Monday, September 18, 2006

Confused in Connecticut

Saturday, September 16, 2006
Photo courtesy of Peter Rukavina

Returning from Long Island, where I had watched Wayne’s World--the ultimate hockey and donut movie--in our hotel room, watched my cousin get married, and then let my feet get way too happy when the band played “I’m Walkin’ on Sunshine,” I was wiped out. As I reclined in the front seat of the car, my driver—my wife and AMHL photographer—had finished her battle against the on-and-off congestion of the I-95 corridor but continued her struggle with the late-summer heat along I-91 to Hartford.

I was groggy as I sensed the car make a left turn.

“You gotta see this,” my chauffer said.

We made a U-turn and then a right.

I couldn’t believe my eyes: A Tim Hortons? In Connecticut?

“We can’t stop here,” we thought. Wherever we were in Connecticut—where residents must choose Red Sox or Yankees, Bruins or Rangers, Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme…good or evil—we were in unfamiliar territory. We just wanted to pump our car full of gas and then get back on the road, but the donut dilemma consumed us.

A Tim Hortons this far south? How do Connecticutites deal with this issue?

I don’t know, but I’m all for Timmy’s if we’re north of the 49th parallel (I’ll even concede the occasional indulgence in Maine). But this close to home, no way would we choose Tim Hortons over our beloved Dunkin’ Donuts.

We considered stopping—what could the harm be in looking? We shouldn’t have. We did.

Inside, we saw the standard fare we would have seen if we had been in Moncton or Montreal: the donut case filled with Walnut Crunch, Maple Frosted, and Sour Cream (glazed and plain) donuts. The coffee cups offer the trademarked slogan, “Always Fresh” sans its French equivalent, "Tojours frais."

On the flat screen behind our order-taker, I noticed the image of a hockey player with a flattop crew cut: Tim Horton himself. This was an educational video for those weren’t aware of the man behind the name of Canada’s finest donut chain. The words on screen told us that the NHL hall-of-famer played 22 seasons, winning four Stanley Cups.

I ordered a half pint of milk and a Plain Sour Cream, took our Timmy’s to go, stopped at the gas station (where Krispy Kreme donuts are sold), and then headed for the highway. I confessed a silent apology to our favorite stateside donut chain as we passed Meriden’s Dunkin’ Donuts…committed to renewing our donut vows once we were back home.
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