A Shelter Island Shellibration

The weather is just warming up now, and this is the best time of year for getting new shells. All winter they’ve been washing ashore, waiting for beachcombers. Some people take the short cut and buy bags of exotic shells from the stores, but off-island shells don’t count. You have to get in there and get the real thing.

If you live here, you have to have shells in your bathroom. They can be in a net on the wall, or along the edge of the tub, or acting as a soap dish, or framing a mirror, but you just have to have something shelly in your bathroom—it’s in the town by-laws.

You get bonus points for carrying the theme into the bedroom. Maybe wallpaper with shells, bed sheets with shell patterns, a shell-shaped rug. However, if your husband needs a snorkel and goggles to find you in bed, this is a sign that you’ve carried the theme too far.

Living rooms are exempt from shell decor.  You are free to express any non-nautical urges you may have, but your behavior will be noted….  Years ago I was in a house where with ranch theme decor everywhere. The lady was from Wyoming and missed her Great Plains vistas. It had to be hard to be a cowgirl on the Island.

Cars: It’s mandatory if you live here to have a variety of seashells on your dashboard and at least a pound of sand in your car carpets.  I always loved having a little crab on the dashboard. I called him Navi-crab. He pointed me home.

I took the cowgirl beachcombing and she really got into it, especially when she saw everything else in the sand—beach glass, underwear, a single sneaker, paperbacks, half- full tubes of sunscreen. An amazing variety of things wash ashore, and each one has a story behind it. Once I found a toaster. I just couldn’t figure that one out.

“Let’s see, towels, sunscreen, Cokes, sandwiches—hey honey, should we take the toaster?”

“Nah, lets take the iron, we took the toaster last time.”

“Yeah, but that trip got cut-off by the rain, remember? The toaster didn’t get to have any fun on the beach at all.”

“Fine, bring the toaster. Make sure the cord is on good so it doesn’t get loose when you take it for walks on the beach. And remember to bring plastic bags in case it has to crumb.”

“Hey baby, remember when we took the microwave to the beach? Everybody was looking at us. Can’t blame them, she was a beauty.”

“Oh yeah, and her cute little turntable…I have a picture of her on the beach as my screensaver at work—you know the one, where she got that seaweed on her handle. Everybody stops to look at it at work.”

“I’m thinking we should take the little TV from the bedroom sometime this summer.”

“He’d love it! But if we take him, we have to take the flat-screen, too. It just wouldn’t be fair otherwise. We’d use up a lot of sunscreen, I know, but we need to treat all the electronics equally if we want to live this techno-bio lifestyle.”

They say it takes all kinds to make a world…

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