In print now in Gargoyle Magazine #66.
In the early 1980’s it was generally considered safe to hitchhike on Nantucket Island. At least, those of us who had only just graduated college and come for the summer— career-less and broke—found it an economical and efficient mode of transportation. And we never hitchhiked alone.
After all, this tiny (45 square mile), quaint island thirty miles off Cape Cod was a little paradise, ripe with opportunities to waitress in wildly expensive restaurants and babysit for or clean the vacation homes of reclusive celebrities. Our parents, of course, would have been appalled.
We were a pack of four Southern Gals, newly graduated from a small all women’s college in Virginia. (Then, we called it “all-girls”, not “all women’s”.) We had arrived on the ferry from Hyannis after a long drive packed into my Ford Mustang and we would spend our first night on Island at the poetically named Flossie’s Flophouse.
The Next morning, we would take possession of a rented ranch house that had been sold and emptied out. Renovations were to start in September after we left and the realtor tossed in two mattresses and two box springs and a sleep sofa with no cushions that never stayed folded closed unless you sat on it. The house also included a mystery male roommate, who used everyone else’s shampoo. By the end of the summer, an additional couple had started living in the attic.
That whole summer, we slept on either a mattress or a box spring in alternate weeks. Aside from the aforementioned sofa, the balance of out furniture consisted of creative assemblies of stolen plastic milk crates. But we thought it was all pretty great.
The night I write about in “Confab” is fictional—well, the climactic part is. The amount of truth peppered through the tale might vary, depending on whom you ask about it. It’s more of a composite of the events of that summer of 1981 than it is a snapshot of one night. What started out as a re-telling of drunken high jinx morphed, as I wrote it, into an exploration of regret and shame and how quickly life can change when you aren’t paying attention.