Buoys and Gulls

woodman'sI am happy as a clam. The long form of the expression is “happy as a clam at high tide”. Clams are dug up in shallow water. They are safe in their beds in deep water.

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.

GullsBuoysWhen Woodman’s is busy there is also a line for the restrooms. The restrooms are signed for Buoys and Gulls. It is hokey.

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.

9 thoughts on “Buoys and Gulls

  1. The Final Rinse

    I am glad that your beach experience went well.
    This March, we visited my folks in southern Florida. The weather was exceptionally nice, and we ended up visiting the beach on three days. In my mind, I kept remembering the words of a friend on the topic of the complications of dressing for the beach. She said “I love the beach so much that I would go even if I had to wear basketball trunks and three t-shirts, or even if I had to wear a snowsuit.”
    So I went, and I didn’t wear three t-shirts or a snowsuit.
    And I loved it!
    I am glad that you did too.
    (I had a choice of “Mermaids” and “Pirates.” Of course I chose the Mermaids, to the chagrin of my elderly parents … )


    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      That doesn’t completely explain your disappearance again, but I’m glad you are back, survived the trip to your parents, and enjoyed the beach. Going to the Mermaid’s would be even harder for me than the Gull’s (and has the added complication of how to get your tail into a stall).
      I think next year’s question will be how long do I go to the beach for and do I dare to wear more interesting shorts or shirts.


      1. The Final Rinse

        Top few improbable reasons for no posts:
        1. My life was boring with nothing to write about.
        2. I was tired of writing about trans* stuff all the time.
        3. I was too busy cleaning up after my cats and dog.
        4. I temporarily did not exist.
        5. I was on the ship to Pluto.
        6. The dog ate my notes.
        7. I went back to dial-up internet.
        8. I no longer have any significant gender related events in my life.

        I think that Iwill go with number eight.


  2. jerbearinsantafe

    Ah, the joys of a New England beach! I spent many happy days there in earlier years. The ocean is something I really miss living here in New Mexico. Glad you had a good time!


    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      The beaches are beautiful, and unlike New York, on Cape Ann there is no “scene” – nothing to get dressed up for, no reservations, no snooty maitre d’ to deal with. I wish it was closer to New York, but that would probably ruin it and turn it into The Hamptons. I’ve been to New Mexico twice, but both times in the Fall – and I was surprised that there was fall foliage because I’ve always associated it with New England.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lesboi

    Glad to hear you’ve had a great time on your vacation. Fried clams are one of my favorites and that restaurant sounds like a good one. This post hit at a great time for me as we’re getting ready to head to Florida in a few days for a week at the beach and I’ve been thinking a lot about what to wear. It was an impromptu trip so I didn’t have much time for planning so I ordered an underworks swim top but I fear it won’t get here in time. Keeping my fingers crossed. Otherwise I’ll be wearing a girls top with my swim shorts. 😦


    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      It is a good thing I can’t get fried clams like that close to home. Hope you both have a good time,
      and that you get your swimming binder in time. Otherwise you will have to do some mental jiu-jitsu to avoid them getting in the way of having a good time. Or just stay in the deep water.



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