PeaceBang in P'Town
This trip was famous in my little world for two reasons.
First, my sister sang "No Other Love Like Mine" in her sleep in a Chatham hotel room (including the piano "da da da daaa" between "you'll never find" and "another love like mine") and gave me one of the best laughs of my life. She was 12 or 13.
Second, my parents took us to Provincetown for lunch. Here's how I remember it. After we parked the car on some sandy outlying street, my father turned around to give the three of us a little talking-to that went something like this:
"Now listen to me. We are going to a get out of the car and go have lunch here, and you are to behave yourselves. This is a very different kind of place, and the people here are different than you're used to. You are not to stare, to giggle, or to make any comments, do you understand?"
We sat like three little owls.
"People come to this town to be themselves. This is their special place and we are the visitors. If I hear so much as one snicker from you, we are coming right back to this car, period, end of report. Is that understood?"
We looked at my mom. She made a little nod of agreement with Dad.
Whoa. We had NO idea what was going on.
After promising to be on our very best behavior, we cautiously slid out of the Oldsmobile. We walked along very softly and carefully, like we were hunting wabbits.
Within probably a block or two, we saw two tanned, slim, oiled up Speedo gents walking along with their arms wrapped around each other. Then we saw some more. We saw women in overalls, kissing. We were very well-behaved little owls and I don't remember the lunch but I'm sure it was tasty.
The thing is, my Dad was perfectly comfortable making a limp wrist on occasion and calling someone else "Bruce" in a lisping voice as a joke. He didn't do this a lot, but he did it. He also, though, tenderly sat me down when I was 14 years old and had a terribly painful crush on Chris Kondub (who was playing the Emcee in our production of "Cabaret" and was a wickedly talented 19 year old) and explained to me that Chris wasn't ever going to like me "that way." He explained to me that a lot of the guys I was going to have crushes on in the theatre just didn't like girls, and there was nothing I could do about it. And he grieved for me. His Daddy-sweetness about that particular issue got me through a lot of subsequent terrible crushes on gay men. His general term for boys who didn't return my affection was "loser" or "schmuck," but for the gay boys, never. It was just, "Oh honey, don't break your heart on him. It's not going to happen."
My mother, of course, has always been 100% down with the homosexuals.
So I'm going off to spend a week in Gay Mecca, and as I drive into town, I will certainly remember Carl D. and the infamous talking-to of 1977. Many of the Speedo gents of that era are long gone, bless their souls, as is DaddyBang. I wish he had lived to know that his daughter performs gay weddings and advocates for civil rights for gays. I could trace it all back to that moment in the car. And he'd probably say, "Honey, that's great. But you're not still getting crushes on them, are you?"
No, Dad. I'm not. Although you should know that they've been the most loyal, affectionate, supportive and loving men in my life, all my life since you've been gone.