The Best Things In Life Are Still Free

Last week, The Shelter Island Reporter ran a questionnaire: “What does Shelter Island lack that would make it a perfect place to live?”  Great question, and the answers reveal more about the “answeree” than the actual subject.

“I’m thinking a 7-Eleven,” a young man was quoted as saying. I can certainly sympathize. I was once a teenager stranded on the rock, as were my two children many years later. I can see the logic in wanting a 7-Eleven. Greenport has one, so does Sag Harbor, and yet we are left bereft of Slurpees and cigarette butt strewn parking lots. As anyone who’s ever lived off Island can tell you, the parking lot of a 7-Eleven is a Mecca for tweens to gather. The essentials of their lives are compiled there; junk food, cell signal and peers with whom to ponder the night’s coming mischief. Shelter Island is the only place I know of where the kids hang out at school on the weekends. To the rest of America that constitutes an alternate dimension.

We have something better than 7-Eleven, we have Fedi’s. Fedi’s is quite possibly the best deli from here to Manhattan but sans that special blend of dodgy-dingy florescent lighting that makes a 7-Eleven so alluring. I challenge the youth to expect more from their weekend excursions. Think not what the rock can do for you, but what you can do for the rock. In other words, Google a “living social” or “groupon,” tweet your fellow teens and tweens and take a charter bus to a halfway decent destination. Your parents can satellite stalk you from a lounge chair at Sunset Beach and you can make your parental chaperone (or human sacrifice) walk 10 steps behind you, and not talk to anyone, lest they embarrass you.

Another suggestion was for more jobs. Shelter Island could use a small movie theater. Three screens is all it would take to appease three generations of bored “rockers.” While providing entertainment to the masses, it would provide job opportunities and a suitable parking lot paradise. Since Shelter Island doesn’t allow any chains, the theater would be our own. Impeccably decorated by local island women, we could venture beyond stale popcorn and have special concessions from Fedi’s and Primo Pizza. Evening shows could be dinner theatre quality with clams on the half and white wine for the adult sections. An acrylic walled smoking enclosure for the smokers. The chairs would be plush recliners, the carpet Persian, and the parking valet. But the best of all would be a secret room the men could access from the men’s lounge. Boys always love a secret hideout from the girls, no matter what their age. This way they can evade chick flix by excusing themselves to the men’s lounge and dipping into their secret hideout for the duration. Cognac, cigars and CNN Sports run while their wives and girlfriends watch the latest romantic comedy.  I’m telling you, a theater like this would so enrich the Island that we’d need to move the whole Island farther out to sea to discourage off-Islanders from coming just to be able to really enjoy movie watching again.

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