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September 18, 2008


Fear of Change


Jim McPartland




I’ve been spending time searching for my soul recently. It’s not really lost and I’m pretty sure I can hear it yelling from the woods that are right behind me. But I’m not totally sure what it’s saying and I’m not convinced it even speaks English.


Part of this search has involved an extended stay in Cape Cod, Ma. Wellfleet and the surrounding area specifically. It’s a beautiful place filled with artists that, similar to me, are more interested helping each other rather than trying to figure out ways to fuck their neighbors and co-workers. Many are gay, but I don’t care. I was kinda eyeballed at the gym this morning, and it did make me uncomfortable. I’ve been accused of being homophobic, but I don’t think so. Just because I can’t sit through Brokeback Mountain when Jake and Heath start digging each other does not make me dislike gays. I’m actually quite tolerant. I just don’t get ‘guy on guy. Girl on girl? TOTALLY different story. One of the many reasons I loved Lindsay Aimes ‘It’s Over’ was because of the line when she says she’d get her sister ‘involved’ if her ex-lover returned.


I drove up to Provincetown Monday. It is the literal tip of the world on the Cape. The beach is breath taking and nary a soul was there. I told my cousin the town was super quiet. Its reputation for a gay community % right after San Francisco seemed unfounded during my brief visit. She told me the wild gay guys only come out at night- it rivals Mardi Gras- and the lesbians walking the dogs that I did see stay to themselves.


I’ve taken up one of 8 chairs that sit outside the Wellfleet Spirit Shoppe on Main St. The group that hangs there is the equivalent of a combination of King of the Hill (Hank and Dale) and Petticoat Junction (Uncle Joe and an older version of Meredith Baxter pre-Berney).


People hang outside, eat, read the papers, tell jokes. Really dirty ones. Filthy limericks too. Kinda loud. So loud, that I’m shocked the elderly people who stroll by (and the Cape is loaded with retirees) don’t call the police. I guess they aren’t listening but even me, with a fairly high tolerance for sick humor, has to turn my head and snicker on the other side of my mouth when I hear some of this stuff. Makes ‘Step Brothers’ look tame.


My cousin Sarah helps run the packie. She’s a doll and is really nice to all the customers (and she could be a bitch because the place is super busy- open 14 hours a day/7 days a week. One does not go thirsty in Wellfleet).


I’m sitting there when a mid 50’s woman comes in for a pack of cigarettes.


‘$7.09, please’, asks Sarah (fucking expensive here)


‘Can you sell them to me for $7?’


Sarah looks at her bemused ‘Do we look lie we’re in a market in Beirut? We don’t barter’


‘I’ll give you $8 then’.


‘Fine and I’ll give you .91 in change’.


‘I can’t take the change.’


‘What do mean you can’t take it?’


‘I have numistimaticphobia.’




I’m listening, but I have no clue what this lady just said she has. It sounds bad, like arthritis.


‘It’s the fear of change. I cannot deal with anything that’s not in bill form. Pennies make me sweat. Nickels cause hives. Dimes, acne. Quarters send me into cardiac arrest’.


I could tell Sarah was now contemplating not selling her the cigs. She didn’t seem drunk, but she sure hadn’t taken her meds that morning.


Sarah suggested ‘Here, we’ll take out the .09 cents from the penny tray and be done with it.’


‘Fine, if you can do that for me. I can’t touch them. I also don’t want to feel like I owe you money. How about I just give you $8 for the pack?’


Sarah, now getting playful says ‘Ma’am, I cannot take your money. If you need .09, I’ll take it from the tray for you.’


“Fine, then I’ll leave the dollar in the tray.’


Sarah took the pennies. Phobia woman threw the dollar in the general direction of the tray without looking at it as it seems she may start to have a panic attack.




I know fear and change is scary.


People avoid change like there’s no tomorrow. This woman took it to a literal level. The next time you fear change, take a deep breath, go with your instincts and rock and roll.


And keep 9 cents in your pocket just in case.