Sheltered Islander: Cheesecake on Ice and the Power of Women

Cheesecake can go a long way on Shelter Island
Cheesecake can go a long way on Shelter Island, Photo: Evgeny Sergeev, Linjerry/iStock/Thinkstock

I have often lamented about the time spent waiting on ferry lines. And I have failed to give enough praise to the crews who work in the sweltering heat or face stinging cold, on smooth seas or water so choppy they have to empty their stomachs over the side between taking tickets.

Through this past winter, the worst since the last Ice Age, the ferries, to the best of my knowledge, didn’t stop running. That’s a braver accomplishment than you think. Working with 20- or 30-foot-wide platforms of ice slamming into the sides of what is basically a giant soap dish on the water and not easy to navigate.

They say there’s no atheists in fox holes, and I’d like to add ice-bound ferries to that list. But, then again, every cloud has a silver lining. And now that the dark days of winter are well behind us, it’s finally appropriate to laugh at some of the occurrences.

“Megan, it’s Sally, I’m on the same ferry as the Entenmann’s truck. We’re heading for the island but we’re stuck in the ice. I just heard they just now called the Coast Guard to send an ice cutter. It’ll take at least 45 minutes for it to get here. “

“Understood. Cathy and me can get then in 10 minutes. Cathy has that nice big sled. What’s your plan to distract the driver?”

“Peggy’s here. She’s dry shaving her legs in her front seat now. And she always has extra makeup in her car, so she’ll take care of distracting the driver. So it’ll be a four-way split for whatever we can haul. Get a move on, I’ll watch for you.”

“Right, I think I can grab a few bright orange vests from Danny’s closet so we look like rescuers. I’ll get a black marker and write something on the vests.”

“Brilliant! If the driver catches on, I’ll tell him we’re rescuing the cheesecake for him. I’ll tell him cheesecake goes bad if it gets too cold. I’ll tell him the cheesecakes will be waiting for him when he docks. You should be long gone by then. We’ll meet at your house afterward.”

“What if the driver makes a police report?”

“I think it’ll be hard to prove his case without any evidence…”

“Brilliant as usual, good luck, Sal.”

20 minutes later.

“Captain, take a look through these binoculars. Am I seeing things or are there two females pulling a sled towards us on the pack ice?”

“No, Bill, there are two crazy women crossing the ice with a sled for no apparent reason. They’re waving to someone on this boat. They are wearing fluorescent orange road-work vests that say Bakery Rescue. Gee, nothin’ suspicious there. Look out and see who they’re waving to.”

“It’s Sally Flynn, she’s waving them in. Captain, what’s going on? I can’t see too well, she’s behind that truck.”

“The bakery truck, right?”

“Yes, Captain. What the hell. Sally’s lowering a big bag off the boat to them. What are they putting on that sled? Man, where’s the driver. Uh oh. You aren’t gonna like this Captain. Peggy is in the cab of the truck with the driver.”

“And there goes a second load off the boat. Sled looks full. Looks like they’re turning around and heading back to the island. Peggy’s getting out of the truck cab now. Wonder what went wrong there?”

“Nothin’ went wrong, Bill, she was the distraction. But that driver’s going to find his load has been lightened by about 40 cheesecakes. “

“How do you know they took cheesecake, Captain?”

“Same way I’d know the chocolate was gone if a Breyers truck was on board. Years of studying women. Damn, it always works for them.”

“What does, Captain?”

“Their ability to distract us. You see, Bill, I’ve learned over time that the weaker sex is actually the stronger sex because of the reliable weakness of the stronger sex for the weaker sex.”


“It will make more sense as time goes by, Bill.”

And the beat goes on…

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