I have a bunch of favorite days of the year. June 21st, the longest day of the year (although like Daisy Buchanan, I anticipate and anticipate, then forget it until June 23), each of my daughter’s birthdays, Red Sox opening day, Good Friday (mainly because I have a tasteless joke that I, alone among almost all of humanity, find hilarious), my wedding anniversary (or anniversaries—Carol Robidoux has written on this site about how Elena and I were first married in early 2022, but didn’t get the proper paperwork until a couple months ago). Lots of favorites.
Oh, yes. Christmas, too.
One of my favoritest of favorite days, though, comes next Saturday. Hope for New Hampshire Recovery’s annual Recovery Festival is at Arms Park September 30 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Arms Park is a new and much, much larger space than Veterans Park, the festival’s previous site. Taking up space about two-thirds the size of a football field, the festival has grown from a trade show for businesses in the treatment-recovery industrial complex to become a genuine gathering of the recovery tribe.
For the first time, the festival will include a whole bunch of raffle items ranging from New England Patriots tickets to a big-screen television to a painting by local artist DR Cote to lots and lots of large gift certificates. Thanks to the hard work of two Manchester recovery houses in particular, Into Action and Home Sober Living, this raffle offers prizes worth more than $4,000.
Many local recovery houses will put on activities like a dunk tank, henna tattoos, a bubble space, gratitude rocks and others, including a chess tournament, which deserves a paragraph or two of its own.
I am a chessophile. Loving something, however, doesn’t imply ability. While adoring the game as a player, my love doesn’t depend on winning. Jonathan Gerson, though, the owner and operator of Into Action Sober Living appears to love chess and be a pretty great master. At last year’s festival, Jonathan challenged all comers to matches, offering a prize to anyone who could beat him. Jonathan claims he lost to a visitor, but the person never came back for his winnings. I suspect that, Like a good hustler, Jonathan fabricated the story of the disappearing fish—all the better to get a high-stakes opponent into Jonathan’s grasp.
I don’t believe I’ve ever played Jonathan, and if I ever do I expect to lose within 10 moves. He is reportedly that good. He is a master. I am a patzer. He is grand. I am a fish. Jonathan could easily beat me with half his brain tied behind his back and the other half trying to do seven-digit multiplication in his head. In short, any such match would be a bloodbath for me.
Perhaps you’re a better player than I. Strike that—if you know how the pieces move, you have a good chance of being better than me. Come to the Hope Recovery Festival and challenge the Deep Mind of Detoxing, the Ratings King of Recovery, the one, the only Jonathan Gerson.
Maybe you can be the disappearing man of this year’s festival.
Or maybe I will be.