As soon as Codger’s stationary bicycle arrives and is assembled by Crone and Cur II, the light at the end of the tunnel will click on.
Some people think a new president or a new vaccine will illuminate the way back to normalcy or better, but Codger thinks the path of progress will be led by his furious pedaling to nowhere on his immobile bike, then dismounting and doing something positive.
It’s all about individual agency, he thinks, one person doing something positive and picking up sidekicks along the way until change begins to happen. Or you can just wait for the next celebrity authoritarian to come along and tell you what to do.
This is not the first time that Codger thought something would change everything. He remembers his anticipation at the arrival of his Tom Mix decoder ring, his college acceptance, a promotion, weddings, a birth, a diagnosis, even a move to Shelter Island.
And each did change everything in a way. But the ultimate lesson was always this: wherever Codger ended up, there he was.
But he still thinks the stationary bike is going to be a turning point. It will get him moving. After months of being numbed by newscasts, he will be able to move rapidly while being numbed by newscasts. That could be the first step to actually doing something.
Crone is way ahead. She approached the COVID downtime with vigor — tai chi, aerobics, stealing Codger’s pathetic little weights and turning them into pom poms that she waved exuberantly while he sulked at his melting muscles and his inability to swing his recently doctored bones over a regular bike.
Crone also cooked up her usual 16-20 person Thanksgiving festival, but this time they showed up on a screen. Zoom was more fun than Codger and Crone expected, raucous and intimate.
Almost everyone showed up, including the cool teen-aged grandson, who, to the general senior horror, is starting to get free products from skateboard companies instead of from book companies, the family business.
Even Cur II stepped up his game, racing after the balls Codger threw on the beach then refusing to bring them back. He demanded that Codger come for them, and sometimes even snatched them away at the last second, making Codger walk even farther.
Cur II turned Fetch into Keep Away. It was hilarious and maddening, the best exercise Codger got.
Codger has been trying to explain to Cur II that all of us have to get tough, Islander-up, ride it to the buzzer, masks and all. Codger has been impressed with the Town Board’s handling of the current crises in a steady way, while moving ahead on the Comprehensive Plan, looking at water problems and finessing its way out of dealing directly with two issues that go to the soul of what many people here think the Island is all about — individual independence.
Town employees Ron Jernick, Zach Starzee and Wesley Congdon had every right to plant their political flags on their private trucks, says Codger, but maybe not to park in such a way as to make the Recycling Center look like a Trump Dump.
Councilman Jim Colligan had a right to call them on it, but maybe not in the confrontational way he did.
You will need a panel of philosophers to sort that one out as well as judging Susan Williams’ right to turn her front yard into an epic eyesore. In tidier days, Codger lived across the street from Susan and liked her as a person and neighbor.
But he also understands how his friends Stephen Gessner and Kathleen Minder felt under siege by that mess, which seems to have made it harder so far for them to sell their house.
Dealing with Susan through a yard sale law — not to say there might not be some use for one — would be a questionable way around a complicated problem. Sometimes doing nothing is doing something.
But sometimes the town can’t do nothing. At the moment, a recent arrival from the South Fork, Mike Gaynor, is suing the town for allowing Beyonce to film a music video at Sylvester Manor without a permit, according to his lively, bloggish website, theshelterislandway.com.
The nuances and ironies of the suit are over Codger’s head but they seem to involve Russian hacking, the United Negro College Fund, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Disney money, planted malware and bow hunting. Codger was wondering if his and Crone’s taxes (soon due) will be used to defend the suit. With everything else going on is this really the best use of their funds? Or Gaynor’s?
Codger thinks: Hey, neighbor, with your time, money and passion to contribute, how about buying every local household a stationary bike? It’s a fast start.