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Friday, October 9, 2015



     I've lived in Westchester County all my life, and I've never taken a plane to go on vacation between the months of June and September. There's no need to- the summer is when the Northeast blossoms with activity. Somers is within striking distance of the Jersey Shore, Cape Cod and the beaches of Maine. And then there's The Hamptons. I've never been to The Hamptons by myself, because I'm afraid that somebody on a neighborhood watch patrol would take one look at me and know that I had no business being there. So I wait until I'm invited to someone's home, and if we go out they pretend I'm the recipient of a charity fundraiser.

     I usually spend the entire time thinking that everyone I see is a celebrity. "Isn't that Robert De Niro?" I ask my friends as we are shopping for snacks at the deli. Five eyes are peering at the poor guy from behind a bag of potato chips (one of my friends is only halfway interested). "Nah, De Niro has a big ugly beauty-mark on his cheek- that one looks like a pimple," my friend insists. "And he has a tattoo on his calf I think," one-eye offers. I'll settle it once and for all. "Excuse me, sir, can you lift up your pants leg? And also, is that a pimple or an ugly beauty-mark on your cheek?" Turns out it wasn't him.

     Every summer we take a trip out to Eastern Long Island to visit with some High School friends. They have a house that straddles the line of propriety perfectly, but you don't have to go too far to experience palatial gaudiness, and if your property has a Chinese opera theater on it, and you don't live in China, you've crossed the line. The Hamptons is like a whole different world, where different rules apply, and people just travel from restaurant to restaurant, ordering cocktails until a major tragedy befalls them, like they run out of ice and the store is closed.

     The only thing that seems to get people excited is feuding with their neighbors. Everyone out there has a beef with the property next door: The "new money" people resent the "old money" people, the "old money" people disdain the "new money" people, and everyone hates the "no money" people. If you buy a house in The Hamptons, chances are good that your neighbors are going to hate your noise, hate your landscaping, hate your dust, hate your friends, hate your house and eventually hate you. And you seem like a nice enough person, except for that landscaping.

      Madonna bought this horse meadow, and all the neighbors are up in arms because she pulled some fancy footwork and had it assessed as a farm or something, so she and her horse would pay less taxes. The townspeople are more angry that they didn't think of it themselves, and of course they started calling her "Material Girl," and they probably called her horse "Material Horse."

     It's no surprise that everyone seems nuts out there, if you think about it. When you're on the L.I.E., crawling along, and a slug passes you on the side of the road, you say to yourself, "You'd have to be CRAZY to go through this every weekend!"

     And if people aren't fighting with their neighbors, they have an active feud going with at least one or more animal species invading their property. Even when the town mandates that hedges should be maintained at a certain height, deer believe that they should be lower, and set out to immediately remedy the situation. Do they even realize that they are dining in such an exclusive area? 
"Dahhhhling, DO be a deer and hand me that rhododendron branch, puhleeze...." My friends have these little burrow hills all over their lawn, so they got an animal informant to find out who the culprit was. After they hired this mole, the problem got worse, go figure.

     By the end of the weekend I've had enough. I'd like to eat something that DOESN'T have any chipotle or dill sauce. Or somebody's kid that isn't named Hunter or Parker.

     And every road sign in The Hamptons says "Old Sag This," and "Old Sag That." Thanks for the reminder. When I get to Gray Wrinkly Osteoporosis Road I turn back onto 27 and go home. And on the way, mired in two hours of traffic, I have some choice words about Madonna, her landscaping, and the horse she rode in on.

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