Topical Guide 53
Sexual Fantasies, Male, Heterosexual, Adolescent and Beyond; Miss Clam Fest
The Clam Fest, of course, includes a Queen, an adolescent who is made to wear an abbreviated costume and ride, at the head of a procession of clamboats, on the boat belonging to the oldest of the clamdiggers, in the bow, as far forward as possible, with her legs dangling overboard. Since the oldest clamboats were once sailing vessels, she is likely to be straddling a bowsprit, in a display that is really too much for words.
Boating on the Bolotomy
There are or were several Miss Clam Fests during the years covered by the Personal History, but “Miss Clam Fest” might be considered equivalent to “every schoolboy’s dream.” The term adolescent may be misleading here. Of the several Miss Clam Fests, they were all, broadly speaking, adolescents, but none was a very young girl. They were girls in the last year or two of high school or in the first year or two after high school. Miss Clam Fest occurs often enough throughout the Personal History to warrant treatment as a topic in her own right. So: “Miss Clam Fest” shall be a topic in her own right. In fact, since I was myself not immune to the attractions of the several Miss Clam Fests I saw (make that “ogled”) during my years in Babbington, I’ll make “Miss Clam Fest” a topic in The Topical Autobiography of Mark Dorset as well.
Music: Ottorino Respighi’s “Ancient Airs and Dances for the Lute”
RASKOL AND I waited beyond the Municipal Dock, on the bay side, away from the crowds on the river side, and there we went unnoticed. After an hour or so, we heard a murmur rise from the crowd, and soon we could hear, over the murmurs of the crowd, the Babbington High School Band, playing the Bergomask from Ottorino Respighi’s “Ancient Airs and Dances for the Lute,” scored for marching band by Babbington High’s own Timothy J. Courtney, a prodigy of some note.
Little Follies, “Life on the Bolotomy”
The Bergomask or Bergamasca is the fourth and final movement of Suite Number 2 of Ancient Airs and Dances (Antiche arie e danze). I would offer you a recording of the Babbington High School Band’s performance if I could, but extensive research has failed to uncover any such recording. Instead, I offer this performance by the Santa Monica High School Symphony Orchestra with Guests from Malibu High School recorded February 18, 2015:
I do not recall that the Babbington High School Band ever reached the level of performance exhibited by the Santa Monica High School Symphony Orchestra, but I may be mistaken.
Falling: Not Quite Falling
The band was charging into the grand, swelling, soaring conclusion to the Bergomask. Raskol and I had nearly reached Leech’s Son’s Boatyard, and the end of the beginning of the journey. I was ecstatic. I had been elevated by the music and the crowd. I stood in the boat and waved my paddle to them all. In my enthusiasm, I waved a little too wildly, and for a moment I could imagine myself falling into the water as I had in “Do Clams Bite?” . . .
But I recovered, and by shifting my weight and using my paddle as a counterweight I kept myself upright, and I let myself down carefully into the boat again. My ears were burning. I bent to the work of paddling the boat, and looked straight ahead, upriver, until we were past the boatyard and out of sight of everyone.
I cleared my throat. “Do you think anybody noticed?” I asked Raskol.
He burst out laughing. “Probably,” he said.
Little Follies, “Life on the Bolotomy”
That the boat did not upset I simply state as a fact. Why it did not upset I am unable to offer any reason. I have often thought about the matter since, but I have never succeeded in arriving at any satisfactory explanation of the phenomenon.
Possibly the result may have been brought about by the natural obstinacy of all things in this world. The boat may possibly have come to the conclusion, judging from a cursory view of our behaviour, that we had come out for a morning's suicide, and had thereupon determined to disappoint us. That is the only suggestion I can offer.
Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)
[more to come on Tuesday, July 27, 2021]
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