the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Berkshires – A Wrap-Up

The Berkshires Have History —


Sophia, my mother, and I rented a house in Cheshire, MA for the week. It overlooked a lake with ducks and geese. We had a rowboat. In the middle of Cheshire is a monument to the town’s fame: The Cheshire Cheese Press.

In the 18th Century, a town had to have a Congregationalist church, in order to be officially incorporated in Massachusetts. Cheshire was founded by Baptists, so it had a problem becoming a town. Thomas Jefferson, the President at the time, was a strong advocate of religious liberty. The town of Cheshire honored Jefferson by creating an enormous wheel of cheese and shipping it off to the White House. The cheese was four feet in diameter, thirteen feet around, seventeen inches high, and weighed in at 1,235 pounds. Jefferson was quite pleased. Coincidentally, Wooly Mammoths had just been discovered, so the cheese was nicknamed, “The Mammoth Cheese,” popularizing the word “mammoth” as meaning “extra-large.”

Soon after receiving the cheese, Jefferson made his first mention of the term “separation of church and state,” in a letter, partly inspired by Cheshire’s problem as a town.

So on July 4th, remember the town of Cheshire and eat some American cheese!

The Berkshires Have Interesting Residents —


Sophia and I had the opportunity to meet the engaging blogger, Claire, who lived nearby. Keeping in the tradition of meeting in a blogger-appropriate spot, we met her in an unpretentious, but cool coffee shop on Main Street, North Adams. The three of us talked for nearly two hours about the beauty of Massachusetts and life in general. It was amusing that Sophia and I thought we were in “the country” while Claire felt we were still in a fairly “urban” environment.

As we left the coffee shop, Sophia hugged Claire goodbye. Suddenly, we heard some crazy old guy calling out, “And what about me? Can I get a hug, too?” Sophia, being Sophia, was happy to oblige, she went over and hugged the crazy guy. After saying that Sophia was just as nice and cute as his great-granddaughter, and how the hug made him all excited, he proudly showed us this framed photo of a little girl and a dolphin that he just bought at Goodwill for ninety-nine cents. He then proceeded to tell Sophia and Claire both dirty jokes and jokes about the Pope, such as, “The Pope has bird flu. He got it from the Cardinal.”

The owner of our vacation house ended up being a well-known professor of ethics. On our first day at the house, the place was pretty filthy from the last guests. We called Donald the “handyman in charge” who came by (a little drunk) to clean up. He fiddled around a bit, never letting go of the Pabst Blue Ribbon he was holding in his hand. He then proceeded to bad-mouth the owner, telling us that she hardly pays him anything for all the “work” he does. Not wanting professors everywhere to look bad, Sophia gave him a ten dollar “tip.”

The next day, Sophia, my mother, and I are relaxing on the back porch when, out of the shadows, Donald the handyman appears (another Pabst in his hand)! After we catch our breath, he asks us if he can help us in any way.

Could he show us how to fish? Would we like to know where to get good pizza?

Even after we said no, he stood around for a while, telling us how the ten dollar tip came in handy yesterday. Donald said that he didn’t really need the money or this job, but most of his finances was tied up in the stock market. When we didn’t give him another tip, we never saw him again.

The Berkshires are a Cultural Mecca —


Not only did we enjoy the beautiful scenery (when it wasn’t pouring), but we took in a tremendous amount of the Arts. We saw great exhibits at the Clark Museum in Williamstown and the Mass MOCA in North Adams. We heard music at Tanglewood in Lenox. We saw theater at the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield. We saw an amazing dance performance at the gorgeous Jacob’s Pillow in Becket.

All this culture produced a surge of creativity in my soul. One night, as I sat on the back porch looking at the lake, a lightbulb lit up above my head. I had come up with the perfect creative solution for getting Sophia alone, away from mother.

It was as the Muses were whispering right into my ear, “Take Sophia out into the middle of the lake with the rowboat. Play some romantic music. She’ll be so excited seeing you rowing, that before you know it, she’ll be riding you in the boat until she screams out in pleasure like a wild loon.”

The next day, I set the plan in motion. I took the rowboat and rowed Sophia out into the middle of the lake. I fed her the strawberries we picked ourselves that morning on a farm.

“How about some music?” I asked.

“Music? How are we going to get music?”

“Modern technology.”

I took out my Sprint cellphone that I got through the Sprint Ambassador Program and clicked on “Music Download – Search.”

“How about if we download something appropriate — some music with ‘Lake’ in it?”

The first piece of music that popped up was an excerpt from “Swan Lake.”

“Sounds good. Classy and romantic,” I thought. “Perfect for sex in a rowboat.”

Five minutes passed. Downloading… Downloading… Downloading…

Sophia was getting bored.

“Forget about it,” she said.

“No, we need some mood music.”

“What for? Can’t we just listen to the quiet of the lake?”

It was time to tell her about my special plans for the afternoon. But I also had something else on my mind, because I’m a man who believes in protection before sex. I pulled out a lifejacket from under my seat.

“Sophia, I want you to wear this.”

“I’m not wearing that thing. It’s ugly and dirty.”

“I’ll wear one, too. Besides, my mother says it’s the law.”

“I thought only kids wear that.”

“No, everyone should wear one. Especially you. You’re not much of a swimmer. What if the boat shakes and tips over?”

“Why would the boat shake? The lake is so calm.”

“Just wear it.”

“No, it’s gonna make me hot.”

“I was hoping you were going to get “hot” about something else.”

“What are you talking about?”

‘Swan Lake’ started chirping on my cellphone.

“Romantic, isn’t it?” I asked.

“Holy shit, Neil. Did you really think we were going to have sex on a rowboat in the middle of a lake?”

“No good?”

“There are houses on the lake. People can see us”

“We’ll be doing them a favor. What else is there to do in Cheshire?”

“Neil, we’re separated. Even if no one could see us, I don’t think we should confuse things. Let’s just row around the beautiful lake and relax.”

I rowed, rowed, rowed the boat, completely frustrated. Suddenly the clouds darkened and it started to drizzle.

“We better get out of here now,” I said, as I turned the boat around and started to row faster.

“It’s only a tiny drizzle,” protested Sophia. “It’s still so nice out here.”

“We should go.”

“I actually like the rain. It’s romantic.” Sophia said, smiling. “And it makes it much more difficult for anyone to see us.”

“What are you saying?”

“You know what I’m saying.” she purred seductively.

Sophia looked over at me with a mischievious grin. I knew the look.

“Now?!” I cried. “NOW you want to do it?!”

It thundered, which freaked the hell out of me.

“What if lightning hits us?” I continued. “We’re sitting ducks in here. We’re in the middle of water, in a metal contraption. We can be dead!”

“I thought lightning just hits the trees.”

“No. With my luck, it’s gonna hit us! ”

Lightning brightened the dark sky. Sophia looked up in awe.

“Wow, it’s like we’re seeing Mother Nature at work. It’s so beautiful…”

Sophia reached over to touch me.

“Are you crazy, Sophia?! We have to get out of the water NOW.”

I started rowing back at record speed.

“So, are you saying “no” to me now?” she asked.

“I’m saying NO to being in the middle of a lake in the middle of a thunderstorm!”

“This is just like you. Always such a scaredy-cat. You and your lifejackets. .”

“There’s lightning going on!”

“It’s 10 miles away. You’re always so overly cautious.”

“Everyone leaves the water when it rains!”

“How do you know?”

“Wanna bet? I bet you that every local here leaves the water when it starts to rain and thunder.”

“You have yourself a bet!”

Later, after we safely made it back to the house, I spoke to Claire and she agreed with me about leaving the water.

“Ha Ha. Claire said I was right!” I said to Sophia, mocking her. “I won the bet!”

That night, I slept in the third bedroom, with only my Penis as company.

“You’re such a schmuck,” my Penis said to me.

A Year Ago in Citizen of the Month: Flushing, Queens


  1. Denise

    You’re so much braver than I to even attempt it in a rowboat – I’d be freaked out about overturning and being eaten by the lake fish. (Yes, I’m scaredy like that!)

  2. akaky

    You wuss.

  3. Brooke

    You are going to die alone with your c***k. When did that become a five-letter word?

  4. mernitman

    This is like Rom-Com Essence (but don’t bottle it, please): The Best-Laid Plans leading to no one getting laid…

    Meanwhile, the Berkshires ARE Heaven. I spent many summers there, one of them probably the most formative of my life. You’ve been blessed, so tell your penis it’s okay to have a rest (he won’t listen, I know, but anyway…).

  5. Tatyana

    You’ve been to Pittsfield, and what’s more – to the Barrington Stage Co show – a home to my dear friends,! And you rowed the boat (it’s [rAw], I tell you!)

    I’m getting out immediately, to buy a chunk of [stinky and squishy as hell] American cheese per your orders.

  6. lizardek

    hahahahaha! What a way to wrap things up!

  7. Roberta

    “Got it from the Cardinal.” BahahahaHa!!!

    PS Good pizza is an oxymoron in Massachusetts.

  8. claire

    That old dude was something else. All I could think was: well, there’s some local color for ya.

  9. Lou P.

    When I think classy and romantic, I think of screwing in a rowboat! Did you download “I Can’t Stand The Rain” by Eruption for the ride back to shore?

  10. Pearl

    Neil,is this story something like a “big fish that got away” story? Whatever, you never cease to amaze — um, I mean AMUSE me!

  11. Neil

    Sorry Brooke — Your comment doesn’t make much sense anymore since my mother convinced me to “clean” this post up.

  12. Ash

    Neil, you poor poor man. You should meet my husband (you’d have a lot to talk about) ;P

  13. Bill

    I believe I rented that porno in Holland once, “The Hardy Rower.” The follow-up was the “The Eager Canoist.” It was an engaging double-bill.

  14. Bill

    (Like I’ve ever been to Holland!)

  15. rachh

    Good attempt at ‘lake lovin’ Neil. I agree with Sophia about the rain and lightening though. very romantic. Fried genitals would not be good if you had got struck by lightening though

  16. better safe than sorry

    you should have gone for it, throw caution to the wind!!! men.

  17. V-Grrrl

    Ah, Jefferson was such The Big Cheese. I was visiting Monticello and my then 2-year-old daughter broke away and made a mad dash beyond the velvet rope and plunked her Pampers clad bottom in TJ’s big read leather chair, the one he used to sit in when he presided over the Senate. Leave it to a 2-year-old to take the seat of power.

    I have to say, I’d pass on sex in a rowboat but didn’t they have some lovely piney woods there. The balsam smells so lovely when you grind it into the ground. Ahem.

  18. kristen

    I would have been totally scared but I can’t stand being the wuss (always) so I would have done it and then bragged because I so wasn’t the wuss, thus pissing off my partner who would have expected the bragging from the sex.

    I love that MOCA museum in North Adams; totally unexpected in that town and lovely.

  19. Paris Parfait

    Oh Neil, poor you. But getting out of the water before the storm hit was important. Maybe you can make up for lost time back in California.

  20. Elisabeth

    This reminded me that I should really re-read Lamartine. For romance by a lake, Rousseau isn’t that bad either.

    But, Neil, you sure top all of those wussy French romantics!

  21. Tara

    I am terrified of lightning, so it makes total sense to me. Plus, you know when you go to that much work and there are that many expectations, you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.

    Maybe you’ll have more luck in Los Angeles when there isn’t so much pressure.

  22. mari

    You’re in famous company! That midget was in “Willlow”, that eighties classic.

  23. Brooke

    Your mother censored your post. That is so awesome.

    By the way, the beer Donald was drinking is commmonly referred to as PBR. Just saying for next time.

  24. Belinda

    Sorry for the missed opportunity, there, but lighting LOOKS for idiots on the water. She did you a favor. Really.

  25. idighootchandcootch

    you should have done the deed while rowing back to shore – you know, multitask. “stroke, stroke, stroke….”

  26. Fitèna

    lol! I knew, I just knew it was going to end up that way! lol!
    Nothing seems to be working the way you plan it to, no? lol! *am not laughing*


  27. girlgoyle

    When you want a beer really bad…have a really bad beer. This is the PBR logo. As for lighning in H2O…if you are in a wooden boat oars pulled in you should be OK…Or was I not paying attention in science class?

  28. Serena

    Hilarious. You constantly cause me to just shake my head in wonder as I read your posts.

  29. Karl

    Geez, Neil, even if lightning DID hit you out there on the water, you’d die with a smile on your face. Your penis is right.

  30. cruisin-mom

    I like the original, unclean version of this post

  31. Neil

    Cruisin — I’m still in NY staying with my mother. Do you really want me to get my mouth washed out with soap? But if you want, I’ll email you the uncensored draft for your private reading.

  32. Melissa

    You missed a brilliant opportunity to let the… ocean back up your motion…

    And sex in the rain is definitly worth the risk of a few bazillion volts… hell, you’d think your skills had gone up exponentially.

  33. AWE

    The title of this post should have been, “Almost wet Willy”

  34. party girl

    Ah, romance.

    It can be troublesome, can’t it?

  35. Sandra

    Oh, Neil…I think not having sex in the middle of the lake might actually be worse than being struck by lightning!

  36. Karla

    I had no idea Sophia was such an indiscriminate hugger. Tell her I want a hug, too.

  37. Wendy

    Great story. But I can’t get over the joke about the Pope and the Cardinal. Ha!

  38. teahouseblossom

    Hey, the Berkshires are awesome. I’m going to be up there myself at the end of the month.

    Glad you and your cock had fun.

  39. Rabbit

    You mean there was no island in the middle of the lake where you could go to, ahem, wait out the storm?

  40. darlin nikki

    Haha, that’s cracking me up! I’m absentmindedly reminded of Anchorman right now – “You ate a whole wheel of cheese? Heck, I’m not even mad; that’s amazing!”

  41. Alex

    I think you made a mistake! I think you should have taken your chances and gone with Sophia’s idea! At the worst, you two would have been struck by lightning and died, but it likely would have drawn a lot of publicity to your blog like you have wanted, and at last you could rightfully take your place ahead of Dooce’s readership.

  42. 2nd Pearl Past the Post

    Make it a canoe, and a yes, and you’ve got yourself the architypal Canadian sex scene.

    Happy July 4th. Hope it’s a (fireworks) blast.

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