I have been friends with King Neptune since I first met him in 1965. We keep in touch during the year and then get together during Lobster Festival week.

He still looks great.

When he is not in his royal getup, he looks like an old Maine carpenter. Crisp new chamois cloth shirt, bib overalls and deck shoes with white socks.

He wears a tape measure with increments of fathoms.

We go for breakfast at our favorite place on Main Street at 6:30 on a bright Saturday morning. We sit in the back ‘neath a picture of John and Bobby Kennedy. The waitress greets us with a steaming pot of coffee. Immediately Neptune’s face lights up. “Stacy! So good to see you again.”

“You too, Majesty!” she replies. She is one of his former Sea Princesses.

Neptunus Rex is known to his friends as Tune. He is not wealthy, but is comfortable. He has a place in Lubec (I have partied in Lubec) and one here in Owls Head on Powder Shed Drive, looking right at the Rockland Breakwater.

Tune always asks about my pretty wife Joanne. Tune is a lifelong bachelor. He likes to say, “I play the sea.”

I ask what he has been up to. With a twinkle in his eye, he tells me he is building a scale model of the Royal Tar – the famed circus ship which sank off Vinalhaven with circus animals on board, now the subject of a wonderfully illustrated children’s book by Chris Van Dusen.

Our talk almost always turns to lobsters. Tune says this year’s group is one of the best he has seen. They now have a pretty good shell on them and are moving offshore. He says the lobsters shacked up along the Breakwater are among the last to leave. “They know they have it good there.”

I tell him about my herd of squirrels at the Grass Ranch. Last year’s team was the best at getting all the horse chestnuts off the lawn. This year there are a bunch of young ones who fool around too much.

Tune smiles and nods. He says, “I have had years when my bugs forgot to come back in the spring. I had to prod them.”

We both agree the Lobster Festival would not be the same without shedders.

Our breakfast arrives: a lobster omelet, crab cakes and a side of kelp for my friend; I have a grilled biscuit, eggs and bacon. Tune tells Stacy to keep the black coffee coming, and oh by the way could he have a dirty mug?

Where do you suppose he got that idea?

Tune thinks this year’s Festival was one of the better ones. “I really liked the vibe. Celia is doing a great job.”

We finish breakfast and go our separate ways. Tune gets into his ancient Mercury Mariner and wends his way back to Owls Head.

I am glad he keeps coming back.

Glenn Billington is a lifelong resident of Rockland and has worked for The Courier-Gazette and The Free Press since 1989.

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