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.

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