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photo (1)It is safe to say that we call agree, every joke about preppy folks has been said, and said and said again.  And as a proud graduate of UConn, home to world class and world famous sports programs and an equally top notch Puppet Arts program, I thought I was pretty versed in preppy dress.  As an adult, I have spent a good part of every summer in picturesque Waterford, CT, a sleepy little town on the edge of the Long Island Sound at the prestigious Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.  I am secure in my efforts to maintain my femininity while comfortably treading the line between New England preppy and cosmopolitan chic all in my own special way.  And then, I landed here in Nantucket.

Last night I went to a comedy show and quickly learned that I was not alone.  The performers joked about families looking like a spilt box of crayon or pastels (I’ve forgotten exactly).  And of course every single comedian joked about Nantucket Reds, something only known about in the northeast.  I’m not sure if the true denizens of the island feel that these jokes are offensive or a loving homage, but as usual, I am curious to find out.  So, on my way over to my new home away from home away from home, The Athenium (also known as the library), where I do a lot of my writing, I stopped in to an island staple, Murray’s Toggery Shop.  (Toggery, I just learned, means clothes).  The only reason for this journey was to check another box on my list of “to do’s” here on Nantucket.  I have now been in the “Home of the Nantucket Reds”.  Check.

As I learn more about Nantucket, I feel I owe some folks a personal apology.  I am sorry to those families that I may or may not have said looked “like they were barfed out of a sherbet container”.  I’m equally sorry to the families on the beach wearing matching outfits that I might have sneered at, either internally or externally.  Let’s chalk it up to my complete and total unawareness of envy.  You appear to live, what many consider to be, an idyllic life.  But more than anyone, I am must apologize to the man that I was so overtly enthralled with, I identified him as “the perfect cross between Captain Ahab and Captain Stubing”.  This perfectly innocent, and I am sure very kind man, was proudly dressed in his blue and white striped double breasted blazer with gold buttons and firmly creased white trousers, when I first saw him.  His full head of silver hair coiffed magnificently and the collar of his shirt starched to perfection.  “He’s inspired by Uncle Phil from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air” my cohort announced during our brief stop over at the venerable White Elephant.  I laughed with joy until tears filled my eyes.  But it wasn’t until we were leaving the grounds of this famous complex that I realized how wonderfully picturesque the entire scene had been and what and arse I had been.  Why so quick to judge?  

I admit that this realization didn’t stop me from calling home to report on what I had seen and to share a good laugh.  But once the laughter died down, I confessed.  Life is quite nice here.  Dignified actually.  People on Nantucket appear to have a sense of history and decorum, and as long as they are not turning their noses up at others, what’s so bad about that? In reality, I was the one turning my noes up, wasn’t I?  On the other end of the phone, I was met with, “I have no doubt that you’ll come home looking just like them”.  Well this is true because I plan on purchasing my fall clothes at the local thrift shops, but that’s not the point.  How did my open-minded New York self become so closed off as not to embrace life here?  

The truth is, from ages 3 to 8, I rarely left the house without newly ironed bows in my hair.  (A look loving enforced by mother, a woman who taught be about clothing, style, craftsmanship and most off all, tradition).  At that age, there was little I loved more than to dress up for lunch with my proper Bostonian grandmother and my wild-child mother.  I enjoyed the fancy napkin resting firmly on my lap.  I embraced tradition and valued the lessons of those who came before us from a very early age.  That is not to say that I haven’t been known to challenge all of it.

While like many creative types, I like to be different, I have always had a knack for fitting in.  In some circles, they even call me “the passable one”.  (A label that I mixed feelings about).  I endeavor to celebrate the unique and the seemingly normal equally. But sometimes, (perhaps often), I can admit that a hyper-critical sense of humor kicks in.  And for that Nantucket, I am sorry. Nantucket Reds can be hot from time to time and I admit to finding men in polo shirts sexy.  There’s even a Lily Pulitizer dress in a window in town that I am coveting.  

Most everyone in town knows that this past weekend The New York Times published and article about red pants.  I can only assume that they are sharing the same sentiments of embarrassment followed by a sense of celebration that I am.  Mea Culpa Nantucket.  You are wonderful people in your very traditional, yet unique, way.