CAMP Talk: Ah To Be a Tourist
by Bill Sievert
A lot of visitors tell me how lucky I am to live at the beach and how much they would like to move to the area permanently. In many ways life in Rehoboth Beach is a wonderful experience, but it is often frustrating to be a local during the peak summer months. There are momentssuch as when a customer in my store raves about a fabulous concert I missed or about how lovely it was dining in La La Land's bamboo garden the previous eveningthat I'm ready to scream, "I just want to be a tourist again!"
It has been 16 years since John and I purchased our first home and set up shop here. As our town has grown and prospered, we've seen a dramatic increase in the number of cultural and entertainment options available to us. The rise in opportunity seems to correlate quite closely to the decreasing number of events we've been able to attend.
I don't mean to whine (not much), but the problem with moving to a beach community stems from the fact that the most humdrum and annoying aspects of life still go on. While you vacationers are out playing, we still have to find time to do our laundry, wash the car, take the dog to the groomer and get a colonoscopy. What's worse, except for select retirees, most of us who reside here still have to earn a living. Whether we're butchers, bakers or candle shopkeepers, the majority of us work long summer hours, particularly on weekends and holidays because that's when more of you lucky tourists come into town. And, because you pack the town on weekends and holidays, that's when the most exciting social events are usually scheduled.
As a result, we have to "just say no" to countless afternoon tea dances ("gotta work"), evening party invitations ("pulling a double shift"), morning brunches ("no clean undies") and afternoons in the sand ("the car's in the shop for a muffler"). As if we didn't have enough work and quotidian chores, many of you choose to stay with us, leaving behind even more laundry and dirty dishes when you dash off to catch a wave or a concert by the Washington, D.C. Gay Men's Chorus.
It's okay, though. We tend to live vicariously through your good times. As beach residents, we are happy when those of you who visit us are satisfied. It's good for our economy and our futures. We bide our time, dreaming of a day when we finally have a chance to catch up on all the things we've missed. I just can't wait to finally ride a jet ski when I'm 73 years old.
Many of us slightly jealous folks who reside in these parts are flabbergasted when one of you out-of-towners says, "Gee, there's nothing to do here but sit on the beach all day and eat and drink all night." Although that itinerary (plus a little shopping) sounds pretty good to me, the Rehoboth-Dewey-Lewes metro area offers far more intriguing opportunities for fun, particularly in the arts. Some are so attractive that I've persuaded several of my fellow merchants to "play hooky" a couple times in the coming weeks so we can enjoy ourselves alongside the rest of you:
The Henlopen Theater Project has really sprung to life this year with a solid lineup of plays, including J for J, based on the diaries of the late actor Barry Sullivan as co-written and featuring his daughter, Jenny Sullivan. The production, scheduled for Monday July 17th, stars John Ritter, whose portrayal of a gay man in a small Southern town was absolutely delightful in the film Sling Blade. It also stars Bruce Davison, Oscar nominated for his stirring performance as the "den mother" to a house full of friends on Fire Island in the movie Longtime Companion. To see these fine actors perform their craft locally is an opportunity we don't intend to miss.
The same can be said for the company's production of A. R. Gurney's Ancestral Voices (Aug. 2-6), starring Sada Thompson (who played the matriarch in the television series "Family") and Len Cariou, who garnered a Tony Award for Sweeney Todd. Also on the schedule are The National Players' production of Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona (July 26-30) and Marc Wolf's Obie Award winning Another American Asking and Telling (July 19-25), including an opening night benefit for the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center Project. (For ticket information, call 302-226-4103.)
If you haven't been to the lovely grounds of the Rehoboth Art League in Henlopen Acres lately, here's a daytime event you really should experience: the current exhibition of paintings and three-dimensional fantasy houses by artist Cassie Taggart. Her works combine the colorful whimsy of American folk art with penetrating and often disturbing insights into her human figures, calling to mind the photography of the late Diane Arbus. Taggart's oversized dollhouses are surrealistic sculptures filled with relics of reality. They are simply amazing to behold. The exhibition continues through mid-July (call 227-8408).
For an evening of pop music by nationally renowned performers, consider the star power at the Bottle & Cork in Dewey Beach. Already this summer the Cork has featured The Grateful Dead's Bob Weir (with Rat Dog) and the legendary rocker Todd Rundgren. Coming up on July 6th are the Bacon Brothers, featuring "Footloose" actor/musician Kevin. (It'll be a great opportunity to play the cult favorite name-dropping game, "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.") For a complete list of the club's summer's head liners, go to www.bottlecork.com
You'll find plenty of great live blues and jazz acts throughout the season at Sydney's, plus pop and classical concerts under the stars at the University of Delaware's Lewes campus. You can catch one of the independent film screenings sponsored by the Rehoboth Beach Film Society. You can play Bingo-a-Go-Go at the Convention Center (Saturday July 8), then take in the Art League's annual Cottage Tour of beautiful homes from cozy to lavish (July 11-12).
Check out the CAMPdates page in this publication (and the calendars of local newspapers). You'll discover that there's a lot more to do around here than beaching and bar hopping. In fact, there are almost too many exciting events to choose from this season. Take it from one local resident who may have to move away from Rehoboth Beach so that he can return for summer vacations.
Bill Sievert's CAMPtalk is a regular feature of LETTERS.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 10, No. 8, June 30, 2000.