There is a wonderful little town at the very tip of Cape Cod known as Provincetown. It’s a town where everyone is accepted for who and what they are. It’s this incredibly accepting attitude that makes Provincetown completely fascinating to me. It’s not simply that it’s a home for every sexuality, it’s a haven for people of all types who have difficulty fitting in anywhere else.
My own staff looks like a convention of minorities of all types. I have gays, lesbians, transgenders, straights, Asian, African, Jamaican, Eastern European, and probably every other sub group you can think of. But it doesn’t matter who or what you are. If you can do the job, you have the job, and if you can’t, it’s time to move on. It’s a great feeling to know you only need to be concerned with competence, and not any of that other silly stuff.
Of course, this diversity does bring its own special challenges. There’s a lot of drama in P-town, and everything—I mean everything—is over the top. It’s fun when your short order cook is a six-foot-four drag queen. It’s interesting when a member of your maintenance team is transgender and you’re never really sure from day to day which gender is going to show up. Are you Sal today or Sally? I’m not sure how to react when a beautiful girl walks by and I sneak an admiring look and then notice that my female general manager is doing exactly the same thing. Maybe she and I should go out for a drink and see if we can meet some women. (Oops, can’t do that anymore. Sometimes I forget how lucky I am that the Lovely Louise is in control.)
In 2010 I decided to bring Louise to the Carnival Parade in Provincetown. It’s a wonderful celebration of the various lifestyles prevalent in the town, and everyone has an amazing time. I arranged for seats right in front of Town Hall, where we wouldn’t miss anything, and settled in to watch the show about two hours before the actual parade. The pre-parade shenanigans were even more entertaining than the parade itself.
Louise looked up Commercial Street and said “Oh dear.” Then she turned and looked the other way down the street and said “Oh, dear, dear!” Maybe they don’t have a Provincetown in England. Finally, she turns to me to make a statement of her observations. “Why is it that gay men seem to wear everything they own or nothing at all?” Good question, I reply. Perhaps you should ask them. And she proceeds to do exactly that.
When Louise is curious, she just wants to know the answer. We went to a drag queen show, and she kept insisting that the performers were women. Nothing I could say would convince her that they were men dressed as women. Eventually I suggested that she look for an adam’s apple, which would clearly identify the person as male. As she continued to stare, she turned to me and said, “But where to they keep their goolies [British slang for a man’s private parts]?” I told her they taped them back between their legs. I know she didn’t believe me, because as we were leaving we saw several of the performers greeting the audience in the lobby, and Louise went right up to one and asked the question that was on her mind. As I recall, the answer was something like “Oh honey, aren’t you nice to ask! We just tape them back up between our legs!” Finally satisfied, we were able to leave.
Another day, Louise and I were having a cocktail at the bar at the Crown and Anchor restaurant. At one of the tables sat a group of about seven women, some of whom were extraordinarily attractive, and I couldn’t help but steal a glance their way every now and then. At one point a very large, very tough looking woman stood up when Louise went to the ladies room and walked over to me to tell me to stop staring at her girlfriend. I was more afraid of her than of any guy who ever confronted me in a bar, so I just said I was sorry and waited for Louise to come back. Time to move on.
If you should ever get an opportunity to visit Provincetown, don’t hesitate, just go. There are amazing art galleries featuring artists of all types. The stores offer items you just won’t find anywhere else, along with every tourist memento you’ve ever seen. Old book stores, a fabulous Portuguese bakery, salt water taffy, and ice cream are all to be found along the main drag (oops, perhaps I shouldn’t say “drag”). Which reminds me that you can find Drag Karaoke in town, featuring Anita Cocktail, who makes a very attractive woman … er, man … ah, whatever. She looks great, sings great, and puts on a great show. Stop in and have some fun.
Can’t leave my town without saying something about food. If you have a restaurant and your food is only average, you’re not going to survive in P-town. We know food, and you won’t find big chains here; no one would eat there. We’re completely spoiled, with food as good as you can find anywhere.
So take the ferry over from Boston or drive out to the tip and see one of the most wonderful and interesting towns in all of America. Let me know when you’re coming, and you can buy me a drink. Just don’t let me stare at anyone who might or might not be a woman.