You could be an umpteenth generation Mayhew, Daggett or Pacheco on this Island, but these days if you order a new telephone line you’re going to feel as if you just got off the boat and asked the nearest bystander to point you in the direction of “Oaks Bluff.”
Why is this so? Well, because your new phone number will be assigned a prefix — my own new one is 687 — that you’ve never heard of before but which puts you in mind of a suburb of Pawtucket, and you’re going to remember the sweet old days when everyone had a 693 prefix, with only the greenest of the newcomers subjected to the much less prestigious 696.
Fair warning: If you’re still sitting on a 693 telephone number, do not, whatever you do, forfeit it to the great telephone lottery in the sky. Hold on to that oldie but goodie prefix or consider auctioning it off at the next Possible Dreams auction to one of those rich parvenues who wants us to think his 10,000-square-foot house has been here for more than 10 minutes.
Moving on . . . recently at the bookstore I had a stack of 19th-century Balzac editions on sale at the front of my store. Twenty-two of them. You would think even a single elderly Balzac, with its charming frontispiece etching, would be worth a pretty penny but, according to eBay and other sources of value, an old edition of Pere Goriot might fetch five bucks whereas a first edition of Valley of the Dolls could be worth thousands. Well, commerce is a freaky proposition, so I put a price of $50 on the twenty-two Balzacs. They sat around forlornly for two or three weeks until, finally, a man who professed to be a Balzac nut bought them.
What happened next may seem like an unconnected story, but bear with me. Half an hour later a woman in sneakers and sweatshirt, and with long curly black hair streaming from a do-rag, bounced into my shop. After some top-notch small talk — this gal had the charm and enthusiasm of a morning talk show host — she whipped out a bottle of spray cleaner, spritzed some on a cloth and, with several deft swipes, removed all the grime from a nearby red-painted step ladder. “You see?” she said, indicating the suddenly gleaming surfaces, “It removes every bit of dirt without stripping the paint.”
She was right. Her demonstration was a real-life infomercial. It was actually better than an infomercial since anything that’s filmed or taped could also be faked. It turned out she was selling cases of this miracle cleaner for some astronomical amount, but I could also purchase a single concentrated bottle, enough to make up several dozens of bottles over the course of my lifetime — in fact I would probably never run out — for $40. Done. I handed her $40 in cash, we said our extremely affectionate goodbyes, and off she sailed to visit other stores.
It was only about 10 minutes later that I saw the bigger picture: I had just exchanged 22 antique editions of Balzac for a bottle of cleaning fluid. Is this any way to live?
This just in from Robert Iadicicco at the Oak Bluffs Senior Center: The next Friday Conversations event on June 13 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. will feature William O’Brien, chairman of the Dukes County Charter Study Commission. The group is finishing up its work and Mr. O’Brien will be able to convey an overall sense of the research and conclusions drawn.
At the Oak Bluffs Public Library, a fun event is planned for Saturday, May 31 at 3 p.m.: Graphic Novels will be discussed by author and cartoonist Don Hinkle, covering the wide variety and evolution of this popular genre, backed up by images on the library’s big screen.
Carlin Hart from the Oak Bluffs School reports that on Friday, June 6, children’s author Sarah Pennypacker will visit all second, third and fourth graders to talk about her beloved characters Clementine and Stuart.
And here’s the public library lineup of children’s events in this coming week: Today, Friday, May 23 at 3:30 p.m. is Story Time for 5 to 10-year-olds with a catepillar and butterfly theme, reading and crafts. Wednesday, May 28 at 10:30 a.m. is Story Time for preschoolers with a bird and eggs theme: Kids will make a felt bird with a googly eye and a real feather. Thursday, May 29 from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. is teen games with Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution for ages 10 to 18.