Zenned out


Dear Nicole,

I’m a year-round Islander who managed to avoid the hectic pace of the past few months. When other Vineyarders ask me how my summer has been, how can I best respond “I had a calm, peaceful summer while you were working and/or socializing yourself nearly to death” without becoming a pariah?

Summer Zenner

Dear Zenner:

First of all, congratulations. Unless you are both independently wealthy and lacking absolutely all ambition, I don’t know how you did it. But I believe you mean it, so my hat is off to you. Please tell us your secret.

As for confessing this (possible genetic abnormality) to other Islanders: your “and/or” above displays an admirable sensitivity to the spectrum of Island circumstances, and that should guide your answer. There’s a big difference between somebody who’s feeling fried because of all the catered events they’re attending, somebody who’s fried because of all the catered events they’re catering … and somebody who’s fried because of all the catered events at which they are serving (to save for college, or send home to their family, or simply pay the rent). If you’re too wrecked to get out of bed because you drank too many beers last night, you’re not in the same boat as somebody who’s wrecked because they spent the evening serving you (and hundreds of others) those beers. There are those who never get a tan because their dermatologist told them to cover up on the golf course, and those who never get a tan because they’re working overtime in the hospital or at an office job.

Like I said, it’s a spectrum, not a binary system — there are people who cater a swanky fundraiser on Friday, then attend a swanky fundraiser on Saturday. There are people who get sunburned because they’re out sailing one day, and then get more sunburned because they’re on a mow crew the next 10 days straight.

But you know all that, because you live here. So really the answer is: Modulate your response with some awareness of who’s asking it. I’m not saying be insincere, I’m saying be sensitive. Do not apologize. Do not gloat.

But no matter who you’re talking to, you don’t actually have any control over their response. If they disapprove of you for not being stressed out, for Pete’s sake don’t let that stress you out — then what are you left with? Nobody who disapproves of your being happy and healthy deserves your friendship anyhow.

That’s my take.


Bemused readers ask novelist Nicole Galland for her take on navigating the precarious social landscape that comes with living on the Vineyard. Nicole, who grew up in West Tisbury, is known locally as the co-founder of Shakespeare for the Masses at the Vineyard Playhouse and is the author of “I, Iago.” Her combined knowledge of both this Island and the world’s greatest melodramas compels her to help prevent unnecessary tragedy wherever possible. Trying to untangle a messy Island ethics or etiquette question? Send it to OnIsland@mvtimes.com.