Early this year, just before the dark ages began, I was at the Dumptique looking for a picture frame for my “clown on black velvet” masterpiece, when I came across a dusty, washed out watercolor in a cherry wood frame. Imagine my surprise when I removed the backing from the frame and discovered the original 1607 Charter for the County of Dukes County, signed by Bartholomew Gosnold and King James.
In it, there is a codicil that states the Monarch of England has the power to appoint a Duke of the County of Dukes County, “who shall have final decree on all matters of governance.”
For the past seven months, I’ve sent Queen Elizabeth daily emails, letters, faxes and telegrams, requesting appointment to the Duke of the County of Dukes County. Today, Her Majesty responded with a resounding “Whatever.” Therefore, on this 15th day of July, year of our Lord 2020, I declare myself the Duke of the County of Dukes County, and hereby decree the following:
The Dukes County Department of Redundancy Department shall be abolished and the “County of Dukes County” shall hereafter be known as “Dukes County.”
The year 2021 shall be declared a do-over for the year 2020. All birthdays, graduations and holidays shall be celebrated twice in 2021.
Construction of a roundabout at Five Corners shall begin immediately.
All climate change deniers shall take a mandatory science course at summer school.
An exact replica of the Roman Colosseum shall be built at the Airport Business Park.
Whereas it makes no sense to cram everything into one week, Illumination Night shall be in June, fireworks in July, and the Agricultural Fair in August.
Rental mopeds shall be abolished in perpetuity.
Drivers who slow down in front of the high school when the yellow lights are not flashing shall be required to take remedial reading at summer school.
In a bold experiment that I shall name “representative democracy,” there shall be one Island selectboard, with proportional representation from each of the six towns.
A “License to Complain” shall be issued to all people who attend annual town meeting. Those who complain without a license shall be fined.
Town meetings shall last no longer than three hours.
MVC meetings shall last no longer than six hours.
Whereas non-migratory Canada Geese are befouling our water, defiling our commons and also make a horrible sound, all Canada Geese without a valid passport and work visa shall be deported immediately.
All subjects who refuse to wear a mask and all anti-vaxxers shall be given free transportation to Penikese Island.
All town Highway Departments shall use their snow plows to smooth out dirt roads in their respective townships. “Private roads” are used by the general public so let’s fix them for crying out loud.
Whereas it should not take two hours to drive from Tisbury to Edgartown, school bus stops shall be a minimum of one quarter mile apart.
The stocks shall be installed in front of the Dukes County Gaol and used to punish anyone guilty of littering, animal cruelty or general nastiness.
A $100 bounty shall be placed on skunks. Enough already. They’re not just pesky and smelly but they’re ravaging our native fauna. Skunks that are trapped alive shall be shipped to Nantucket under the cover of darkness, just for the fun of it.
There shall be free pizza for all on my birthday.
Healthcare workers, bus drivers, supermarket, post office and drug store employees and all those who worked on the “front line” during the pandemic shall be given a one month paid vacation and a year’s supply of apple fritters from Back Door Donuts.
Drivers caught texting shall have their smartphones replaced by flip phones for no less than a year.
Winter shall officially be from December 15 to May 15. Let’s not kid ourselves anymore.
The term “washashore” shall be heretofore abolished. Anyone who lives here year-round is an Islander. One’s place of birth, like inherited wealth, is luck of the draw, not an accomplishment, and it’s nothing to be smug about. Please don’t tell the Queen I said that.
Motorists who do not give “the wave” to thank someone who lets them into traffic shall have their license suspended until they complete a course in good manners.
All school age children shall have at least one hour a day of unstructured time to “go out and play.”
The good citizens of Naushon shall pay taxes like everyone else.
The Island Theatre shall be replaced with a mixed-use building that includes workforce housing and a statue of the Duke of Dukes County on the roof, looking over his kingdom.
A person at the front of a long line who engages in long conversation with the postal clerk shall be sent to the back of the line.
The internet and cell phone transmission towers shall be shut down on weekends.
The MV Island home shall be repurposed as an artificial reef and sunk in Nantucket Sound.
The landing fee for private jets shall include a daily run to Boston for medical appointments and Trader Joe’s runs.
As your Duke, I shall always keep an open mind to opposing points of view. I can also do whatever I want, because I’m the Duke. Therefore, if President Trump is re-elected, Dukes County shall become part of New Zealand until 2024. Any of my subjects who object shall be offered free transportation to the red state of his or her choice.
Barry Stringfellow lives in Edgartown