As mentioned in my previous post, my friends, Ulla and Charles, invited Milton and I to spend the weekend at their lovely home in Hampton Bays. According to Wikipedia, Hampton Bays is a hamlet in Suffolk County, New York in the Town of Southampton. Or, as Milton said, “You figure out how we’re going to get there.”
On Saturday morning, we rode the Long Island Railroad from Penn Station to our destination. The train ride took a few hours. For much of our journey, the passengers sitting across from us talked loudly and incessantly about numerous grisly murders. Exasperated, Milton muttered, “How many murders are in this conversation?” This made me laugh and in doing so I accidentally squeezed the polka dot bikini clad rubber chicken squeaky toy we had brought for our friends’ border collies, Tulip and Astro.
This momentarily silenced the murderers row narrators and caused the guy sitting in front of us reading his iPad to jump about fifty feet. Milton recommended that I muzzle the chicken or face the consequences of getting our throats slit possibly with a new iPad app.
Ulla was waiting for us at the station in her air-conditioned car, which was brilliant since we both nearly suffered heat stroke upon exiting the train into the blast furnace-like temperature outside. She had to work a few hours more, so she drove us to Sag Harbor where Milton tried in vain to scarf a rum raisin ice cream cone that was determined to drip on his hand and shoe in a melted mess in the searing afternoon heat. Since I’m brutally lactose intolerant, I had a synthetic flavored watermelon ice, which apparently no customers have ordered since 2003, so it had the capacity to remain igloo wall hard even in the fires of hell.
To further escape the heat, we dove into a wonderful bookstore called BookHampton. It reminded me of Endicott Booksellers, a booklovers oasis that I used to frequent on Columbus Avenue in the Eighties and Nineties. I remember getting the homina, homina, hominas when Susan Sontag walked past me, but I held my own when I encountered Camille Paglia at a book signing. Endicott closed in 1995; a few years after a Barnes & Noble Superstore opened nearby that essentially devoured the little guy. <sigh>
After killing about an hour in BookHampton, much of it spent turning the pages of a coffee table book edited by Picasso’s granddaughter called Art Can Only Be Erotic or Make Sure the Kids are Not Around When You Look at This, we next ventured up the street to a hardware store in search of our favorite drain cleaner, Pequa, not that we needed Pequa at this time, but we just wanted to see if they had it in Sag Harbor. We couldn’t find it. Then, Ulla met us again. She asked us what we did during our visit to this picturesque town. We mentioned the ice cream and BookHampton, but left off the part about our drain cleaner hunt, not that that would have surprised her. She was born and raised in Sweden.
Ulla then took us on a scenic ride of the area showing us where the swells live as well as a number of McMansions. I became fixated on a cornfield and a row of birds perched on street lamps. Even though we were barely a hundred miles out of the city, I momentarily thought we had entered the Twilight Zone.
We then went to an outdoor bar where we met our mutual friend, Coco, for a relaxing drink before heading back to Ulla’s house where we were greeted by Charles and their energetic canine comedy team, Tulip and Astro.
Ulla grilled a delicious marinated flank steak for dinner. Coco brought excellent raspberry and chocolate sorbets with cookies for dessert. In between we drank copious amounts of wine over the course of several hours. Electronics wizard Charles has a state-of-the-art sound system where you name any song playing in the iPod in your head and he programs it so it plays. Milton wanted to hear the R&B artist, Bettye LaVette, and Charles was game to accommodate his request, but was stumped over not being able to access her music. As it turns out, we were misspelling her name! Equipped with the correct spelling, Charles found her in his system in a nanosecond. Very cool.
The next day Ulla and Charles asked us if we wanted to go to the beach. The consummate city slickers that neither swim nor drive, our first thought was “no.” We were both perfectly content to play with the dogs and lounge by the pool we would never dare enter.
Not wanting to appear like the lumps we are we said, “Okay, sure.” We piled into Charles’s SUV and headed to the beach. When he stopped at a 7-Eleven store to pick up a newspaper, Milton and I assumed we were at the beach. We looked around and wondered where the sand and ocean were hiding. Milton opened his car door to exit. Ulla patiently shed daylight on the situation, “Guys, we’re at 7-Eleven. This isn’t the beach.”
The beach itself really did look like the beach. The sand was hot as we trekked towards the ocean, both wondering, “This is so much work. Where’s the fun?” My assignment was to carry the bananas.
Both Charles and Ulla are either people with phenomenal inner GPS (something neither Milton nor I have at all, especially if we both can mistake a 7-Eleven for the beach) for they instantly found their very cool friends from Brooklyn, D&G. I was awestruck that people from Brooklyn cannot only swim, but swim in the ocean. Then again, we’re from Manhattan and can barely handle sitting in our bathtubs without water wings.
After much cajoling, Ulla finally managed to get Milton and I to take a walk along the ocean’s edge where, naturally, it is so much cooler. The surf rolling in and out felt great on our feet. Milton was certain that the lifeguards had their eyes on us the entire time and said to each other, “Those two down there; the awkward uncoordinated ones. Code red.”
I was worried that the surf might knock me down. Milton assured me that fear was unfounded. Then, the surf knocked him down in front of a two-year-old girl that was standing in front of him. Milton is still baffled how a pint-sized person that weighs about as much as his right elbow did not fall down. Even Milton’s significant splash did not knock down that little kid. After spitting out a salmon, Milton told me that the Atlantic does indeed taste salty.
Back up on dry land, we were feeling pretty tranquil. Sitting on the beach in the company of good friends staring out at the ocean is quite nice. When we headed back to the car, the sand had even felt reduced from third degree burn level to second.
At Ulla’s house, we sat around the pool, sipped beers with Charles and played with Tulip and Astro. Coco joined us since she was driving us to the train station. Before leaving, we showered in the outdoor shower Charles built (we determined that he and Ulla are capable of doing anything; had they lived in the Gulf, they probably would have solved the oil spill down there in a week). Then, we bid our fond farewells to our wonderful hosts and headed back to Gotham.
On the LIRR heading back to the city, two very polite middle aged women sat across from us speaking Italian the entire time. Every so often words in English would pop up such as “Six Flags” or “Bridgehampton.” I did not have the impression that they were talking about murder at a Six Flags in Bridgehampton. Milton said that sitting across from them made him feel like he was in a foreign film. He added, “I wouldn’t change a single minute of this weekend.” Neither would I.