The Other Beth called me last Saturday night and asked if I’d like to volunteer for Chowderfest 2008 the next morning. What is Chowderfest, you ask? Chowderfest is where many of the restaurants on the island dole out their chowder in little plastic cups and 15,000 people vote on their clammy goodness.
Of course, I said god, no…for a number of reasons. Being surrounded by throngs of Joe Public can render me speechless, doing free work is never my idea of fun and well, it’s called Chowderfest. I don’t go to things called Chowderfest, just as a rule.
But there I am, 9 o’clock the next morning.
“Oh what the hell,” I thought. “It’s not going to kill me, right?”
Well, whilst it wouldn’t kill me, little did I know, it would change me…forever.
I will walk you through the rest of the events in pictures:
At first, I’m horribly overwhelmed when the gates are opened and thousands of people come swarming to our little table.
After a while, I start relaxing – mainly because I let Beth do most of the work while I play around with my camera and take shots of the madness.
If you look closely at the photo, you’ll notice a slight look of annoyance in her eyes.
Maybe Chowderfest isn’t going to be so bad after all. Oh and the German cook is kinda sweet. His name is Marco. He likes me because my last name is Mann. Germans always feel better around fellow Germans.
Everything seemed fine for a while. Lots of people, dead clams in broth, happy together. I run around the whole place and try 20 different chowders and proudly know who the winners will be in both the white and red category (red, of course, being the only real chowder in my opinion.) And guess what? I picked BOTH winners!
I come back to our camp, where Beth is diligently doing both of our jobs. One of the people running our camp comes up to me, as I sit by myself on a cooler with a beer in one hand and my camera in the other. He says, in a bold, Italian manner:
“Hey, you. Why don’t you do something – even if it’s wrong!?”
Man, I thought, those are some real words of wisdom. Really, think about it: how many times in life are we seized with indecision when we can choose ANYTHING and it will at the very least change the course of things – thereby eliminating the idea of “right” or “wrong” altogether.
I really appreciated him for saying that. So I start taking pictures of him instead of The Other Beth (since she was looking pretty overworked and angry at this point.) I forget his name but I liked his brassy attitude:
“Do something…even if it’s wrong!”
After several shots of bold Italian dude, I begin taking photos of the crowd. I pan across the tent and that’s when I see him standing there, looking in our direction, poised to change my life forever. Oh god. Please don’t come over, I mentally plead. Please.
He starts walking toward me, on a mission…a mission to disturb the hell out of me and possibly change my sexuality from this point onward. He somehow knew he encompassed everything I consider wrong with the average “Joe Six-pack” (as that nut job from Alaska refers to them), one of the reasons I don’t attend things called “Chowderfest” in the first place.
Do you remember when Brad Pitt went “scruffy?” That really pissed me off, for instance. We have enough men in this country looking scruffy au natural. We don’t need one of the hottest men in America purposefully going for a look that I see all too often. Just do your job, shut up and be hot.
But I digress. This isn’t about Brad Pitt…at all. This is about a man who would end up hanging in front of our camp for at least 20 minutes, basking in the discomfort that I and The Other Beth were soon to experience.
This man, walked out of his house this morning, purposefully and willfully looking like this:
Please note the teenager in the background with the spoon in her mouth, equally amazed and aghast. I think the guy in the sunglasses is stunned too but its hard to tell.
At first, I look away, as if witnessing a crime scene or road kill. But then, I keep looking back, staring, stunned. The Other Beth, reading my mind, mutters:
“Why won’t he leave? Why won’t he just leave?”
I move past my shock and start snapping away. I need evidence. I need something to look at in the future, on a night when I want sex so badly, I could crawl out of my fevered skin. I need the photographic equivalent of a cold shower.
I betcha you could chop up that belly of his and make enough chowder to feed all the people at the Chowderfest and none of them would be the wiser. A 2008 clammy version of Soylent Green.
Luckily enough, I even got a shot of his “fancy footwear”:
People wearing this shoe/sock combo should be lined up against a wall with a last cigarette.
When he finally leaves, The Other Beth and I stand there, in shock. “I’m traumatized,” I confess to her. “Let’s not talk about it.” “Fine, let’s forget all about it.”
I go back to work…well, The Other Beth goes to work and I begin watching her as she marches around, serving her cute little cups of Manhattan clam chowder to the public, her long, silky brown hair flowing in the wind, her smile dancing across her face. I never thought of Beth this way, never before this day – I swear.
My final picture that day:
Note eyes as blue as the heavenly skies.