Press on Vineyard

Art Buchwald

August 24, 1993|By Art Buchwald

ALTHOUGH I am one of the frenzied media types, I did not hang out with them until the president came to Martha's Vineyard for his vacation. It was fun to see my pals in action again.

Despite the fact that I make my residence in Washington 10 months a year and spend only two months on the Vineyard, they treated me like an island native -- some weird primitive beast who lives in the Amazon rain forest.

One reporter I know quite well asked me, "What do you people eat?"

I told him, "Tree bark soup and snails."

He didn't know if I meant it or not. He wrote it down.

"How do your women carry their water?"

"On their heads. They go to the well twice a day," I assured him.

"Tell me about the social life."

"We are very simple people. We catch a bear, roast it over the fire and sprinkle salt on it. Salt is something none of us on the Vineyard can do without."

"What about the president? Aren't you swells doing handsprings to get near the president?"

"We are excited that the Great White Father from Washington is on our island," I told him. "But it is still more fun to wade in the marshes looking for duck eggs."

The worst part of being marooned on Martha's Vineyard with the First Family is that you are perceived by the press people you have always worked with as a turncoat who has gone over to the other side. You try to explain that you were here 25 years before the president, but your protests don't fly.

"This island was uninhabited before I came. I was the first one to land here," I told them. "If I had thought it would become a Summer White House I would have discovered Nantucket."

They wrote it down.

"How are the people on Martha's Vineyard adjusting to it all?"

"It has been stressful, particularly trying to find a parking place in town. But you can't blame the president for that. He is unable to build us an 18-story garage until he finances the Soviet grain exports."

I was on a roll, and several of the White House correspondents surrounded me.

"Is the ocean water going to be too cold for Chelsea?"

"I can't speak for her, but most Vineyard teen-agers won't go into the water unless it is sub-freezing."

Someone stuck a microphone in my face. "Why don't we ever see Carly Simon here?"

"Is she supposed to be here?"

"She is, unless she's trying to avoid us -- and if she is doing that for some reason, we'll find out what it is. Do you think Martha's Vineyard will go for Clinton in 1996?"

"I'd bet my life on it -- except for the people who were run into ditches by the president's motorcade during the past few days."

Suddenly a question came from the back.

"Do you people on the island heat your clam chowder or drink it raw?"

"Raw -- we're not animals."

She wrote it down.

Art Buchwald is a syndicated columnist.

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