The clams I ate at Woodman’s were not very happy. They were deep-fried. If you are from the North Shore of Massachusetts you are probably rolling your eyes because Woodman’s is a tourist trap. Everyone has their favorite clam shack or place to go for lobster in the rough. There are about a dozen places to choose from between Rockport and Ipswich. Woodman’s is a treat for me, and everything I ate there was delicious. Once you get over the prices there is a lot to enjoy ($30 for a humongous plate of fried clams, homemade french fries, and onion rings).
Woodman’s is chaotic and confusing if you don’t know how it works. It is huge. It is self-service. There are three stations, each with their own line (one just for whole lobsters, one for drinks (in my case beer), and one for fried clams, fried scallops, fried haddock, french fries, onion rings, lobster rolls, clam fritters, corn, and cole slaw). If you come with less than four people (one for each line and one to grab a table) you have to do some juggling before you can eat.
On this trip I felt more like a buoy, although I ate like a gull. An adult gull will consume over 20% of its body weight everyday in food. I think I came close to that at Woodman’s. Unlike the gulls, I didn’t have to go dumpster diving or eat off of someone else’s plate.
In the water I felt like a buoy. Or at least I felt buoyant. Bouncy and happy. I brought all of my swimming costume paraphernalia with me. The first day at the beach I wore board shorts that hit just above the knees (commando) and a loose-fitting short sleeve rash guard (bottom loop of shirt tied into the fly lacing of the shorts). I was happy reading on my beach chair, happy walking the length of the beach at low tide, and happy bobbing around and jumping waves.
I did not feel self-conscious. I did not mind the extra fabric. I did not mind wearing a shirt. I wasn’t worried about losing my shirt. I didn’t feel that I was hiding anything. I am never going back to wearing a women’s Speedo Racerback. I did notice a handful of other people like me wearing various configurations of trunks and tops. There were also a lot of good-looking guys wearing board shorts and rash guards. They didn’t look self-conscious either.
I put on sandals and went directly from the beach to the car to the grocery store without anyone raising an eyebrow at what I was wearing, although I got “Sir’d” more than usual. I am a convert. I enjoyed being back at the beach.
The second day I wore shorter trunks and another rash guard, and had a similar experience. I never wore the “bike short” swim bottoms or the swimming tank tops (which I perceive as slightly less masculine). I shouldn’t be surprised that I was most comfortable in the most masculine beach attire that I could find. What did surprise me is that Donna liked it the best too. Win-win.
Notes: Woodman’s restrooms are referenced in this (slightly phobic and anti-unisex restroom) article in the Boston Globe on oddball bathroom signs. Go Where? Sex, Gender, and Toilets has an even wider array of unusual signs to categorize restrooms, including some that are genuinely baffling.
This post is a follow-up to my earlier post on genderqueer swim suits, butch bathing suits, and what non-binary people can wear to the beach. You can find it here if you missed it the first time around, including pictures of my swim trunks and rash guard.