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Sunday, July 23, 2006

P-Town Confidential


I promised I would not keep any secrets about my wild week in Provincetown, but nothing too juicy occurred. The only really exciting thing that happened was when my Old Man, O, and I were held up at riding-crop point by a gang of wild-eyed leather boys in tight black chaps demanding we hand over all our sex toys. We'd left our dildos and butt plugs back at the inn, so we had nothing to offer. They tied me and the Old Man to a quaint, rough hewn driftwood fence using studded leather restraints, and they were ready to start baring and whipping our asses right in front of O. when the clever little tyke piped up and offered them his sippy cup. They looked at its sleek design, its sloped, blunt-ended cover, and its whimsical images of suggestively smiling trucks, decided it was good enough, and set us free. We breathed a huge sigh of relief as we watched their taut and well-tanned asscheeks striding off down the narrow street.

And then I woke up from my daydream, drool festooning my chin, as the Old Man approached me with my ice cream cone. In reality, it was a chill week hanging out in the hottest gay vacation spot in Massachusetts. Provincetown is to Boston as Fire Island is to NYC, and it's quite fun to enjoy sea, sun, and haute cuisine with hoards of happy, proudly out gay and lesbian singles and couples strutting their stuff in a tiny, centuries-old seaside village.

This was our family's second visit to P-town, and like last time, it was mostly positive. I appreciate being in a place where gay folks are out, comfortable, and safe -- I wish it were that way everywhere. I'm glad to have my kid see boys and boys holding hands and girls and girls smooching. It's great to witness two cute women hugging and nuzzling and, when I make eye contact and smile as I pass by, have them smile back uncomplicatedly. There's an assumption in Provincetown that you're either gay or you're cool with people being gay. It feels good.

It's also interesting being the minority for a change. I admit I feel a little less inclined to hold my Old Man's hand as we're strolling in Provincetown. And that's okay. But there's also sometimes a look that me, the Old Man, and our beautiful little spawn get as we're walking around, especially in the primarily-gay East end, where we stay. We get it more from gay men than from lesbians. Sometimes it seems a bit cold. Sometimes it borders on hostile. In a way, I can understand it. But I also find it saddening.

(The Old Man and I actually have a running debate with ourselves whether the cold look arises from our being a band of straight breeders, or whether it's more about the fact that we're scruffy lower-middle-class riff-raff. Provincetown is a pricey place overrun with artsy rich folk, and we could never afford to spend a week there without my grant to study at the arts center. But I think it's more the straight-couple-with-kid-in-tow thing.)

One afternoon, after I'd been in my poetry workshop all morning, the Old Man said "Maybe we've been misreading the vibe around the neighborhood -- O. and I were getting a lot of smiles and small talk from gay men as we walked around today." I observed that without me there, the Old Man would come across as neutral, possibly a gay dad, and certainly not necessarily a straight one. This led us to talk more about the reception the three of us often get in the East end of P-town. I took the perspective that it made sense in a certain way: I could see why people who might get hostile looks from straight people would react coldly to straight people running around in their gay vacation haven. Maybe we were just killing their buzz, and I found it hard to really fault them. The Old Man objected. Wasn't the very fact that we were staying in Provincetown evidence that we weren't homophobic jerks? And shouldn't it be heartening that we were bringing our kid to an actively pro-gay community? Wouldn't a state supreme court judge considering, say, a gay marriage case be more likely to make a gay-friendly ruling if he or she had grown up seeing gay people just living life, expressing affection openly? That judge (or that pro-gay teacher or that self-accepting gay adult) could be O.

Though we never reached a conclusion on that debate, we did have some decidedly positive experiences with gay men, as well. Gay couples are much more likely to smile upon our cute little boy if he's fawning over their cute little dog. Or, of course, if they have a cute little young'un of their own.

I myself had a positive (and not imaginary) experience with a friendly leather boy in tight black chaps (and a black leather motorcycle cap and studded black chest harness) when I stopped by M.G. Leather to pick up a BDSM postcard to send to Feral Mom. (Disappointingly, they had no raunchy postcards, but I did get a nice, basic pride postcard. And now that we're already back from our trip, I'll get it in the mail soon, I promise.) Here's how it went:

Leather Boy: (smiling brightly, with a twinkle in his eye) Find everything you were looking for?
Me: (Staring openly at the spiked cock rings and alarmingly ginormous veined dildos behind the counter) Huh? Oh, yes!
LB: (Humming along with Sade's "Smooth Operator" as he rings me up.) That'll be one dollar and thirty cents.
Me: (Unable to believe I'm getting such a bargain. I'm buying several postcards! And this is Provincetown!) Oh! (Handing over exact change.) Here you go.
LB: Now, if you ever need anything, you be sure to look us up on the web. (Hands me a postcard featuring one of his leather boy colleagues and the store's web address) We have lots of new items for the ladies!
Me: Thank you! I will!

A heartwarming end to a lovely family vacation. (And, incidentally, my poetry workshop kicked my ass in the best sense of the phrase. But that's a different kind of ass-whipping.)

5 Comments:

Blogger Poetnyc said...

E: Glad you had a positive workshop experience. Which one did you do? I have an MFA in poetry, so I've done more workshops than I care to remember. :)

9:19 AM  
Blogger E. said...

The workshop was with Rebecca Seiferle at the Fine Arts Work Center. She's a great teacher (as well as an amazing poet), and I recommend the FAWC highly in general.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Orange said...

That sounds like a great week in Provincetown, and terrific exposure to normalcy for the tot.

I'll be meeting a blogtopia friend this weekend when he and his husband are in town, and we're all going out to dinner. I told my kid we'd be dining with a man (who shares his birthday!) and the man's husband, and he didn't blink an eye. (My best friend and her partner are both women, so he gets that man/woman isn't the only combo out there.) The kid doesn't often back down from his convictions (even when he's totally wrong and his mom tells him so), so I'm hoping he'll be the cool kid in fourth grade who sticks up for gays and lesbians when some other kid wields gayness as an insult.

6:07 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Oh my god...I went to see "Urinetown" while you were IN pee-town!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That rocks. so. hard.

And then there's the poetry workshop, of which I'm excitedly jealous--I mean, excited for your good fortune and wishing I would get my head out of the clouds enough to look for something like that for fiction.

I always feel bad about the "anti-breeder" attitude, too. I find myself feeling, "I like YOU...please like me!" I'm a dork, though. It's understandable, but is still kinda sad. I'm so glad you had an overall wonderously grand time!

4:54 PM  
Blogger E. said...

I hope your kid is that kid come fourth grade, too, Orange (and mine as well). I am generally hopeful that homophobia will be a lot less acceptable in our kids' generation than our own.

Yeah, Lisa, I get that "I like you/please like me" thing. Then again, I too am a dork. (And I have recommendations for fiction workshops. Perhaps I'll shoot you an email.)

11:51 AM  

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