Monday, August 14, 2006

Land's End

We've been and we're back.

It almost seems dream-like, except for this high coloring I'm sporting.

What can I say? I plan on doing the exact same thing again next year. And , with luck, it will be the exact same thing I did last year and the year before that and the year before...well, you get the picture.

We made it up in record time, only hitting some traffic in the Bronx, of all places. Our secret? We leave at 5:00 AM. Our combined Adult Attention Deficit Disorders will not allow us to endure 10 hours of traffic jams. We wake up early, much like that young man in the Disney commercial who is too excited to sleep, throw it into gear and hit the road. There's something almost romantic about seeing the sun rise over the swamps of Secaucus. We stop for coffee and breakfast somewhere in Connecticut and we're on the Cape by 10:00, in Provincetown by 11:30.

We listen to soft, jangly music like Elliot Smith and Joni Mitchell as we ride in the dark, notching up to Mark Knofler & Emmylou Harris, Maura O'Connell, then both of us singing old Marshall Crenshaw songs as we ride up the Cape.

We arrive and park the car on the pier, awaiting access to our little condo. Some breakfast at Bubala's, where we receive our usual greeting from the taller of the two Hat Sisters, who is sitting at the bar. For years he and I have enjoyed a relationship that strictly consisted of sticking our tongues out at each other at the Boatslip, later blossoming into airborne kisses sent across the crowded deck, now relaxed into a warm welcome.

If fact, we received similar greetings from various bartenders, restauranteurs and even the lady who scoops up our ice cream cones each night before we hit the A-House.

It's great fun to see our Provincetown friends; those people from all over the country, and in fact, the globe, who return every year for the same week in August.

By the time we've unpacked, shopped and set up housekeeping, it's time to head over to the Boatslip. I've never subscribed to the fashion of pastel/jewel-tone/day glo vacation togs, and arrive pretty much in my standard NY gear. You know, black, blue or brown t-shirt, jeans and boots. Nothing fancy, just what works. And in that floral hued crowd, I stand out not unlike Maleficent, the evil fairy/dragon in Sleeping Beauty. Like I said, it works for me.

I must talk about the t-shirts here. There were no end of attractive, and not so attractive men in shirts with printed slogans like Catcher, Pitcher, Plow Man, Top Loader, ad naseum. What is Crewcut Wrestling anyway, if you don't have a crew cut, and you're clearly not in wrestling form? Morning Wood? Oh, please. The tall, rather burly young man in a tank top emblazoned with the word BUTCH and a drawing of a bear beneath it was clearly having identity issues. Guys, first of all, it's generally pretty easy to figure out who's fucking who in a relationship. And all I need is about 10 minutes, probably less, to suss out what you and I would most likely be doing in bed. Yeah, there might be some surprises, but generally, I find I don't need shirts that seem to have the equivalent of "I'm with Stupid" on them to figure out which way the wind blows. As a matter of fact, it's becoming something of a deal breaker for me. My apologies if you just bought one.

Another complaint heard around town this past week was that the young guys, mostly from Boston, were extremely nelly. Their word, not mine. First off, I've found that each new generation reacts to the very thing held dear by the previous one with a disdain bordering on the pathological. After 10 years of Chelsea boys and Weho wannabees, these kids have embraced a whole different aesthetic. They're slim. They're trim. They're wearing my old wardrobe from 1974. I think it's cute, as long as I don't have to fuck 'em. They haven't learned to hold their liquor yet, and now and again someone would just Girl Out, causing no end of eye-rolling among the more experienced crowd. It made for a great show.

A couple of years ago, we stood on this very same deck listening to a New York friend complain about the very same thing: the men in Ptown just weren't butch enough for him. Tim put an end to that conversation by announcing in his inimitable fashion:

"It's the Boatslip, not Sturgis!"

I agree.

I spent a good deal of time sprawled on the sofa in the late afternoon sunlight, reading "Summer Crossing", Truman Capote's unpublished first novel, and Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home", which might be one of the bravest things I've ever read, and Jay Presson Allen's "Just Tell Me What You Want", which I'd read about in her obituary and hadn't known existed as a novel.

I'd alternate between reading, push ups, and watching the family of Robins that were nesting in the cedar branch that brushed against our kitchen window. When we arrived I heard the tiny peeps, and located the four almost translucent yellow beaks sticking up, crying to be fed. By the time we left, the birds had grown enormously, all gray sticking-out feathers, in contrast to their dapper parents.

We managed to get out of town and hike some beautiful Cape beaches. That's Tim up there, about to venture out on the Great Island Trail near Wellfleet. You can walk miles of beaches, admiring the banks of cranberries and beach plums growing wild on the dunes, or laugh at the thousands of tiny crabs that poke their way out of the sand when they think no one is there, only to disappear as you lumber by.

I ate too much. I drank too much. I didn't stay out late nearly as much as I might have liked to. Like so many other cities, Provincetown has it's own Crystal Culture. It's settled in and has been going on for a few years now. The one bar I really used to like enormously has changed from a handsome, almost bucolic setting into a seething pit of bad moods, short tempers, too much machine-like porn and not a whole lot of the old camaraderie that existing before this current siege. It used to be a great room in which to actually meet people and talk to them. It isn't that at all, anymore. In fact, it's rather downbeat and depressing. We never really stayed that long.

None the less, we'll return next year.

I've made my reservations already.


Blogger Maddog said...

Welcome back, we've missed you.

Sounds like your trip was just what the doctor ordered, so good for you.

1:19 AM  
Anonymous bryce said...

Sounds like a great trip!

I agree with you about the T-shirts. I cannot imagine wearing something like that. Embarrassing.

Welcome back!!

10:42 AM  
Blogger Joe.My.God. said...

Mark, as long as I've known you...I still don't think I'd know what your shirt would say. Isn't that odd?

Wonderful write up. Next year,I want the cabin next door.

12:53 PM  
Blogger David said...

I had one of those tank tops, and wore it once and felt like an ass and never wore it again.

Your trip sounds lovely. I sometimes long for the stability that would have me vacationing the same week in the same place every year, recognizing faces and acquaintances. But I know my restless side would construe it as a rut and want to change it. You are lucky.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous ralph said...

I agree with you about the Alison Bechdel. It hit pretty close to home for me, and I thought it was amazing. Too bad people are going to hear "graphic novel" and stay away.

1:19 PM  
Anonymous Mike P. said...

Welcome back.
The trip sounded great.
I miss going up there.
The views, the bars, the people...
I remember one of the first times I had gone, years ago...
My brother ended up setting up reservations for me at a B&B that had Barbie Dolls strewn throughout the entire front lawn and fountain.
Nothing like telling a really cute guy you just met,
"Um yeah... I'm staying at the Barbie guest house."

11:53 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Last time I went up, on my first day there, I bought a kite to fly at the beach. The next day I went back to the shop in the morning before the beach and bought a stunt kite as well. Every morning thereafter I would ride my bike to the kite shop pre-beach and buy some new kite accessory... tails whirly-gigs etc.

It was very gay.

But I can't decide if it's more gay than wearing a t-shirt that says "I'm A Bottom".


12:45 PM  
Blogger Kel said...

I think you're the same Mark who left me a very nice comment. If you're not, well swell blog anyway. If you are, then thank you very much I really appreciate it.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Foxy said...


1:27 AM  
Blogger palochi said...

I have a whole drawer full of those t-shirts. And I've only just bought them this year. Don't ask me why. I thought it was a good idea at the time. Chalk another thing up to my midlife crisis, I guess.


I'm thinking about heading to P-town in late October for my birthday. Is it still fairly decent to visit that late in the year?

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Aaron said...

Everyone went to Provincetown this year!

5:18 PM  
Blogger circleinasquare said...

Lovely, lovely, lovely.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous stash said...

Guess I'll be going there next summer.

All my $ went towards moving into my new place in April. No vacation, no Folsom, nothing for Spamwise this year.

Never been to Ptown so I expect it should be fun.

ps. "butchness" is attitude, not apparel. that's my take on it anyway.

5:53 PM  
Anonymous seymour said...

Welcom back woofy man! I love the cut of your shorts!

3:27 AM  

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