Living in seaside towns you see your fare share of inns and B&Bs and so forth. And there is something about the signage that can tell you something right off the bat, I find, about the personalities of the owners. If full and they hang a little NO to the left of VACANCY I take it as a polite, time-saving gesture for all involved. It’s polite enough without being cute. I hate cute. The only exception perhaps is when a shop says OPEN and then scrambles the words to read NOPE when they’re not. I can sort of deal with that. But when an inn or B&B is full and they hang the world NO to the right of the VACANCY sign, I feel we’re in for a bit of a problem. I mean there won’t be a problem because obviously I’m not entering to inquire about a room—I wouldn’t anyway; but I might subliminally steer visiting friends or strangers, even, away from some a place. Somehow that particular combination of the two words is the equivalent of the kind of 1980s joke, like, “I’m so interested in this—NOT.” It’s something Roseanne used to say as the character Roseanne on Roseanne. It’s a little dangle-y, as if there is a silent question mark after the work VACANCY? and then boom: NO, loser. It’s just a bit passive aggressive.
And then there is the more cloying passive aggresive version of the no vacancy sign which is SORRY. Really? Sorry? Are you. Why. Who asked you to be. Who says I’m disappointed? How did we jump to disappointment. It’s assuming a lot: To think you have the power to disappoint me. It’s so condescending. It might be worse than VACANCY NO now that I think about it. Like it’s so fucking great to stay at your crappy B&B. SORRY. That’s like breaking up with someone because you know they are just about to break up with you. Like I have to be shut out from staying at your crappy place and also be noble enough to let you down easy that I didn’t want to fucking stay there in the first place. God. It’s such a victimy projection. Like don’t fucking worry about it. I’m fine. I don’t need your fucking pity that I can’t stay in your lousy room with the squeaky double bed and eat your mini muffins with bad coffee in the morning. Trust me we are good.
Whatever happened to FULL. I love FULL. It’s so simple and direct. It’s the opposite of VACANCY, that would be EMPTY which wouldn’t be accurate because a place isn’t empty then full it’s filling up and then full. FILLING UP would be a cute way of saying VACANCY but, yeah, we don’t like cute so never mind. And so what—damn the parallel structure—FULL works just fine. It’s succinct and yet it feels a little friendly. It’s not assuming anything about me or asking me to feel away. It’s not like the other codependent nightmare signs. It’s just like FULL. That’s it. We’re cool. No need to discuss. I have boundaries. I wish you well. I’m not going to waste your time. Just keep looking and I wish you well. God Speed.
While on the subject of signs: I have this idea to market a two sided Provincetown Paddle whereupon, on one side it says COME HERE and on the other GO AWAY. Because after living and working in this town for quite some time what I’ve noticed is that it’s a petrie dish for polarization. And ultimately people fall into two categories—those you want or actually need to see for one reason or another on any given day OR those you are definitely trying to avoid seeing or being seen by. So I thought I would market an auction paddle. I could call it the “Provincetown People Polarization Paddle”™ I think it would sell like hotcakes.
*Typos happen—I don’t have time or an intern to edit.*
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