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So how many Saranac Lake locals does it take?

June 4, 2010
Adirondack Daily Enterprise

I've always been fascinated by word play.

And when I say word play, I pretty much mean all word play. Puns, jokes, riddles, anagrams, palindromes, acronyms, homonyms, cinnamons - oops, sorry about that - you name 'em, and I enjoy 'em.

But while I can stay endlessly amused with words and their variations, I realize it can wear on other people's nerves, which is why I try to keep my mega-verbosity in check with folks who aren't like-minded. The key word here is "try," since I'm generally unsuccessful keeping my mouth shut about anything.

But someone I can quip with and not feel I'm imposing on is Matt Locatelli, since he's a wordsmith himself. And good thing he is, since he and his wife Carrie own our local bookstore, Fact and Fiction.

Early in the week I found myself in F and F, trading verbal exchanges with Matt, when we somehow got into light bulb jokes. You know them, I'm sure. For example: How many revolutionaries does it take to change a light bulb? (None. There's nothing wrong with the light bulb - the system itself must change). Or how many mystery writers? (Two. One to screw it in and one to give it a twist at the end). Or how many psychiatrists? (Only one, but it's very lengthy and expensive, and the light bulb has to really want to change).

And in the midst of our palaver, Matt suddenly said, "OK. So how many Saranac Lake locals does it take to change a light bulb?"

"Huh? I fumbled.

"Yeah," he said. "How many Saranac Lake locals?'

Of course there was no answer, since it was the first time the question had been asked - at least to our knowledge.

But the gauntlet had been thrown down. Now it was up to us to see who could outdo whom. As it turned out, being the diplomatic lad I am, I believe we tied. You can decide for yourself when you read our answers later on.

But what happened between Matt and me is irrelevant. What IS relevant is the result - I started asking a bunch of people that question. I didn't do it systematically, but just whipped it on whoever I ran into or who I chatted with on email or the phone.

The answers were as varied and individualized as the folks who gave them and now they'll be presented for your enjoyment.

But first, a note of warning: These answers were all made in good humor and good faith no one had a hidden agenda or axe to grind, nor did they submit them anonymously. They were all done solely out of a sense of fun, by townies for townies, so it's us laughing at (and we hope, with) us.

Nonetheless, I realize some people can take offense at humor that others find delightful. It's something I hope to avoid here, but if it happens, I'd like you to make yourself known.

Just write your complaint on the back of a $20 bill, put it in an envelope with my name on the front, and drop it off in the Enterprise's office during working hours. I promise I'll give each one my utmost consideration.

Another note: While everyone who answered is a Saranac Laker, there are differences among them. The capital (N) means the person is an SL native - they were born here. An (L) denotes an SL Local, defined by me as someone who wasn't born here, but who lived here long enough ago to remember Tyson's diner, The Top Hat, and the St. Regis Hotel. A lower case (l) designates someone who came here after the demise of Tyson's, et al, but has at least a couple decades of SL residency. And even if they've lived away from here for years, in my book, they're still Saranac Lakers, tried and true.

And now the answers:

Karen Miller: Four: One to change the bulb and three, at DJ's beforehand, to listen to him complain about having to do it.

Mary-Jean Hayes Rowe (N): Two: One King and one Queen, elected by the village for many years of meritorious work.

Russell Sheffrin (N): 13: One to file the necessary APA permits; 10 to write letters to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise protesting the interference in this matter, thus compelling the agency to grant a permit without an adjudicating hearing; one to drive to Malone to get a light bulb at a reasonable price, since there's no Walmart in SL; and one to watch the homeowner's house in his absence, to keep it out of the hands of rich downstaters.

Carolyn Morin Salls (L): Only one - Bernie Sauvie.

Eamon Peer (l): None. It'd be outsourced to Tupper Lake, since they're so much smarter than us.

Debra Silver: It'd depend on who formed the committee.

Diane Keating Seidenstein (N): It's not a matter of "how many," but "when," which would be sometime between hunting and fishing seasons.

Joe Keegan (L): Are there any locals left?

Peter Sayles (N): I'm not sure it'd ever get done. First, someone would have to go to Walmart to get the bulb. Then he'd have to argue with an area transplant about the right way to change it. And after that, a couple of committees would have to form to make the final decision.

Karen Boldis: It'd depend on which county and township it was in.

Heidi Picker Millea (N): A light bulb? What's a light bulb? Just get me some matches for my candles.

Donna Sullivan: None, because none of them really want to change.

Duke Derby (N): 1000: One to change the bulb and 999 to complain about the APA.

Celia Evans: Only one. But they better do it right, because if they don't, everyone in town will know.

Bunk Griffin (N): It'd take the whole village. Due to budget constraints, the village couldn't afford the upkeep of its streetlights, so the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce would lease the poles, install coin-operated switches, and charge a quarter for 15 minutes of artificial illumination.

Residents and business owners would be responsible for changing the bulbs in their immediate locale.

Barb Gant (L): One and a roll of duct tape to hold the stepladder together.

And the two that started this mishegas:

The Dope (N): If ya gotta ask that question, you're not a local, so it's none of your business in the first place.

Matt Locatelli: I change my own light bulbs, my father changed his own light bulbs, my grandfather changed his own light bulbs and his grandfather changed the wick on his oil lamps.

I've reserved this one for last, since I always defer to my Betters:

Sheila Betters Schoenwetter (N): The whole darn community. First, the historians have to reflect on how it was done in the past. Then the "experts" have to discuss how it should be done. Next, the Enterprise has to take pictures and write a special feature on it. And finally the whole town would have to celebrate its successful completion!



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