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Codger’s column: Looking forward

Cricket is coming for the Memorial Day Weekend to see Codger and Crone for the first time in person in more than a year and to celebrate his 9th birthday. Codger would jitterbug with joy if his lower back were not complaining so much these days.

It’s always something.

Complaining might not appear appropriate right now with a sane grownup as president and progress seemingly underway to right the economy and defeat COVID. But just as it’s no time to shun vaccines and discard masks, it’s no time to stop complaining. There’s work to be done. Nothing’s perfect.

In any case, Codger often complains as Memorial Day — the start of the summer season — looms, even though it’s an important holiday in his household. He met Crone at a Memorial Day party on the Island 23 years ago. She often wears the same polo shirt she had on that day. Looks even better.

On the other hand, dogs are banned from town beaches on Memorial Day. Codger can understand banning unleashed canines. Dogs know they could run over and eat visitors’ Marie Eiffel picnics or even nibble on their whiny children, not to mention lick people being massaged — actually massaged! — in front of Sunset Beach. But to keep Cur II, who actually lives on the Island, from walking leashed seems unfair. Whatever Cur II might deposit on the sand gets picked up immediately. This is not true of all visitors.

Codger thinks it’s liberating to be complaining about dogs on the beach after the year we’ve all been through. It could have been worse. And it may be yet: The pandemic sweeping India is only a plane-and-jitney away and the Trump toady who is Codger’s Congressional representative, Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), is running for governor. This is only possible because the incumbent governor is a lying bully. Is he better or worse than a politician with a bad environmental record who supports the right to carry a concealed weapon on Shelter Island if you’re licensed in, say, Georgia? Zeldin voted against certifying President Biden’s election even after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

There’s a lot going on right here on Shelter Island, which Codger will probably not explain in depth to Cricket, but might to his parents, Cat and Chuck. First of all, it looks as though the powers-that-be, the Town Board and the police chief, are leaning against pot in paradise when marijuana becomes legal in the state. They want to “opt out” of retail sales, at least until they check out what happens in other East End towns.

Codger decided this was a prudent idea when a local businessman told him of his plan to buy the old Capitol One bank building on West Neck Road and turn it into a pot palace (POT-tery Barn?). He was particularly enamored of the drive-through window feature. (Weed’n’Fries?) The deal fell through for financial reasons.

In its place there may be a French restaurant, arguably something the Island has been missing (although not as much as good Chinese). Codger would opt out of a fancy eatery in the bank building if it included use of the high-ceilinged underground vault for secret meals of endangered species (à la one of Codger’s favorite movies, “The Freshman,” with Marlon Brando). Imagine Rosemary-brined osprey or Plover au Poivre.

That’s repellent. Obviously Codger needs to be re-civilized if he is to make it socially in the post-COVID future. Picture him moving through crowds at parties, speaking suavely in such smart snippets. Opt out of him! It’s what happens when you spend a year on Zoom and FaceTime, mostly with Cricket and other tolerant, forgiving family members.

Conversation has changed. Codger and Crone, who have been talking with each other even more than usual, have particularly enjoyed having dinner with just one other couple at a time (until recently at the ends of a 9-foot table) and getting to know them far better than they ever did before. That intimacy gets lost in crowds, even in the standard six-to-eight person dinner party.

In any case, there’s still plenty to talk about now, especially since the Comprehensive Plan meetings have warmed everybody up. After years of “Que sera, sera,” in Town Hall, people are talking about a professional town manager, about just saying no to monster houses intruding into wetlands, and adopting a philosophy that will at least delay the eventual Disneyfication of downtown (check out the big money grab of Sag Harbor).

Much of this won’t interest Cricket, although his parents might listen out of politeness. Cricket will want to play with the newly beachless Cur II, who also just turned 9-years-old, and unless leashed will try to steal Cricket’s food.

It’s a dog eat cake world.