to just keep us apart.
So who’s behind this, and what do they want?
It can’t just be to take my money. People are pushy in New York. The traffic is terrible in Los Angeles. I nearly froze in Edinburgh. The sun coming out in London is considered a triumph. I still left plenty of money there.
And this has to be more than the local chamber of commerce. No, this is part of something bigger, not when Switzerland and who knows where else is out there, too.
Someone is creating a network of places that are so appealing, so close to perfect that you can’t help but go even if there’s no way it’s anything but an artificially constructed “reality.”
But who? The CIA? MI6? The Twelve?
And if their aim is more than just separating people from their money, what is their endgame?
I have no idea, but if you want to go to Bend to try and figure it out, feel free.
And be sure to stop at the Looney Bean. The drinks are good, the staff friendly and my friend’s brother runs the joint.