Previously, on the Midnight Garden: It was Summer. It was Hot. Marc and Jess and their friends came to Provincetown, and Greg enjoyed a faux Outer Cape vacation, with gelato and gallery crawls and drag shows and er’thing. Remember? You thought I forgot.
It’s interesting how things happen. I guess usually Life is pretty random, but every once in a while you can watch the dominos tumbling, linking one thing to the next. To whit, while “carousing” around P-Town during the Guys’ vacation week, we attended a Moonlight Barbecue (Half) Birthday celebration, where my New York friends introduced me to our hosts who are from Provincetown, which in turn led me to reunite with a friend I’d lost track of after moving up-Cape years ago. Old friends, new friends: one of my favorite themes.
The fellows and I hit it off quick enough when they thought I was another of the NY guys (which technically I am, but from way back), but when they realized we shared common non-tourist status, we were on track to be great friends. As August unfurled like a magnificent dahlia (you thought I was going to say something else, didn’t you?), we found a few occasions to get together here and there for a cocktail and a few laughs.
As is sometimes the case on the Outer Cape in high summer, the talk turned to Carnival Parade, which I was particularly looking forward to. Carnival is, one might say, the sweet bastard love child of Gay Pride and Mardi Gras – a gloriously spectacular afternoon of glitter and beads and confetti and music and pretty boys and wicked girls and saucy queens and sweaty dancing men in the summer sun. Seriously, what’s not to love?
In the thirteen years I’ve lived hereabouts, I’ve only had the pleasure of attending the parade four or five times. Since even the times I went and the day totally sucked I still had an absolutely amazing time, I’d decided last year that my new tradition was to never miss the parade again and maybe work at being just a little more than another one of the 50,000 spectators who crowd into this little seaside town to see it all, in the bargain. We all wanna be in the show a little, don’t we?
So I started scheming and brainstorming about the theme for the 2010 revels, Jungle Fantasy. What to do, what to do? You can usually count on it to be a pretty hot and sunny afternoon and there’s not much in the way of shade for hiding (although one can always duck into some bar or other to escape the sun and rehydrate), so a hat of some kind seemed wise. Easier done than said: I already had a pithe helmet, perfect for the theme, but how to bring it up to speed for the occasion? One afternoon at work, it all suddenly occurred to me and I started scribbling lists.
A leisurely visit to a local craft supply store helped me gather the right raw materials for the project. A styrofoam egg, a few different sheets of felt, hot glue sticks, some faux pothos vines, duct tape, some waxy things called Wikki Stiks and a can of spray glitter. I’d complete the outfit with a pair of camouflage cargo shorts (with pockets for keys, extra camera batteries, cash and er, what-have-you), a vaguely explorer-y vest and probably not enough sunscreen.
It was all starting to make sense to me, but it wasn’t until I had everything arrayed on the dining room table and I turned on the Little Shop of Horrors soundtrack and I started cutting into styrofoam with a steak knife that it all started to become clear how things might come together.
It’s all just a blur of questions and challenges, now. How to keep the styrofoam from A) crumbling and 2) melting in the face of the hot glue? Proof why they don’t call it lukewarm glue. “Oh, that‘s why you bought the Wikki Stiks…” Giggling like a loon in the fumes of the spray glitter. And so on.
Two or three hours later, there was Lil’ Audrey reborn, the sole bloom on a vine of pothos that twined around my newly-glittered pithe helmet. I did some testing, to make sure she was pretty secure (and not too heavy), cranking up a little disco and dancing around some, knowing how Carnival can be. She moved a little, forward and back – enough to imply life, but seemed tight. Ah, but there was something missing.
I cursed myself for not picking up a couple of the pretty faux butterflies I’d been admiring in the craft store: I needed Prey. After a few minutes fuming and stewing, I reached deep into a closet and found exactly what I needed in a box of Christmas decorations, and I knew I could rest.
[I’m glad I took these pictures, because- as you’ll see – it turns out many of the other pictures I was in that day were taken by people who cropped the top of my hat off in their composition. Eyeroll, head/desk. I’m told there’s another shot or two of me in the hat that came out well, but I’ve not yet seen those. But I’m glad I have these, since Audrey escaped during the After Parade Tea Dance at the Boatslip and hasn’t been seen since. While it’s true I stress-tested her for dancing, I apparently didn’t test her for dancing to Lady Gaga.]
I was trying to sort out the logistics of the day. With so many people converging on Provincetown, you can be sure that the traffic nightmare extends far up Cape. Even though the parade doesn’t step off until late afternoon, waking up in my own bed in Orleans on parade morning seemed a bad idea. That could work, I figured, if I took the bus, but the last one to leave town goes so quickly after the parade concludes, there’s hardly time to have fun.
Driving seemed a dubious suggestion at best, considering the lack of parking (*)…and then my new friends sweetly offered not only their Fabulous Blue Leather couch to sleep upon, but part of their driveway for parking. It is for this reason I discreetly conceal the identities of these most generous souls here, although I concede the Fabulous Blue Leather couch is kind of unique, as identifiers go. I’m not the only blogger who’s passed a night there, after all.
I enjoy the whole summer night atmosphere of PTown. Just people watching on Commercial Street can be hours and hours of entertainment with folks of every flavor and kink and persuasion populating the landscape. Barkers shout their shows and hawk their menus while street musicians of every variety provide a soundtrack in the quiet spaces between the storefronts that spill disco or hot jazz standards out into the summer night. Rainbow flags hang over the street from one end to the other.
Sizing the photo above took away some legibility, I think, so allow me to point out the signs above read “The GODdess approves. The original Jungle Fantasy: Adam and Steve. The Jungle of Eden.” This is particularly noteable because – as you will see – for a lot of other people, Jungle Fantasy seemed to be about inflatable monkeys.
Fun to have a few pals to gad about town with and I enjoyed taking in some of the local nightlife and having a couple of cocktails. There are pros and cons to every situation, and I found myself a little non-plussed that more than once someone thought suggesting we cheat on his lover was the way in to a conversation with me. If they’d been a smidge more sober (and me even less so), perhaps I’d have found that flattering. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for full disclosure right up front. And, please DO NOT blow your cigarette smoke in my face.
Ah, well. Whether or not I’m quite ready to jump into the deep end of the dating pool yet, it was still a fun night and there’s nothing like ending an evening of drinking and dancing with some great pizza from Spiritus, where nearly everyone finds themselves once Last Call arrives at 1:00 a.m.
The Fabulous Blue Leather couch was comfy and as always, morning came too quickly (and with the fumes of hot glue from the still-nascent Carnival costume of my host), and as I enjoyed coffee in the early sun, I handled the watering duties in my hosts lovely and abundant deck garden, in lieu of my own home watering duties (I’d given everything there an extra drink before departing the night before and was hoping for the best).
And I enjoyed the gardener’s holiday, a chance to poke around amongst someone else’s potted lovelies and see what their plants were doing, what hidden surprises their garden might offer. Strawflowers, bush-style morning glories, darling dahlias….
….freshly spray-painted pumps, drying in the morning sun…
Yes, all over town, you could feel the anticipation. Once the watering as done, I struck out to wander around a bit and see what the morning had to offer as I addressed a minor errand or two.
Compared to the honky-tonk evenings, morning in PTown can be sort of peaceful and quiet. Boats and ships of a variety of sizes are plying the harbor waters, their horns and bells echoing on the breeze. All the delivery trucks are making their way along Commercial Street before the traffic of later in the day. Plenty of the people who are making their way up and down the street actually know one another.
But on Carnival morning, things were already seriously hopping. I blessed my hosts once more for their driveway space, as I passed (*)parking lot after parking lot already packed with cars and sporting CLOSED signs before ten a.m. Those that did have space available were displaying $50 rates where $10-20 might normally apply. I watched people lash lawn chairs to storm grates to reserve their spots for a parade that wouldn’t start for seven hours.
Stores were selling animal prints in every color and design and style, real and imagined. I stopped into one shop and bought a few strands of beads, a couple of starter strands for myself and a couple others to share around as the day unfolded.
Huzzah! Inflatable monkeys!!
After a bit of walkabout, it was back to Home Base to rendezvous for a bit with the hosts and some friends. There were, after all, details to be addressed. Last minute runs to the store for panty hose and nail polish. Pretty boys who needed loinclothes sewn onto/around them. A lunch invitation in the East End.
You see, while Facebook friend-ing my new real world friends, I discovered my long-lost friend and former work colleague, Etta. We reconnected on FB and then agreed to get together somehow in relation to the day’s festivities, which then grew into a lunch party at Etta and her girl Flavia’s place, with an assortment of their peeps.
What a treat to renew our friendship and to meet some new folks in the bargain. And there was a terrific mid-day meal, a smart choice for Parade Day, with plenty of liquid refreshment on the side to keep us from…uh, parch-ment.
After lunch, they sent me around to the street to see if the parade was anywhere on the horizon yet, and so off I went. In searching for that, of course, it should come as no surprise at all that I found plenty of other gardens to delight in.
As I have tried to chronicle in other summers, there is no lack for stunning gardens and beautiful vistas in Provincetown, and I am nothing if not easily distracted by them.
I was really sort of impressed with the way this gladiola blossom seemed to mimic a butterfly.
And look! I’m totally not kidding about the inflatable monkeys. They were everywhere. It shouldn’t have been such a surprise, if I’d thought about it. But who thinks about that?
Here’s another shot of me with the helmet cropped, as I posed with this lovely lady from Texas. I was chatting with she and her partner while waiting for the parade to appear and we had a terrific visit. I”m afraid their names are lost to me, but champagne in the afternoon and the hot sun and almost seven months time under the bridge since then may have something to do with that.
I do recall that they were friends of Annise Parker, newly-elected (first ever gay) mayor of Houston and they were taking photos to share with her of everything they were enjoying about their Provincetown vacation.
And then, over the roar and the babble of an excited crowd full of anticipation, we heard the rising howl and whoop of a police siren, distant applause…and the thump and hiss of Disco on a seabreeze: The Parade had begun.