Sunday, October 17, 2004

Talk About The Passion 

Monday, September 27, 2004

The first time I went to Glastonbury Festival I couldn’t believe my eyes.
It was 1986 and I’d spent so much of my youth with my head up my arse that I’d never even heard of it (the Festival, not my arse) until a few months before my first visit. It blew me away (ditto).
I didn’t know that a counter culture existed outside of Woodstock documentaries, and for years afterwards I couldn‘t shake the experience out of my head. People frequently describe discovering Glastonbury as like finding their spiritual home and I can appreciate that entirely.

I mention this because I imagine that gay people may feel the same way about Provincetown.
It’s the only town I’ve ever been to where gay couples can stroll hand in hand, show affection to their partners in public the way that straight couples can, and happily go about their rightful business of being themselves. It’s not that gay people are tolerated - come on, who wants to spend their lives being merely tolerated?
Gay is just normal. For a visitor it must feel like coming home.

On the other hand, if you’re not comfortable with being surrounded by gays then you should either stay away from Provincetown or buck your ideas up. Get over it.
Ooh, listen to me! I’m almost ranting! I’ll be criticising George Bush next - isn‘t he the pits?

We were up at six to witness the sunrise over the bay. It was worth it. And it wasn’t such a great effort - we only had to open our door and we were there. I even threw some clothes on.
Then we passed the morning flopped out in the sunshine, reading, writing a little and listening to music.

It was much warmer than we’d expected, and of course I hadn’t brought any shorts. I looked for some but the only shops selling shorts were trendy establishments with over exuberant pricing policies. I could have unwittingly bought a pair of gay shorts and been none the wiser. I don’t even know if gay shorts exist but judging from what I saw on the racks, I thought it best to err on the side of caution. What kind of mixed signals would I have been sending out? I’d have been a laughing stock and that’s just what I came on holiday to get away from. So my jeans stayed on and that was the end of it.

The whale watching was amazing. Before our trip I’d emailed Jamie asking for advice on tipping etiquette - it’s a bit of a minefield but you probably already knew that. She very kindly replied and also mentioned that she once worked for Dolphin Fleet in Provincetown, so naturally that was the company we went with.
We pulled up alongside a finback. You only ever see the top of their backs and their fins, so it’s a bit like seeing an upside down surfboard, but we got much closer than I’d expected. It was quite an experience.
Moving on we presently found a humpback whale. No offence intended towards any finbacks that might be reading - you’re a really lovely whale and all that, but you have to admit that you’ve got nothing on humpbacks. It was awesome. It swam alongside the boat and you could see it’s eyes and mouth and that knobbly stuff round its mouth that looks like whale acne but isn’t. I took loads of photos and was way too slow off the mark with all of them, so here’s a link to a decent picture. It would also swim directly towards the boat, then breach, heaving itself right out of the water before lunging downwards, waving its huge tail flukes in mesmerising slow motion. It would swim right beneath us, resurfacing some minutes later on the other side. It was a hyperbole eluding experience which I’ll never forget. If you ever get the chance, go and see a humpback.

We ate at Napi’s again. The previous night we’d chatted with the owner and enjoyed his story of how he’d built the place himself. Obviously the food was very good, and it was a terrific place for people watching and eavesdropping.
A girl sitting at the bar in a blue shirt would from time to time recognise someone - a couple of waiters, the owner, customers, an extremely pretty blonde waitress - and let out a squeak of happiness before rushing up to them and hugging them intensively. She must have been a former employee catching up with old acquaintances.
When the girl in the blue shirt noticed the extremely pretty blonde waitress she had a more serious expression in her eyes. She walked towards her slowly and gave her a giant hug, then a long tender kiss on the lips, then another giant hug, followed by an even longer lingering kiss on the lips. It was quite beautiful - I still think about it now. In fact I could happily have watched them all evening but pudding arrived and somehow the moment was gone.

Afterwards, we wandered through the still busy streets, pausing to look at galleries and a shop selling Jesus action figures, then past the ghostly empty summer homes on Commercial Street and back to our room.

Funnily enough, I dreamed about waitresses again.

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