Baby-Faced on Shelter Island

Baby swimming
Baby swimming. Credit:

At long last the royal baby is born, and England’s monarchy is secured for the next three generations. The pregnancy was watched almost as closely as they are watched on Shelter Island, with the same attention to lineage as well.

“Janet’s pregnant?”

“Yes. She’s due in August.”

“Oh Louise, she had better let the north ferry guys know in advance so she can skip the line if she’s in labor.”

“Of course they know—this is Shelter Island—who doesn’t know she’s pregnant? We’ve got six pregnancies on the Island this summer. The North Ferry guys always get you on the boat first if you’re in labor. They don’t want to deliver a baby on the boat. They’d have to punch an extra ticket for the kid, the mother would probably ask one of them to drive the car for her to get off the ferry, it would really disrupt their routine.”

“What if the baby is born after midnight, after the ferry shuts down, Louise? Lots of babies are born at night you know, and like the old bible passage says, ‘As ye sow, so shall ye reap.’”

“First off, you know the top EMTs can call the ferry any time to transport a woman in labor and if she doesn’t make it, the EMTs at the fire station can certainly deliver a baby.”

“That’s right, they have that Jaws of Life thing.”

“Um, well I suppose in an extreme case they might use that.”

“Who’s the baby related to, Louise?”

“A typical Island pedigree. It would be related to all the Island families from A to M on its mother’s side and all the families from N to Z on its father’s side.”

“I know what you mean, Louise, whenever I fill out the ‘Who To Call In Event of Emergency’ card for my kids at school, it reads like a who’s who on Shelter Island. Do you know what she’s going to name it?”

“If it’s a girl, she’s thinking of Mary or Patricia. That covers six aunts, three great aunts, and one great grandmother. If it’s a boy, she’s thinking of John Michael, and that covers eleven uncles and cousins, and both grandfathers.”

(Meanwhile, at the firehouse…)

“We got three girls due in August?”

“And five due in September, John.”

“Why do they bunch up like that? Can’t we do some kind of planning on this island? No more than two women due a month. Don’t they realize we put ourselves on high alert for them? And why do they always bunch up in September?”

“Child births peak nationwide in September John, nine months after New Year’s Eve.”

“Well, maybe they can get away with that on the mainland, but I say we organize a ‘Let the Fire Crew Plan Your Pregnancy’ campaign.”

“The title might need a little work, John.”

“We’ll throw a cocktail party to launch the campaign, you know, say it with tequila.”

“John, if you’re trying to manage the timing of new pregnancies on the Island, I advise you to skip the tequila.”

“Do you think it would make a difference?”

“About nine times out of ten, John. Nine times out of ten.”

(Meanwhile, at the North Ferry)

“What squares did you get on the pool?”

“What pool?”

“The baby pool for Janet. It’s her third kid, we’ve got a pool going on whether she’ll have the kid in the hospital, at home or on the boat.”

“Has that ever really happened? Has anybody been born on the ferry?”

“Born? I don’t know. Conceived, sure. But born? I don’t think so.”

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