Washing of the Watchbands Marks Summer’s Mid-Point for Preppies | HumorOutcasts

Washing of the Watchbands Marks Summer’s Mid-Point for Preppies

July 17, 2017
By

SEAGULL COVE, Mass.  This secluded village, a township so obscure it isn’t listed on maps of the municipality of which it is a part, is a place you probably can’t get into if your family didn’t buy a summer place within its borders long before you were born.  “It’s sad, really, and I feel for those people,” says Oliver “Budge” Northcott, a long-time resident from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  “But it’s not my fault they chose the wrong grandparents.”


“I’m sorry, but if my grandmother didn’t know your grandmother, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

 

As exclusive as it is, however, this quiet seaside neighborhood is always packed to the gills mid-July for a tribal ritual not observed anywhere else in the United States; the ceremonial washing of grosgrain watchbands or, in cases where the fashion accessory is too dirty or damaged to survive until Labor Day, a burial of the same at sea.

“It’s a throwback to the sumptuary laws of our Puritan ancestors,” says Rev. Ancil Fleming, pastor of St. Stephen’s Church, a congregation dedicated to the patron saint of haberdashery.  “If you were successful and made enough money to buy a pew in the local congregation, you were allowed to add a ribbon to your clothing without being stoned to death.”

“Grosgrain” is a corded fabric whose weft is heavier than its warp.  Watchbands made from the material function as gang “colors” among “preppies,” white Anglo-Saxon Protestants who attend private secondary schools.  While such bands are typically either striped or solid in color, so-called “super-preppy” crime syndicates have been known to flout convention by wearing bands with plaid patterns.


Don’t be messin’ with these bad girls.

 

The washing of the watchbands stands in sharp contrast to other community events up and down Cape Cod, such as the blessing of the Portugese fishing fleet in Provincetown and the psychoanalysts’ three-legged race in Wellfleet.  “We are a bit more reserved than some of our fellow summer residents, it’s true,” notes Northcott.  “On the other hand, we’re going to heaven and they can throw their loud parties to h-e-double hockey sticks.”

Con Chapman

I'm a Boston-area writer, author of two novels (most recently "Making Partner"), a baseball book about the Red Sox and the Yankees ("The Year of the Gerbil"), ten published plays and 45 books of humor available in print and Kindle formats on amazon.com. My latest book "Scooter & Skipper Blow Things Up!" was released by HumorOutcasts Press last year. My humor has appeared in The Atlantic, The Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Globe and Barron's, and I am working on a biography of Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington's long-time alto sax player for Oxford University Press .

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2 Responses to Washing of the Watchbands Marks Summer’s Mid-Point for Preppies

  1. July 17, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    New England is a great place to live if your ancestors were good at making up activities that would turn into traditions.

    It’s also a great place if you love seafood, fall colors and frigid winters.

  2. July 17, 2017 at 9:59 am

    I really want to see that three-legged race. I bet it’s nuts LOL



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