The Working Waterfront

It’s a wet and wild world for this old man


Phil Crossman
Posted 2020-08-12
Last Modified 2020-10-04

I’m having a little trouble with the younger crowd here on the island, particularly boys but some girls too.

Some guys my age might be upset by such delinquent behavior, such aggression—and it is aggression; make no mistake about it. It’s as if they get a kick out of harassing an old man, out of ambushing and ganging up on him. I’m not troubled—bring it on!

A few weeks ago, I made the rounds at an island flea market and stopped at one particularly appealing table that featured salted peanuts and homemade honey. The goods were arranged on the tailgate of his pick-up and I was so enthusiastic, especially about the nuts, that I let my guard down for a minute and at that moment, one of the aforementioned culprits darted out from behind the truck and attacked me.

I should have known better. This is not my first rodeo. I did manage to regain my composure and give him a run for his money, but for a while it was a near thing.

On another occasion, I walked by the patio dining area of a local restaurant. I exchanged pleasantries with a few of those enjoying dinner, including one family of several adults and two youngsters, a boy and a girl. Each challenged me to a fight—right in front of their parents who, rather than exert some parental control, seemed to be enjoying the hostility as much as their drinks and did nothing to rein them in.

I think what my own folks would have done if I’d behaved that way toward a (considerably) elder. The most determined of these island delinquents, however, was a boy in my neighborhood who climbed up to the roof of my entryway by jumping from the top of my recently delivered woodpile, and waiting there for me to leave the house. I don’t know how long he waited but it was effective.

And now, this year particularly, the parents actually seem to be encouraging them. A young mother not long ago called me over to the other side of the street where she appeared to need help lifting something. She needed no such thing, needed nothing in fact but was simply a co-conspirator with her son who jumped gleefully out of the shadows with a squirt gun in each hand and managed to inflict quite a bit of injury before I was able pull my own weapon out of my jeans pocket and give nearly as good as I got.

And now a young family with two particularly troublesome kids, a son and daughter, has moved into the neighborhood. The other day an island lady had them out for a walk and stopped at the edge of my lawn to chat. The kids were hostile and threatening and later on she sent me a message alerting me to the fact that the two were planning an attack. She even forwarded photos of them appearing to be loading weapons from a lawn pool. Things are looking up!

Phil Crossman lives on Vinalhaven.