Dolphin With Rabies

Life on beautiful Cape Cod.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Memories of my youth

I have these memories of Cape Cod that don't quite fit with modern day reality. While much of the Cape stays the same year after year, some of it has changed significantly. Here's the Cape Cod I remember that no longer exists,

Poor Cape Cod.
I grew up in the "poor" section of a particular town on Cape Cod. I'm using that term very loosely, perhaps "not elite" would be a better way of putting it. It wasn't the mean streets or anything like that. But the houses were little ranches, and the pines were scrub, and the soil was sandy and there was tons of space, too much space as far as I was concerned. I wanted to be able to easily ride my bike somewhere other than the local golf course.

There was an overgrown cranberry bog nearby that I could easily reach if I cut through the neighbor's woods. The local stores were sort of run down and set on cracking asphalt, you could see the grass growing up between the cracks.

Today, you can still see the little ranches, but you also see plenty of mini-mansions. There's two houses now instead of one on the property I used to cut through and I don't know either one of the families who lives there. Sometimes when I go into town I want to laugh because the decaying stores I remember have been gentrified by fresh paint and pots of flowers. My old town is prettier beyond a doubt, but somehow less real.

Sleazy Cape Cod
If you haven't been to Provincetown before, make sure you visit Shop Therapy. That's one of the few proper outposts of sleaze left on the Cape. I remember going to Shop Therapy in my teens with some friends and getting into the adult section. Past the bongs and rolling papers was a display of the different vibrators they offered, each mounted by its base in an individual plexiglass case. On the outside of the plexiglass case was a button, and when you pushed the button, the mounted vibrator proceeded to...well..vibrate. It was quite entertaining to a pack of sixteen year olds. If I remember correctly, most of the vibrators were restrained in their movements, but one of them had this energetic sideways action going. Hee!

Hilarity ensued until we were chased out of the store, still giggling and pointing. Oh my, what snots we were! Unfortunately, that display is gone now. I am quite distressed to this day that Shop Therapy no longer demonstrates their vibrators in this fashion, it really was something worth showing to visitors.

Don't get me wrong, Provincetown still has a lot of sex but it's a bit slicker these days and a lot of it is less accessible to the uninitiated. I've been in Toys of Eros with a couple of friends that are part of the B&D scene. I am not fond of Toys, and I find it difficult to pinpoint why. I don't like shopping for real at sleazy places (despite enjoying the entertaining sleaze of Shop Therapy), but Toys tends to feel a bit too much like an urban nightclub for my taste. While I was with my friends I felt a tiny bit like the hick cousin. There was a serious discussion with the store clerk about the relative merits of different corsets. I felt like I was in a class where I hadn't done the homework and was hoping no one would call upon me. I can't really add anything to such a discussion other than, "Blue's such a pretty color. Why don't you get the one in blue?" (Interestingly, Toys of Eros has a sister store called Wild Hearts that is woman only and has a very different feel. Much more fun, much less intimidating, probably the store sites have a lot to do with it.)

A sleazy store that went respectable and has now vanished off the map was the Head & Foot Shop. I remember when that place was called the Head & Foot Shop because they sold rolling papers, pipes and "wild" shoes. It gradually acquired more and more sportswear, and got rid of the head shop stuff altogether when it became illegal to sell it in Massachusetts. Now it's gone. Let that be a lesson to all you stores trying to move past your sleaziness!

Some of it is me of course. When I was a teenager on Cape, I sought out sleaziness because I confused it with adulthood. In a fairly safe way, but I sought it out all the same. I hung out with a girlfriend at "Snatch Alley" (lovely name, eh?) a public beach, and we had much older guys try to pick us up, usually by asking us if we wanted to get high. We never took any of them up on it, we were just young enough that getting the attention was the main thing.

There is this whole other side of life that you see when you're a teenager and seeking experience. Well, maybe "other side of life" is the wrong way of putting it. In a nutshell, you get to see who is outwardly respected but is willing to offer drugs to sixteen-year olds. The people that don't have the drugs offered to them never know that the person they respect has this aspect to them. I'm sure it all goes on today but it's mostly invisible to me now.

And of course, my priorities have changed. It used to be a Big Thrill, 'lo these many years ago to go to one of the Chinese restaurants with poor liquor ID enforcement, and have the one legal person in the group order a Scorpion Bowl while the rest of us surreptiously sipped off it. This was a late night expedition, when things were getting a bit loose and alwaysy accompanied by a Pu Pu Platter. Nowadays, the people that you see in late night restaurants sort of scare me, the poor quality of food that you get in a sleazy Chinese restaurant is a big waste of money, and goddam it, I'll order my own damn Scorpion Bowl if I want one.