Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tennessee Williams - Part II

Reclining Woman outside Atlantic House in Provincetown

When, a couple years back, there was a feature on Tennessee Williams' Provincetown summer in the Sunday Times, another work-friend, Mary Ann -- not the Marianne of an earlier post who got the Tennessee Williams autograph -- asked me if I had seen the article and if I liked his plays.  I gushed:  "Yes, I saw it, and yes I love him!  Even just the titles of his plays are like poetry.  And I never walk by the A-House in Provincetown without thinking of him cause he hung out there and it was on the porch there that he met Frank Merlo, the love of his life."

"I never went in there ... what's that place like?" Mary Ann asked.  "From things I heard about it I'd have been afraid to step foot in the door."

"Oh, you'd 'a been okay.  It's just a big dance bar.  Loud music.  Crowded.  Everybody sweaty.  And then there's a little cruise bar off to the side."

"But what about upstairs?  I heard that some pretty wild things went on up there."

I hesitated at how to put it.  "Well, it was Provincetown's version of kinky, I suppose, but nothing compared to what I'd seen in bars in Manhattan or Munich.  That upstairs room was called The Macho Bar.  It was kind of silly to me.  And you wouldn't 'a gone up there anyway ... you'd 'a been afraid of the dark at the top of the stairs, cause it was barely lit up there ... you'd 'a just gone to the dance bar on the first floor where the music was blaring.  And I mean blaring.  I've always assumed, by the way, that the A-House is where I got tinnitus."

At the mention of tinnitus Mary Ann's face took on an expression of aghast!

I was wondering: What the hell?

"Oh, stop!  Stop!" she begged, covering her ears with her hands to shut me out.  "I don't want to know about that kind of stuff."

Soon enough her misunderstanding dawned on me.  "It's not an STD!" I said.  "It's when you have ringing in your ears!  The tiny antennae in my ears got damaged listening to Mick Jagger on the A-House's gigantic speakers."

Man succumbs to tinnitus outside Atlantic House in Provincetown