It’s late morning and I’m sitting at a place called The Katama General Store on Martha’s Vineyard. When Ryan and I arrived on Friday night from the ferry, we shared a taxi with a guy our age who was drinking a gin and tonic and told us, “It’s actually pronounced Ka-tame-ah.” Okay pal.
The sign in front of The Katama General Store reads: “Free Scones for all Presidents.” Obama is supposed to be here today and for the next two weeks. Must be wild to have the entire world know your vacation plans. People drive past the sign and stop in the middle of the road to take pictures of it. I just finished one of the scones, but I had to pay for it—I guess it’s true what they say: if you’re not the president, buy your own damn scones.
David Letterman drives by in his small yellow convertible, probably.
Ted Danson is on the island, we think.
A Jeep-full of girls cruises past with feet out the window. We all know it’s uncomfortable. Not to mention dangerous. But this is Martha’s Vineyard, where you don’t lock your bicycles, you leave your windows down when you park, and it’s the only place in Massachusetts where you can say hello to a stranger and it’s not weird. Bad things don’t happen here.
People are streaming in and out of The Katama General Store, buying sandwiches and coffees, and I’m out on the front porch, farting and wondering if even the great outdoors can’t mask my brand. I look around like a guilty toddler eating a candy bar, but no one seems to notice. Ryan and I were out last night. We waited in line at a place called The Port Hunter, where there was live music and six forty-year-old cougars who talked to us in line, and one by one, they edged in front of us. We got them back by letting it happen. We then made comments when they couldn’t hear. “No, please, after you.”
When I jokingly explained our misfortune to the bouncer, he said, “I think you guys are old enough to know what’s going on.” He was younger than us, which made his comment sting a little. It was as if he was scolding us, like we were his sons who touched a hot stove and complained about the burns. Yeah I know. I’ll stop crying. He may have been a local, and any time you’re on an island, the local vs. everyone line is pretty thick. So thick that kids think they can reprimand adults. And you know what, we’ll let him this time, but if he tries to rebuke me again so help me I will lose it!
After an hour of Port Hunting, we walked to The Shanty with two more added to our group: Courtney and Harry. No line, a DJ that we can dance to, and, is that Allie? From high school? I ask Ryan. He confirms the identity of our old high school buddy. We go talk to her, hug, dance, talk. We do a shot of bad tequila. It’s really bad. I think, am I going to throw up? But I don’t throw up because I’m a freaking champion. We dance. Someone spills beer on the dance floor and I push it around with my feet, turn it into a slip and slide, doing half splits in all directions, pointing at people, being a general menace. I do the crab-pincher-arms-dance through a crowd. A little after 1 a.m. we leave, Ryan and I hop on our bicycles, and we head home.
This morning I picked gravel out of my left palm and put my finger through the small hole in my new jeans. “That’s the wrong driveway!” Ryan yelled last night, a second too late. We were racing, although no one actually said that we were racing. (When you grow up playing competitive sports with someone, leisure activities naturally slide into competitions.) We turned onto his road, and picked up speed until we were both pedaling fast, the baskets on the front of the bike rattling as we hit little bumps. I turned sharply on the gravel of someone else’s driveway and went down. We sat there laughing about it.
“Any stories?!” Everyone asks us in the morning. Any stories from the night on the town? Not really, we say. Pretty standard night out.
I think that I’m tired of the routine—I’m tired of going to bars and doing the crab-arm dance. Looking around, wondering who in there is impressed by my weirdness. Thinking that maybe, one of these ladies will catch my eye and I will catch her eye, and we will hold each other’s eyes. It’s exhausting. But at the same time I hope that if I make it to seventy-five, I’ll be doing the crab-arm dance at weddings. Knocking someone’s beer on the floor “by accident,” and then shuffling around in the puddle. I don’t like routine, but I like routine. You figure it out—I’ve been trying.
Bart Tocci (’11) lives in Boston where he writes essays, performs at open mics, and threatens to start taco restaurants. He’s been told that he looks like the kind of guy who stands up for what’s right. And who goes to the store before the party. Read more here: barttocci.wordpress.com