The hangover breakfast at Bessie’s is a staple of any t-dance weekend excursion to Ogunquit. Kelly and I sit companionably over our omelettes and coffee, bleary-eyed from a night of tequila, club mixes, and late night tapas overlooking Main Street. As the caffeine works its way through my system I take in our dining companions. Unlike Provincetown, that other great New England gay hot spot, Ogunquit tends to attract visitors ‘passing through” — New Yorkers or Bostonians making the trek north to Freeport to visit the L.L. Bean mothership, and French Canadians down from Quebec to walk by the ocean mingle over morning rituals with the dykes and the piano bar boys who closed down the Front Porch in the wee hours.
It is then I start to notice them. The impossibly thin women that seem to populate so many of the nearby tables. They bundle themselves up against the cool October breeze as if knowing a stiff wind could lift their bird like frames and swirl them up with the last remnants of autumn leaves that blow down Shore Road. They smooth the waists of fleece jackets (Lands End no doubt or L.L. Bean naturally) as if to draw attention to how snugly said fleeces fit against bony hips that top legs roughly the circumference of my thumb. Smart down vests (how do they all know the down vest is ‘the thing” how do thin women know this stuff?) add an extra layer of protection from the cold for their delicate waif-like frames.
Smooth shiny hair in identical hairstyles (again, how do they KNOW this stuff) falls around faces, eyes shielded by sunglasses that probably cost as much as a night at the Bed and Breakfast where we stayed. They fascinate me. I am mesmerized by one woman who rises from the table and spends what seems to be an eternity wrapping her cashmere scarf around her ballerina-like neck. The exact right number of silver bangles jangle on her arm as she retrieves her bag (Coach no doubt) from the table and moves toward the door as if knowing the way will be clear for her. Waiters, busboys, patrons will all surely step aside as this icon of thin femininity glides out of the restaurant and into the already cold sunlight of the October morning. The day will greet her warmly as she shops her way through Kittery and drinks her tall skinny latte in the afternoon on Marginal Way.
I look across the table at Kelly and then down at myself. No doubt these women did not rejoice over omlettes and grilled english muffins as we had No doubt they drank herbal tea from mugs held tightly to warm bony fingers and nibbled on dry toast. No hangover dehydration for them, surely they imbibe the requisite number of glasses of what? Evian? each day. I consider my own body in all its amazonian, fleshy glory. I look down at my own fleece jacket — LL Bean yes, but an outlet find in of all things the MEN’S department, which I have to stalk if I have any hopes of finding a jacket with sleeves long enough. Not fitted (which is a blessing) and in a glum maroon it’s a far cry from the fleeces of the impossibly thin women at breakfast. I feel lumbering, oafish, fat and clumsy in my skin, I consider my gray hair, my lack of makeup and the complete absence of bangles from my arm, no Coach bag for me, just a small wallet in my jeans does the trick. I am conscious suddenly of how CLOSE the table are together, and how I feel a sudden move would knock my neighbors coffee from his hand as if the proverbial bull in the china shop had lumbered in. I smile at Kelly across the table and she smiles back and for that moment everything is ok. I am beautiful and I am loved by her and she is beautiful and she is loved by me and I am happier than I ever thought possible.
But in that brief moment prior I wondered…as I always do…what it must be like to feel that bright sunshine on your face…and to move through the world as an impossibly thin woman.