CAMP Talk: Angst for the Memories
|by Bill Sievert|
Now, loyal reader, it is time for a brief review of the 1999 season. As I leaf through the back pages of my own columns as well as the epistles of several other esteemed women and men of Letters, it becomes clear that the last 120 have been anything but lazy days of summer.
As the season began, columnist Fay and partner Bonnie were moving to Rehoboth full-time, or at least they were attempting to make their move. With all their earthly possessions already on board a van traveling from Maryland, our heroines discovered that the builder of their new home had forgotten to acquire an occupancy permit (and a plumbing inspection) and hadn't finished insulating the ceiling. For more than a week, the women became nomads, driving up and down Route One in search of a place to lay their weary heads. Fortunately, the traffic was usually so snarled on Route One that they could take long naps in the passing lane.
I also tackled the traffic tie-ups on Route One and wrote of the parking hassles in downtown Rehoboth. I indicated that our fair city was finally making progress toward a convenient public garage. Well, forget that. A poll of tax-fearing commercial property owners (not business owners) drew a negative response, and that was enough for proponents on the City Commission to back down once again. The only good news is that none of those friendly folks who make their summer livings by posting yellow tickets on our windshields will get pink slips. I'll not soon forget the portly ticket writer who responded to my complaint that a meter he was patrolling had eaten several of my quarters without giving me even a minute's time. The kindly gent first cautioned me that I had no choice but to "keep feeding money" into the machine. I restated my case that the U.S. Mint could not coin enough quarters to satisfy this particular meter. Then, launching into a sing-song voice to the approximate tune of "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead," the meter man grinned, kicked up a heel and skipped down the street, crooning, "You're gonna get a ticket, you're gonna get a ticket!"
Restaurant reporter Barry managed to find places to park for his difficult assignments of probing the cuisine at Espuma ("amazing flavors"), Cloud 9 ("wonderful") and A Taste of Heaven ("divine"). Rather like Will Rogers, all summer long Barry never met a meal he didn't like.
Writer Glen discovered that his body is "an important part of who I am as a person" and explored several "alternative healing modalities," including reflexology, magnet therapy and "Achy, Breaky, Reiki." Despite his experiments with New Age health therapies, Glen soon found himself in the hospital with a good old fashioned kidney stone, a heaping supply of pharmaceutical pain killers, and a big pile of doctor's bills.
I don't like "Doctor" Laura's anti-gay bigotry and took her to task in a column. While her radio rants continue unabated, our local carrier WGMD decided to begin broadcasting frequent, and nicely worded, disclaimers demonstrating the station's support for the diversity of its listening audience.
In June, youth columnist Kristen came out to her parents, creating the kind of family angst that Dr. Laura thrives on. Kristen temporarily turned over her column to high-school pal Adam, who came out to his parents, creating the kind of family angst that Dr. Laura adores. Fortunately for Kirsten, Adam, and countless other young people, such family brouhaha is normally short-lived, which makes Dr. Laura sad and bitter.
Barry took on bitter endive and similar treats at La La Land ("delicate"), Our Place ("tantalizing") and Sydney's ("absolutely fabulous"). He still had not met a meal he didn't like.
I took on the falsehood that the Millenium is changing this New Year's, but almost no one cared. The entire planet seems to have continued with plans to spendor makea fortune toasting a non-existent event. One local man intends to travel to Las Vegas to see Barbra for $1,000 on New Year's Eve, Bette for $1500 on New Year's night. Some people simply have too much money.
Fay and Bonnie finally declared "squatters' rights" and sneaked into their new home on a heavily trafficked street. They soon discovered how many "drive by" acquaintances in a small town were keeping a watchful eye on themchiding them for sleeping late, encouraging them to weed their lawn, even reminding them that they had failed to roll out their can on trash pick-up day.
In July, I chided the giant utility company Conectiv for failing to provide sufficient power to the people of our resort community during the Fourth of July heat wave, instigating troublesome rolling blackouts without notice. Lots of other people complained, too, leading to a full-scale and ongoing investigation by the Public Utilities Commission into Conectiv's possible negligence.
Next, I took on the divisiveness and jealousy created by the best pet on the beach competition, and I was right. The contest must have been rigged, or so our precious little Nikki thinks. Why, she didn't even make the top five. Sniff.
Fay and Bonnie had a garage sale and were asked by a frail, elderly woman whether their "vacuum sucked."
I discussed the need for more services for our aging lesbian and gay population, including senior housing alternatives. Another good idea might be an old-fashioned cafeteria. It would feature inexpensive and simply prepared dishes (mashed potatoes and Jell-O) for those folks who can no longer digest the rich cream sauces or heavy cheese toppings (the subject of another of my columns) favored by so many of our local eateries.
Luckily, Barry still has a stomach of steel. Having savored more multi-course meals at The Buttery ("creative") and Plumb Loco ("perfect."), he has yet to meet a morsel he doesn't like.
I don't like cell phones, particularly the ways they interrupt the tranquility of our resortincluding in restaurants. The weekend the article appeared, a man seated at a table next to me in a local bistro got an incoming call on his pocket phone. He spent so much time jabbering with the caller that his dinner companion got up and walked out on him. Ha! That was a heaping serving of just what the man deserved.
So, there you have it. The year of 1999 in a nutshellpecan encrusted with almond vinaigrette. Let's hope that next summerthe final season of the milleniumis every bit as tasty.
By the way, dear reader, it is possible for you to relive in detail all of this past season's adventures among Letters writers by perusing the back issues of this publication on line at www.camprehoboth.com. That is if you haven't already had enough of our perfect angst for one millennium.
Bill Sievert is co-owner of Splash, a clothing and accessories store on Baltimore Avenue, and the Program Director of CAMPsafe, CAMP Rehoboths AIDS education and prevention program.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 9, No. 13, Sept. 17, 1999