Monday, May 2, 2011

5 Steps to Island Paradise

No, it's not what you think.
I'm talking about the strange and eccentric phenomenon Vineyarders like to call The Island Car.

I don't know how this happened, but my car is slowly turning into one.

Do not be mistaken; this is not a flattering picture.

I didn't mean for it to happen. I pledged and vowed and otherwise wrote my name in blood and swapped spit to avoid the perils of owning an Island Car. But despite the best of intentions, it is slowly happening. Like the little pods in the Predator movies.

My niece likes to remind me that, given a great economic or global disaster, one could easily live off the layers of stuff in an island car.

What layers, I ask? She hesitates, not wanting to reveal too much. I think she is just hoarding, in case the above events actually do occur. Finally she replies. The car tends to be like ... a moving time capsule, she admits.

You got your hay remnants from last year's July 4th parade. Then there are the greens left from, oh, more than one Christmas tree. Oh, and the to-go cups from the last and second-to-last, off-island trip that involved a drive-thru, a Big Box Store and the local wholesale grocery mart. Then you can add to that boxes of clothes to donate, leftovers from festival goody bags, a styrofoam to-go box from the Black Dog, and, well, you get the picture.

I think to myself: hmm, there's still a leftover Burger King drink container in the rear seat tray, from the last off-island trip 2 weeks ago. And I do have 2 cartons of donation clothing to go to the Red Cross Bin, when I get around to it. And then I noticed a small fir branch stuck under the back seat from when we bought our holiday wreaths....

So when do you know you have an Island Car?

In order of importance, but not appearance:

Has to be low, low, low. Not commensurate with percentage of rust.
My husband picked me up for our first date ever - an island BLIND DATE, mind you - in a 12-year-old, probably once gray, Toyota Corolla wagon. You could see the road whiz by, under my passenger footwell. In his defense, it was clean, and I didn't have to wipe sand off the seat when I got in.

And my son's younger island friend was just tickled pink when she got the family car recently - mileage? 34,000. Age? Late 80s. Rust - unimportant, but see for yourself. It runs great.  >

2. Age
Here on the island, as with most other things, age is irrelevant. Same with cars. New, old, indifferent. If it runs and will pass inspection - you are good to go.

3. Self-Sustainment
Can you possibly live off the usual debris in your car?
Has the backseat disappeared beneath layers of stuff?
Do you have at least one marine-related item in the way-back of your car?
Congratulations, you are on your way to owning an Island Car.

4.Town Decals
First off, here decals like off-road permits, private beach access, Town Dump stickers, are prime possessions.

If you think putting the garbage out in your b.v.d.'s at 6 am in the morning is bad - try having to go buy Town Garbage Stickers and hauling it to the dump - Wednesdays not included.

And a local beach permit or off-road access sticker is like crack in the ghetto. Showing off a string of these babies on you back window is like showing a pedigree. You have arrived. You are ... an island dweller.

5.Decorative Touches
A)You can always tell who has had their car on the Vineyard longer, by the amount of long, stem-to-stern score lines along car sides.

On the Mainland, these would be greeted with horror and insurance mayhem. Here they are proudly worn, a badge of honor here, for they come not from hooligans out for a night of mischief.

Nay, these are brush cuts - Vineyard Pinstripes, they call it - won from bumping along long, scrub-oak-lined dirt roads to and from the best kept secret fishing and swimming spots.

B)Various and sundry bumper stickers that may or may not include the following:
Think Globally, Act Locally
Love Is The Answer
Free Tibet
Question Reality
Please Don't Hit Me, I'm Not 100% Sure About My Coverage
Gun Control Means Use Two Hands
Got Bait?
Any fishing-related product i.e. - names of rods, reels, lures, boats, fish
Any previous decade political campaign stickers
Sports Team stickers - "Yankees Suck" is popular here

On the mainland, these criteria might indicate you're a mountain man hailing from northern Idaho.
Here? It's just another indicator of the island's insouciant way of life - they know what's important, what's not, and what to thumb their noses at.

No,  I didn't mean for it to happen.
Not really.
But that "It's All Good" sticker I got from our Hawaii trip is gonna look really good on the back bumper.

Have a good one. :)

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