Journey to the Center of the Hamtons: Part II

The next day I wake up well-rested, but I can’t say the same for my flatmates; the cabin is small, and we’re all packed in like sardines, with Alanna and Janet on one bed, and Ajai on the floor, using the broken air mattress as a blanket. I’m on the other bed, and apparently snored well through the night, so loudly that Janet got up and slept in the car. I feel bad, but only for a minute, because my hangover seems penance enough. We stumble outside and catch our neighbors–Alanna’s friend JJ and her boyfriend Phil—and walk across the street to a restaurant with an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet. It’s a steal at $19.00 per person (note: not a steal). Over semi-palatable, overpriced eggs we slowly come back to the land of the living. Soon we’re joined by Phil’s friend Chris, who seems to have had a night like ours, or at least one that produced as big of a headache. Janet immediately takes a shine to Chris. A twinge of jealousy shivers through me, and I try to bury it by telling myself that there should be plenty of weird stuff to get into at the party we’re going to later, and that some of it may involve beautiful girls who have decided on careers as party guests.

It’s now been over a week since I attended this little soiree, and I’m still not quite sure about the point of the festivity. JJ works for the company that is throwing the party, and I suppose it’s meant to promote some brands, but there seems to be precious little of that going on when we arrive at a pre-fab mansion backing up to some rolling hills. There’s a Lamborghini parked in the driveway, and I wonder aloud if it actually belongs to a guest, or if it’s been planted by the promoters. Nobody seems to have an answer, but several people know that the house we’re walking into costs $13 million. For some reason, this figure is repeated to me several times throughout the evening, by several different people, most of whom I don’t know.

The party is sparsely attended when we arrive. The outside deck has a huge, multi-tiered layout, with steps leading down to the pool and bar, and another set of steps leading up to food and another bar. There’s also a dreadlocked Venezuelan DJ splitting his time between warming up the small crowd milling around the pool and posing with an unplugged Gibson SG. We head down to the bar and collect our free drinks. I don’t have any bills smaller than a ten to tip with, but figure it’s worth the investment. My instincts are correct: the screwdriver the bartender/male model hands me tastes like jet fuel. Hopefully I’ll be able to ride these stiff drinks all the way into oblivion and beyond.

Ajai and I admire the view as we sip our drinks and wonder about the brutal excess of it all. There are now maybe five or six packs of guests milling around, but none of them are mingling. Most are taking pictures of each other with their smartphones. This is the new party paradigm: we don’t celebrate for a reason, celebration is our reason. The end all be all of the free booze and the blandly attractive people swathed in designer clothes remains elusive, as the party fills up. I’ve been told that working girls mingle at these parties, and I’m trying to spot one and/or get up the courage to talk codshit to them, but it never happens. A brunette does take notice of my Mole People t-shirt as I leave the bar for the fifth time, and we strike up a conversation that ends with me getting a number and feeling a little bit better about myself. If the prying eyes of the party are wondering who this sloppy, bearded giant is and who let him in, maybe they also saw me successfully chat up a flight attendant who exclusively works on private jets.

A while later I’m talking with Phil and Alanna, all of us very drunk, all of us pretending that we’re somehow above all of this packaged debauchery but making no moves to distance ourselves from it. I mock a group of blondes congregated at the steps, comparing their existence to being trapped in an Instagram feed, moments before I take a self-shot of our group and post it to Instagram. We’ve reached irony critical mass, folks. Please strap in your Prada bags and make sure your comped drinks are at their upright and drained positions. Chris appears and silently beckons to join him for a quick joint, because the situation demands it. After that, Ajai decides to strip down to his boxers and jump into the pool. I pray to the gods of the Hamptons that others will follow suit, but no one does, although nobody seems particularly perturbed either. One of the photographers milling through the sea of guests follows Ajai’s movements through the water, prowling along the edge of the pool, snapping shot after shot.

The rest of the evening passes in a blur. The crowd at the bar gets longer. I try to work up my courage to go talk to some tall blondes, but fail. The girl whose number I got begins dancing (twerking?) next to the DJ booth as the tunes get more aggressive, and more or less shows everyone at the party her vagina (to roars of approval). The DJ puts on the aforementioned Gibson SG and wanders around the pool, feeding back and then pretending to play it while a prerecorded loop booms over the sound system and the guests feign indifference. I watch the whole thing, wondering who any of these people are, and why I’m here. The obvious answer is 1)rich party kids who have grown into rich party adults and 2)to have fun. I’m definitely having fun, but it feels as though it’s originating from some dark, cynical place. Are we all fiddling as Rome burns? Does this secretly delight me? Am I just way too fucked up? The answer to at least one of these questions is obvious.

We leave the party and shove some expensive bar food in our face with all the gusto of people who have been pounding free vodka all night. A strange division pops up in our group, and I have the feeling that Alanna has been forced to sit with “her drunk friends” while the others silently judge us from across a partition, but this could just be the marijuana talking. At this point, I’m too intoxicated and inside my own head to care. Chris drives us all back to the cottages, but we stop and get an 18 pack of beer on the way, most of which Ajai and I consume that night, while the rest of the group goes out to a packed bar full of 19-year-olds (again).

In the morning, I wake up on the ground feeling like I haven’t slept all. The group shuffles over to a cheap Deli for egg sandwiches and coffee, and I make an executive decision to join Ajai on the next train back to NYC. Per Alanna’s prediction, it’s packed with hordes of city-dwellers who all had the same idea. So packed that Ajai and I get separated and I have to sit on the steps, moving aside every fifteen minutes or so when another douchebag in red pants decides he needs to get by to get into the car with empty seats that doesn’t exist. I make my connection 2.5 hours later, and I’ve never been happier to sit on a padded chair. When I finally get back to Brooklyn, I plug my phone back in, and see the flight attendant has sent me pictures of the two of us, snapped by the same photographer who chronicled Ajai’s sojurn into the pool. I try to make tentative plans to hang out in the city (she’s not going back to Miami for a few days), but eventually give up and collapse into bed, early, at 9 or 10pm.

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Journey to the Center of the Hamptons: Part I

After a little over 48 hours in the Hamptons, I find it necessary to chronicle my experiences there. Not because anything of note happened, but rather to remind myself that I’m good at something besides attending parties. This seems to be the default setting of the average Hamptons resident (temporary or otherwise): they are built for maximum celebration efficiency, swathed from head to toe in a style that slingshots between effortlessly casual and remarkably gaudy. Their crimson “Go to Hell” pants and $900 clutches are a perfect reflection of the detached hedonism these people apparently live for. The clothes say “I’m better than you without even trying. Not that I give a shit.”

Ajai and I arrived in East Hampton after a 2.5 hour long and largely uneventful train ride. The first moments in this playground for over-moneyed late adolescents were like the calm before the storm: I had to attend my fantasy football draft via iPhone, and my companions (it was Alanna who had invited Ajai and I to join her friend Janet for the weekend) shuffled off to knock back a few drinks while they waited for me. Then we had lobster rolls and bummed around our rented cottage (a humble one-room apartment that only made the rest of the area’s puke-stained opulence stand out in even starker contrast) before hitting the town with no particular plan in mind.

We wound up at The Point, a run-of-the-mill sports bar that was packed with gigantic television screens and an inexplicable amount of UGA fans. They hooted and hollered and stamped their feet as we tried to push through the seething mass of on-the-sleeve-sexuality that filled the air with a thin edge of violence. I swivel-necked again and again, not used to seeing so many young and beautiful women in one place at one time. Really, it felt like I had been transported back to the collegiate bars I stopped going to in Austin when it became apparent that I didn’t enjoy myself at those places and nobody would miss me. As the crowd of suspiciously fresh-faced youngsters got drunker, I began to feel more and more self-conscious, and more and more paranoid that most of the people in the bar were mentally placing me in the same category as the 38-year-old who would stare at girls and then hover approximately 2-3 feet away until they got creeped out and moved. I compensated by drinking more.

We went to a different bar, this one set back in the woods and considerably more restrained. It came with a price, though: two shots of bottom-shelf, rotgut whiskey ran Ajai $24.00. Two 12oz yellow-bellies knocked me back $12.00. Right then and there we decided it would be our last drink. As we sank further into intoxication, we began to bemoan our lack of illicit substances, and then I decided to go ask one of the valet parkers if they knew where we could get any. The fellow at the front of the drive was notably cautious, but as my questions wore on, he seemed to get more and more paranoid, which was odd considering he had made it abundantly clear that he was, in fact, holding. At one point he asked me point blank if I was a cop, and I said no, thinking my obvious whiskey-breath was enough to give me away. We ended up not buying anything, partially because it seemed like a bad idea and mostly because Janet seemed violently opposed to the idea. I let it drop, and suggested that we hit the beach, since it was getting late-ish and we had no plans to go and get finger-blasted on the balcony of Sloppy Tuna (an actual, real establishment in Montauk. How any woman could allow herself to be picked up at a bar with a name that doubles as a term for loose vagina is beyond me).

Janet drove us out to the easternmost point of Long Island, and it only took me a nanosecond to pop open a beer (I had a backpack full of Pacifico in the trunk that made me feel nostalgic), roll up my pant legs, and walk into the surf. It was beginning to storm somewhere out on the sea, and through the cracks in the clouds and the space between the stars we could see flashes of lightning, drowned in the violent surge of waves crashing on the shore. I stumbled away from our group, as they befriended some like-minded souls who had a bonfire going, and walked further into the water, breathing in the salt air and trying to empty my head of anything that didn’t relate to here and now. I wished I had the balls to throw my phone into the ocean, but instead I texted a few people with varying degrees of regret, eventually grounding myself from electronics long enough to scale a large lifeguard tower and finish my beer in the biting wind as I watched the lightning flash in the distance.