Well, Roy and I have embarked upon our Annual Post-Term Pilgrimage to the Cape. “The Cape” for those of you who aren’t “lucky” enough to live this close to New York City, means “Cape Cod”. “The Vineyard” means “Martha’s Vineyard”. “The Rustic Wilds” means “The highly manicured grounds of cultural destinations like Tanglewood and Jacob’s Pillow”, and “The Sticks” refers either to any place in New Jersey, Westchester County New York, or – depending on just who you’re talking to – it may mean “Queens” or “Brooklyn”. “Staten Island” doesn’t actually qualify for mention.
So we make an annual pilgrimage to The Cape as the Books are closed on the academic year, because – as great the anticipation of undergraduate students face with the prospect of a summer break is, the anticipation of university professors faced with same is that am0unt, raised to the eighth degree. Thing is, undergrads either get to go home – in which case they wind up living with Mom and Dad, who treat our Man or Woman About Town as if they were once again 11 years old – or they wind up working summer jobs, internships, etc…all of which involve “work” and “uncertainty”. So much nicer to face down a summer break when you know exactly what you’re going to be doing all term (enjoying life, and working albeit much shorter hours than when school is in term) and what you’ll be doing four months from now (fielding hundreds of e-mails from undergrads, grading mountains of cases, papers, and homework, and attending meetings). I speak from a Great Deal of experience: summers as a faculty member beat the living daylights out of summers as a student.
Unless, of course, you’re a student with a silver spoon, and you’re going to be spending your summer in the Alps, or serving Worthwhile Causes in a scenic yet non-fatal-disease-infested relatively-parasite-free jungle.
Speaking of parasites, I had a Good One this week. Huey Not The Wonder Horse Today came up on Saturday morning with a strange bump on his neck. My first thought, as a New Horse Mom, was “OH NO! IT’S A HIDEOUS INFECTION THAT IS GOING TO REQUIRE INTENSIVE VETERINARY CARE!!” My second thought, as a Veteran Emergency Backup Parent of many children was “Probably a bug bite.” I checked in with another woman who boards at the barn. The Barn Owner, who as I have said before is a woman of rare common sense and evident disinclination towards Drama, would have been Choice Number One, but the time was not right, and the only other person around was Other Boarder.
“Hey, Other Boarder,” I said, “Can you take a look at this weird bump on Huey’s neck for me? Is that a bug bite?”
Other Boarder generously checked it out and concluded that it was probably a bug bite. But – in the way of Experienced Moms Everywhere – immediately went on to share a Perfectly Ghastly Horror Story about some kind of bizarre insects that bit her dog and laid some kind of egg in the dog’s skin. Other Boarder’s husband noticed that the dog was desperately trying to chew at some insect bite-like-lump on the dog’s back, summoned the dog, and gave the lump the kind of palpation that anyone would…
…only, in this case, he squeezed it and a parasite emerged from the lump. Some damned insect that lays its blasted eggs in the victim’s SKIN to have them hatch later, etc etc etc.
Naturally, as a New Horse Mom, I was INSTANTLY traumatized by this story. I regarded the bump on Huey’s neck with Absolute Shrinking Horror, and could not escape the thought of some ghastly parasite emerging, alien-like, from this bump, with a yawning gaping scream.
Other Boarder regarded this evolution.
“Probably that’s not it,” she said. “Probably it’s just an allergic thing.”
Well, probably. Probably covers a whole lot of ground, and as a statistician, I don’t know that I’m entirely comfortable with “probably”. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to consult the Barn Owner this morning on the subject, and she thought it was “probably” an insect bite too. Well, if I get back from vacation and find that Huey’s got a spare head, or there’s another creature that expects to share his feed bin, we’ll know that it’s not an insect bite.
In the meantime, I’m having nightmares about the blasted thing. I can deal with a lot of things, but insect eggs hatching in my skin, my cat’s skin, my horse’s skin, my husband’s skin, or the skin of any creature with whom I am associated in any way? NOT ON THE LIST>
Back to Glamorous Provincetown: International Mecca for the Gay Man of Distinction.
There are lesbians here, but not in the impressive numbers that my new home-town of Northampton yields. I can’t help thinking, sometimes, of Northampton as the Home of the Lesbian Soccer Moms. Roy has a passionate fondness for the armies of Lesbian Soccer Moms. He loves the idea of Provincetown (aka Queer City) but after a day or two he gets all creeped out by the vast numbers of men, and has to duck in to soak up the EstrogenFest at Womencrafts, the Great Lesbian Bookstore of Eastern Massachusetts.
While Provincetown is about as “gay friendly” as it is possible to be – I always feel a right odd-ball, as a member of an actual mixed-gender couple when dining out there – I would say that it is “gay” rather than “lesbian” friendly. Men (of any stripe) outnumber women (of any stripe) by a significant margin in this town. I’m fine with this, because where Roy gets a Contact Estrogen High, I ❤ the energy of Gay Men. It takes all kinds in this world, and my kind – to some degree – likes to slug down frilly tropical drinks while shaking some major booty to 80s disco. A tendency to shriek, and to use words like “FABULOUS” in common speech, is a real plus.
So here we go. The place we rack up in Provincetown is FABULOUS. The rooms are FABULOUS – for instance, our bathroom has a whirlpool tub from which you can view the gas fireplace with one eye, while watching television with the other. The pool is FABULOUS and has a FAB ULOUS spray thingy that arcs through the air – and is decorated with over-sized rubber duckies, one of which – I swear I am not making this up – is wearing a sailor suit. WITH HAT. It also, in what I always think of as a nod to Kinky Friedman, has a faux alligator head floating around in the pool. The FABULOUS sauna is situated adjacent to a four-foot-tall Buddha head, which I discovered this afternoon, serves as a fountain.
It does not GET more FABULOUS than this.
The inn hosts a FABULOUS wine-and-cheese hour – this evening, held next to the pool with an honest-to-God Cabana Boy (I did say it was Fabulous). And after – tonight – we found ourselves at Ground Zero Most Happening Spot in Provincetown (and although it is Monday, and completely dead here, it is something to say that you’re at the Most Happening Spot in Provincetown even so). Why? Because it is Restaurant Week (a much more attractive proposition here than it is in Northampton, when it is thelast week during which I want to dine out). And our inn, which has a – yes – FABULOUS restaurant, and tonight is the night they chose to Unveil The Summer Menu. Which – for us, and for all of the Provincetown Hip (not Hipsters, thank heavens), meant a stream of circulating (free) hors d’ouevres and a FABULOUS milieu. It really was rather like being at a fun, fabulous wedding.
The vast majority of guests at this function were men, to no one’s surprise but Roy.
We renewed our acquaintance with a few Serial Guests of this inn – it was oddly like the Pensione Bertolini – with the Vicar, the Lady Novelist, The Ingenue, the Chaperone, and the rest. And a few individuals who come to this inn at the same time every year. Among whom we, now, apparently number. It was a strange, unusual, fun, and – yes- fabulous experience to meet back up with the same people with whom we spent Wine and Cheese Hour last year as well.
And after that, we adjourned to the Squealing Pig (no, really, that is the name of the pub) for some of that Slimy Grey Gold from the Ocean Floor: The Wellfleet Oyster.
This is never the Wellfleet oyster. Or just the oyster. Or even a Wellfleet oyster.
It is only, ever, The Wellfleet Oyster.
This, in my not so humble opinion, is the Finest Oyster ever to hatch in an oyster ground. Or anywhere, really. Wellfleet Oysters are the perfect size – not too small, not so huge you feel as if you are inhaling mythical monster. They’re the perfect flavor: oystery, but not delivering on the Ocean Floor Experience that you get with some oysters, and virtually all whole-belly clams. They are lively without being excessively organic. They are the ideal oyster.
They are such an Ideal Oyster that I find I have to constrain my own behavior. I will consume them only in two places: one the Cape, and at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station. I will have to make a separate post sometime about that Oyster Bar, but it should speak volumes for that place that I am willing to consume The Wellfleet Oyster on the premises. Otherwise, the closer the restaurant to Wellfleet, the better. The best place, in my opinion, is to eat Wellfleet Oysters at the Wellfleet Bookstore. I will say more on this subject later, but for now, know that when dining at the Wellfleet Bookstore, you are gazing out at the world-fabled Wellfleet Oyster Beds, right there. And, inasmuch as the best possible place to dine on Maine Lobster is from a location where one can actually see the lobster traps, the best place in which to dine on Wellfleet Oysters is from a location where one can actually see the oyster beds.
There is a lot of information about why the Wellfleet beds deliver such a quality oyster. If you want to know, just google it: wellfleet oyster.
So here we are, at the Squealing Pig, drinking the house draft, names “PigSwill”, and inhaling Wellfleet Oysters by the half-dozen. Or, rather, I am inhaling these things. Roy refuses to indulge for Religous Reasons. My feeling is this: If there is a God to care about thinks like that, s/he created the Wellfleet Oyster, and it would be wrong of me to refuse to experience them and to deliver praise where praise is due. Dining restrictions cooked up by Desert Tribes don’t hold a lot of water for me. Or, as a wise person once said, “It’s all relative. Wellfleet Oysters are kosher…in Wellfleet.” Let us say: Amen.
Looking forward to taking a zillion pictures of this unbelievably picturesque locale. And, of course, inhaling a few more of God’s Grey Slimy Ocean Gold.
Recipe of the Week:
Drive to the Cape.
Stop at the Wellfleet Bookstore, or, if you must, travel on to Provincetown.
Find an establishment that advertises Wellfleet Oysters, in BIG LETTERS on the outside of the building.
Enter, and order a half-dozen, and a beer. IPAs, Pilsners, and Lagers are the best. Try to pick something local, or from no further away than Vermont. Steer clear of Samuel Adams, because there are better beers to be had.
Wait while someone else shucks the oysters.
When they arrive, squeeze the lemon all over the Grey Slimy Goodness. Check to ensure that oysters are free of the shell. Inhale.
Order another half-dozen. Rinse, lather, repeat, until the money is all gone.