Bermuda: Paradise Proper
A Moment in a Taxi
My driver Sean Simons is seventh-generation Bermudian, and he tells me that cruise ships put 5,000 to 7,000 tourists a week on the ground in Bermuda in high season, that some 65,000 permanent residents handle them as hoteliers or restaurateurs or taxi drivers or tour agents but some of these residents are not concerned with touring—they work for the “exempt companies”—and Hurricane Fabian in 2003 wrecked a lot of chicken coops, hence the “wild chickens.” If they get in your yard, you can either keep them or call the authorities, who will remove them. The exempt companies include the large international industry of “reinsurance,” the business of insuring insurance companies. The big new buildings downtown are invariably the houses for reinsurance, and the law offices and accountancy offices that attend the business of reinsuring the insuring.
A Moment on the Beach
On Elbow Beach, three generations of women from Baltimore are asked to distinguish Bermuda from the other islands:
The grandmother, who has been to fifteen-odd islands all over the West Indies, from St. Kitts to St. Lucia, thinks.
The mother says, “Cleaner…quieter…safer.”
The grandmother agrees.
The mother says, “The others are wilder. On Nevis you can go to a sugar plantation, but you are on…high alert.”
The grandmother agrees.
The mother and the grandmother agree that on Bermuda you are on no alert.
The girl, four or five or six, keeps her opinions on these matters to herself. That there is no sugar-plantation-going on Bermuda does not concern her. Yet sound of body and sane, she wants to get off the beach and go see Daddy.
A Moment Downtown (First Points of Advice)
Coral, teal, pink, navy, lime, wine, tan, yellow, white, gray, khaki, light blue, gold, green, black, and Breton red are some of the colors the eponymous shorts come in, and poly/wool, poly/cotton, poly/linen, and madras cotton are the fabrics they come in, and the place to get them is the English Sports Shop on Front Street, where I would advise you to, and I did, go and get some. Helpful British gentlemen will help you. They fitted John Lennon for a custom-made suit shortly before he was killed. Did he get the suit? Mr. Creamer says it was posted to him, and Mr. Hamshere says that his manager (Mr. Creamer: “His PA—personal assistant—” Mr. Hamshere: “Yes, what was his name?” “Seaman.” “Unfortunate name—but it has an a in it”) came down and said they might bury him in it, so he is sure John Lennon got the suit.
The Bermuda short chiefly differs from the casual short in the matter of “rise,” the difference between the outseam and the inseam. As the waist increases in the Bermuda short, the inseam shortens, effecting, in Mr. Hamshere’s decorous phrasing, “more ballroom.” I ask Mr. Hamshere if he is familiar with the tape of Lyndon Johnson’s ordering Haggar slacks and requesting the crotch be let out lest they “cut” his “nuts” and feel like he’s “riding a wire fence,” but while he is most sympathetic to Mr. Johnson’s plight he is not familiar with our presidential history to this extent. The inseam of the Bermuda short falls behind the outseam when looked at from the side of the leg; thus the seams are not parallel as they are in the casual short. The inseam-side hem in the Bermuda short is cut to rise about a half inch as it approaches the inseam, describing a shallow triangle; thus the inside hem is a half inch higher than the outside hem. This higher hem inside the leg prevents the fabric in there from flapping. You do not want flappy on the inside of your leg wearing the Bermuda short. That might be a worse affair than want of ballroom owing to inadequate rise. With these critical features of the Bermuda short in place, you can get ten pairs or twenty or thirty, and match them with thirty pairs of kneesocks, and wear these to work every day of the year, though the winter is sometimes not deemed shorts weather, and be natty beyond natty. A man in a proper pair of these shorts is a proper man.
Beneath and behind the English Sports Shop in an old livery tunnel made now into a shopping arcade is the Gem Cellar run by Chet Trott. There are Trotts all over the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Possibly the Trotts of South Carolina are some part Bermudian. Bermudians went to South Carolina, among other places, in the early days seeking better religious prospects. Chet Trott has made a pair of hog-penny cuff links in 14-karat gold that I want very much for my new shorts outfit, but they are $715 and I don’t get them. But this is decidedly where I would get them. The nice silver Bermudian toad for $55 is more my thing. I don’t get that either. I’ve got ballroom and nothing flapping inside my leg and I’m good.