So about that neurosis-inducing crystal-breaking incident…

Hey, remember this?


Well, I know you’ve all been lying awake at night fretting over the outcome of that tragedy, so I decided it was time to put some closure on the broken-crystal story.

When last I updated you, my plan was to return to Crow Haven Corner, the bona fide “witch shop” in Salem, Massachusetts, from which I bought my now-broken crystal more than 20 years ago. The only problem with that plan was the fact that, back then, I was attending college in Salem. Nowadays, I live about 370 miles away. So, you know … slightly less convenient.

A few weeks after I broke the crystal, however, my mother turned 65, and I decided to make a solo run up to Massachusetts in order to surprise her at her birthday dinner. The journey marked my first-ever road trip in my new car (which, yes, was seven months old at the time, but when you own a car for 15 years, its replacement can still reasonably be referred to as “new” at the seven-month mark), and I was pleased to find that I was able to get all the way from Philly to Boston without making a single stop.

Even though the car was not yet out of fuel when it reached Beantown, its driver most definitely was. In fact, I spent the last hour of the drive fantasizing about filling my growling stomach with a pie from the greatest pizza joint in the history of flat, round, cheese-and-sauce-covered dough: Regina Pizza … or just “Regina’s,” if you prefer (and I do). It was like a pizzeria Death Star, locking me in its tractor beam and pulling me towards its brick-oven goodness. There was nothing I could do to escape. Plus, also, I didn’t want to escape; I wanted to eat.

Unfortunately, the North End of Boston at 10 o’clock on a warm Friday night in October is a zoo … which is why it took me more than half an hour to find a parking spot. I didn’t mind, though. Driving around my old stomping ground was part of the fun.

After parallel parking like a goddamn champion on the busiest street in Little Italy — no small feat when you’re doing so in front of an audience that looks like the cast of “Goodfellas,” one of whose members almost surely owns that jet-black Escalade you’re trying very hard not to back into — I donned my Red Sox cap and beat feet towards my favorite neon sign (a much better, highly-doctored version of which I posted years ago).

Just drove 6 hours for a pizza. Totally worth it.

A photo posted by Daddy Scratches (@daddyscratches) on

Word of my imminent arrival had apparently leaked, because there was one stool left at the bar just for me, and seconds after planting my ass on it, the two ladies to my left offered me the rest of their half-full pitcher of Samuel Adams Octoberfest, which I was all too happy to help them finish. Within moments, I was eating the greatest pizza known to humankind, drinking free beer and watching Game 3 of the World Series. This is what you call “a good night.”

The following day, I had some time to kill — my surprise appearance at my Mom’s festivities wasn’t taking place until 4 o’clock — so I hung with my Dad for the first half of the day, all the while toying with the idea of heading up to Salem in search of a new crystal. And because I am a piss-poor judge of time, I waited until almost 2 o’clock to drive into what, on a normal day, is a frustratingly inaccessible city, and on an unseasonably warm and lovely final weekend in October is the single most congested square mile this side of New Delhi.

Why so congested, you ask? Because the “Witch City” is Ground Zero for every Halloween-loving freak from around the globe. (And, lest you think I’m casting aspersions on those freaks, allow me to remind you that I most surely am one of them.)

Traffic was backed up for miles, and I was still about a klick away when it became painfully clear to me that I had two choices if I wanted to make it to my mother’s dinner on time: Bail on this mission, or park the car and set out on foot. Guess which option our obsessive-compulsive ex-soldier chose?

After power-walking into the heart of the city, I reached my destination:


When I arrived, the place was so busy that I had to stand in a line on the sidewalk and wait for the head witch in charge to allow me in. Based on how little time I had left to complete my mission, I thought about cutting the line, but seeing as how I was surrounded by, you know, actual fucking witches, and seeing as how I didn’t know if toads were welcome at the restaurant where my Mom was having dinner, I tried to wait as patiently as I could.


OK, so maybe I wasn’t all that concerned about someone turning me into a toad … but you gotta figure anyone dressed like this in broad daylight who believes she’s an actual witch might be capable of going batshit crazy on your ass if you cut her in a line for a famous witch shop. Just sayin’.

When I finally entered the shop, I made a beeline for the case in which the crystals are kept and asked the goth girl behind the counter if she might have a suitable replacement for the damaged one I was wearing. But, whereas the long-haired warlock dude who stood behind that counter 21 years ago was only too eager to help a long-haired college dude/potential fellow warlock find the perfect crystal, the present-day goth chick seemed less enthusiastic about aiding the short-haired, wrinkle-faced senior citizen standing in front of her.

After perusing what was available, I reinforced my senior-citizen-like image by telling goth girl that they apparently don’t make ’em like they used to … because I saw nothing that was worthy of being tied around my neck for the next several decades. This was a bummer, because I really liked the idea of replacing my old crystal with a new one that came from the same place of origin.

Fortunately — or at least seemingly so at the time — a number of other witch shops had sprung up in the vicinity during the years since last I was there, so I set out on a frantic, door-to-door search … a process made significantly less fun and substantially more time-consuming thanks to the capacity crowds crammed into every store.

A half hour later, I was still empty-handed, so I asked a store clerk with a face full of metal if she could suggest a place where I might find something comparable to my old crystal.

“Try Hex,” she said.

“Hex?” I said.

“Yes, Hex,” she said. “It’s about a half-mile that way.”

Oh good! More speed-walking! This fits perfectly into my plan to arrive late to dinner, drenched in sweat!

A half mile later …


Based on the sign alone, I felt like I had as good a chance of finding a crystal here as I did of becoming the main attraction in a blood sacrifice … and I was right (about the not-finding-a-crystal thing, that is; thankfully, I managed to avoid the blood-sacrifice part).

It was with no small amount of difficulty that I overcame the obsessive-compulsive, hyper-focused, never-say-die forces that rage within me, aborted the mission, and fled on foot back to my car … but seeing as how I had driven 400 miles to attend my mother’s birthday dinner, I felt like I should probably be there on time, so I folded.

And thus, the really cool story I’d envisioned about going back to Salem and replacing my crystal instead became a really lame story about how I wasted an afternoon conducting a fruitless, one-man forced road march through a sea of tourists and witches for no apparent reason.

I consoled myself with a back-up plan that involved finding a worthy replacement online — you know, the way I’ve bought every other item in my life for the past decade or so … specifically because doing so allows me to entirely avoid frustrating bullshit like the afternoon I’ve just described. (I’m tellin’ you guys, this Internet thing is gonna be big!)

Four months later, however, I’ve realized that the Krazy-Glue with which I “temporarily” repaired my broken crystal seems to be doing a more-than-respectable job of serving as a “permanent” solution … and tragedy has not yet befallen me, so one can assume that the crystal’s magical protective properties are still in full force (if one is a little touched in one’s head, that is) … so I now have no desire to replace it.

Which means it just took me more 1,000 words to tell you that I’m just gonna keep wearing my old crystal. You’re welcome.

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  1. Posted February 27, 2015 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    I relate to this ending. I always find myself taking the route that somewhere deep down I know I should be taking from the beginning. Glad to read you’ve made peace with the crystal and can live in harmony once again.

    • Posted March 5, 2015 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m living in harmony … but I no longer feel the need to roam the earth in search of a new crystal, so, you know … I’ve got that going for me.

  2. Posted February 27, 2015 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    I can relate to the whole story because it sounds exactly like how some of my obsessive searches end up.

  3. Jessie
    Posted March 2, 2015 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    I wish you wrote more often! You’re hilarious.

    • Posted March 5, 2015 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for the compliment. Means a lot.
      FWIW: I wish I wrote more often too!

  4. Dorothy
    Posted March 2, 2015 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Fucking hilarious! I hope your Mom had a lovely birthday dinner.

    • Posted March 5, 2015 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      You’re too kind. Thank you. Huge compliment. I appreciate it.
      Mom’s dinner was delightful. 🙂

  5. Posted March 2, 2015 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    I am kind of freaked out to tell you that this popped into my head the other day. Also, a few years ago we went on “vacation” to Vermont, AKA the family reunion that refused to end and gave my child an asthma attack since it was at the creepiest motel ever. We went on a side excursion to Boston so my husband, two sons and Father-in-Law could see Fenway Park. The tickets were expensive so my mother-in-law and I went to Salem and toured all those stores. There were people that thought they were witches all over the place in August, so I can imagine how it would be in late October with warm weather.

    In short, glad things are working out, and I can clear your broken crystal off of my things to worry about.
    Kate´s most recent blog post: Where I have been…My Profile

    • Posted March 5, 2015 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, witch attire is tough to pull off in August, but all the rage in late October. 😉

  6. heidig
    Posted March 2, 2015 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    But did you arrive on time at your mother’s birthday party? If so, your broken crystal’s magical powers still work!

    • Posted March 5, 2015 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      Arrived with time to spare. Maybe the Krazy-Glue only enhanced the crystal’s powers!

  7. Posted September 5, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    I’m just now reading your blog after reading one of your comments on The Bloggess.

    So I’ve been cruising around your site and found this story with its updates, etc. Great story! I can totally empathize.
    I once lost a scarf that was very special. I ended up buying 7 more scarfs ($$$) online from the person I originally bought it from (in Australia!), in hopes of replicating the original scarf.
    Many days later, I actually found the original scarf by the door to the parking garage of my building. Apparently, I had dropped it when I went out for a walk, but somebody must have known it was my scarf, so left it outside my building. Amazing that it didn’t get taken or blown away.

    But back to your crystal. You might keep an eye out for any gem and mineral shows in your area. I go to these a few times a year and seek them out when I travel. You can find some amazing crystals and raw stones at these events. Even if you aren’t going to replace the one you have, I highly recommend going anyway. There’s some amazing stuff out there.


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