23 Aug 2016

What’s My Line … On Nantucket

Some of us are old enough to remember this popular CBS game show that ran in syndication through 1975. “What’s My Line” featured a panel of celebrities who were allowed 10 questions to identify the occupation of the contestants. On some episodes, they upped the ante on the intrigue by inviting a mystery guest which required blindfolding the panelists. It was a day and time when live studio audiences ruled the day and their gasps and giggles sometimes tipped the panel off as to the accuracy of their questioning. Mostly it was a way to enjoy an evening of good clean fun where viewers at home were invited to have a front row seat in the festivities.
It might take a lot more than 10 questions to identify who’s who on Nantucket. Although the island is sometimes referred to as a “playground for the rich and famous,” there are still plenty of places where it truly doesn’t matter if you’re either…and typically anywhere you have to stand in line tends to be a great equalizer. I recently stopped by Claudette’s Sandwich Shop in ‘Sconset to splurge on one of their thick veggie sandwiches complete with their famed secret sauce. The line was deep inside the little summer shack and out the door onto the front porch…everyone politely waiting their turn.
Observing people who stand in line is both entertaining and educational. As I perused the Claudette clientele patiently waiting, I noted that it was impossible to tell who was who or what anyone does for a living…everyone replete in their casual summer and beach attire, flip flops and baseball caps. I also noticed nobody was impatient, rude or pushy. The rules in this beloved little ‘Sconset mainstay are the same as several other local establishments where lines form – cash only, no menu substitutions, get in line. There isn’t a black card, gold card, silver card, AARP, AAA or Stop and Shop card that will give you priority status. It’s all for one and one for all and every one of us is thrilled when it’s our turn for the lunchtime indulgence.
There are a few other places on Nantucket where lines form and we clamor to get the goods. Virtually any time on a summer day or night there are people standing in line outside the Juice Bar just to get their hands around one of those coveted waffle cones. That same “mob mentality” applies at The Downey Flake where donut lovers line up when the doors open at 6:00 a.m. just to get the first batch of the piping hot sensations. Loyalists can be found waiting in long lines at Cisco Brewery or the Chicken Box, Island Kitchen on a Sunday morning and nobody minds a 90-minute wait for a picnic table at Millie’s Restaurant in Madaket on a warm summer evening. There’s no question, once the “buzz” starts around a fan favorite, people come in droves. On Nantucket, just like the baseball field in Iowa, “if you build it, they will come.”
Where are you willing to spend some time in a long line before your Nantucket summer draws to a close? Fall in line with other Nantucket Red clad enthusiasts who don’t want to miss the best the island has to offer. Engage fellow line bearers in a question (or 10) and see if you can identify what their line is…and make some new Nantucket friends while you’re at it!
Line up.

Shellie Dunlap 
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