In a Roy Roger's restaurant on the New Jersey Turnpike, I've loaded up my roast beef sandwich with pickles and condiments from the 'fixin's bar' and all I can think about is a Simco hot dog in Mattpan. I've ridden my Little Ninja motorcycle for miles along interstate asphalt, but I would have rather navigated River Road between Lower Mills and Mattapan Square, then just nudge the front tire a little north along Blue Hill Avenue to Simco. Mattapan....Mattapan...You haunt my hunger for good things.
The Mass Pike was clotted with commuter car traffic. The Jersey Pike is full of trucks rumbling its featureless miles after miles after miles. The interstate is unlike Mattapan's streets. Mattapan...thick with action and interaction on a pace that isn't about efficiency, but community. Mattapan: schoolgirls, schoolboys, stumblebums, and matrons bent by the weight of overfull grocery sacks, the handles groaning between the crooks of their fingers....Mattapan: full of hustle and bustle and trusses and push-up bras...Mattapan: dense and rich, poor yet wealthy with flimflam and barleycorn...bombast and bravado, machismo and demure Haitian school marms.
Mattapan, caught like a fly on the enticing web of the Blue Star Memorial Highway, Dwight D. Eisenhower's brainchild, I miss your thicket of byways and contrary, convoluted, misdirected streets. Mattapan, I would rather eat a Simco hot dog while perched on the bridge over the commuter rail tracks than a roast beef sandwich at a formica table in a rest stop in New Jersey, even though there is a rest room at this New Jersey rest stop. In Mattapan, people's private business is part of the public sphere.