My dad’s family is from Rhode Island, and I have a lot of childhood summer memories of hanging out at my grandparents’ in Narragansett. And, as childhood memories tend to, a lot of mine revolve around food. Lobster rolls, steamers, chowder, johnny cakes and coffee milk all figure heavily, but the big one is clam cakes. Clam cakes are basically fritters (but they are not “clam fritters”, which are different); smallish lumps of dough studded with chopped clams and deep fried. You buy them by the dozen in paper bags from small roadside takeout places and eat a couple before you get them home, because they’re best when they’re hot. I don’t have much family in Rhode Island any more (my grandmother died and my grandfather moved to Florida), so I was hoping that this trip might be my chance to fill up on all the foods I miss. I did okay for most things, but it turns out you simply can’t get clam cakes in Massachussetts. Which is somewhat insane to me; I mean, it’s about as far from Cape Cod to Rhode Island as it is from here to San Jose, but people look at you like you’re asking about some kind of bizzare foreign dish. Anyway, this is my very long way of saying that I had a plate of steamers (pronounced “steamuhs”, the one of only times I affect a New England accent) for lunch, at a place reccommended by the salesguy at the Marc Jacobs store. (It was across the street.) So it wasn’t exactly the same, but at least I got some drawn butter in the deal.
After lunch I wandered some more, and then I decided that what I wanted was a pedicure. And no sooner did I decide that than I came upon a salon/spa, which is the kind of coincidence that I suspect happens a lot in Provincetown. The girl who did my nails was a twenty-one year old who had moved to Provincetown from Eureka when she was fourteen. I got the impression there had been a certain amount of culture shock. But she seemed like she had adjusted pretty well, and was now being kept as kind of a pet by the passle of gay men who made up the management and the rest of the employees of the salon. They seemed to like to do things like send down the vaguely creepy guy who wanted to know why she hadn’t called him back after he called her in the middle of the night and if she maybe wanted to go for a beach ride. He seemed to have an inkling that doing this while she was working on my toes was perhaps in some way inappropriate, but darn it, he had something to say and he was going to say it. She told him she’d call him back. She told me she wouldn’t.
It occurs to me that if you were a traveler and you wanted to get a sense of the real place you were visiting, you could do worse than to find a local salon and get your nails done.
On Saturday night I had an early dinner and then stayed in. I know, how dull and unadventurous and generally me of me, but as far as I could see there isn’t a whole lot for a solo straight girl to do in Provincetown at night. I have a deeply-held aversion to karaoke and the local theater company’s current production was “The Goat (Or Who Is Sylvia)”, which I saw when ACT did it a couple of years ago and, frankly, once was enough. So I stayed in and watched reruns of Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel and frankly, I don’t have a problem with that.