On Shelter Island, a Game by Any Other Name…

La Maison Blanche (The White House) on Shelter Island is hosting its second annual Petanque Tournament today. All proceeds will be donated to the Lions Club, which benefits everybody.

I had to look up Petanque since I have never heard of it. It seems to be akin to the popular Italian game bocce ball, but with a French accent. First we have the British people here hosting a cricket match on August 18 (see www.sicricket.com) and now this foreign import, Petanque. What is going on here? And if we have these two foreign games, since we have plenty of Italian Americans here—why don’t we have bocce ball? We have a lot of Irish Americans too, but it’s no longer politically correct to view drinking and story telling as legitimate sports.

One nice thing about Petanque is that, like bocce ball, it seems to require more skill than strength, so women can easily participate also. But there is a very big hidden danger to this game. La Maison Blanche (which was voted Dan’s Papers Best of the Best East End Hotel and Best of the Best French Cuisine) is serving a variety of French delicacies like charcuterie and cheese plates, croque monsieur sandwiches and moules marinieres. I don’t know what any of those things are, but I gained five pounds just trying to spell them. La Maison is calling it their Bastille Day menu. Bastille Day is the French independence day on July 14. I think they are calling it that as a reminder to the participants to not go anywhere near a scale for three days after the feast or you’ll want to chop off your own head! Of course, you could argue the opposite, that playing petanque allows you to burn off the calories, but who’s going to exercise after eating all those delicious things?

I don’t know what kind of equipment is needed to play petanque since you’re just tossing hollow metal balls, what danger could there be in that? I don’t think a helmet or shin guards would be needed, but is it a French game…I suggest a beret, a mustache and a cigarette. If you can cop an attitude, that would be helpful too. Since this is a French game, no doubt it has bonus points for looking cool while you’re petanqing.

I have to say that I’m glad this game isn’t known to the Irish. You can’t trust us with anything we can throw. If we had access to metal balls, a head injury would be a right of passage. There is a game in Ireland called Gaelic Football. It’s a unique Irish version of soccer. I don’t know what makes it unique, probably no penalty for fighting.

One suggestion I would make to La Maison is to award a trophy. Maybe a gold painted petanque ball with a croissant sitting on top. Who wouldn’t want to put that on their mantle? And they could “islandize” it further by having a crab holding the petanque ball. Or maybe a little Statue of Liberty with her arm around the Eiffel Tower, and a holding a petanque ball in her other hand. Oh, the possibilities are endless…

Call 749-1633 or email reservations@maisonblanchehotel for more information.

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