There is a game played out every summer out here, Us against Them. You all know what I mean. Some locals resent the summer visitors and I get that. They clog up the already clogged up roads and all the good restaurants are all booked up on weekend nights. There’s no place to park. A lot of the visitors are short-tempered, bossy, and nasty. They annoy us even more than we annoy each other.
On the other hand, our little town wouldn’t survive without their money.
The locals take grim satisfaction on holiday weekends when the weather is bad. That’s because we know a lot of people come out for the sun and beaches and have nothing to do when it rains. Let’s face it, if you brave the traffic to come all the way out here and end up eating a soggy hot dog in your dank summer rental, you lost.
But if you are among the new breed of nouveau riche and you have a couple tricks (or should I say tips) up your sleeve, life is sweet. One phone call to your favorite maître’d and you and your loved ones have the premier seat at the best restaurant in town, with three waiters fawning all over you and complimentary Shirley Temples for your little obnoxious snot-nosed kids who screech painfully loud and run around the dining room coughing and spraying germs all over. Meanwhile, locals are still waiting outside after being promised the next available table that never comes.
The sun finally comes out and you head for the beach. No, there are no parking spaces — you already knew that. You also know at least one of these pushy city Alphas will park without the requisite beach sticker, because they don’t realize how precious these things are. So, you drop a dime on the Land Rover and wait five minutes until the tow truck comes. You pull right in as the tow truck backs out.
Here’s one the locals love. Go to Main Street and keep circling until you finally get a parking space. This takes a while because hundreds of people are doing the same thing, circling to find a spot so they can go buy charcoal, coconut suntan lotion, and pink flip flops.
Once you pull in, turn around and drape your arm around the seat and look out the back window. When you see Mr. Alpha in his black Land Rover coming, place the car in reverse. The Alpha will stop to wait for you to pull out. Don’t. Eventually he’ll jump out of the Land Rover, slam the door, storm towards you, and angrily knock on your car window. “Are you pulling out or what?” he yells. “No, I’m not,” you say.
Let’s tell it like it is. There are only three things to do around here at night: drink, drink, or go to the movies. During the summer, hundreds of people are bearing down on the theater because it’s a rainy cold night and they can’t get into the restaurant. You wait online for an hour and when you get to the head of the line, four of the five movies in the multiplex, like the Avengers and Ocean’s Eight are sold out.
The only movie left is Mrs. O’Reilly’s Left Foot starring Emma Thompson as a blind woman who reads The Brothers Karamazov with her big toe — in English and Russian. Note: Best take a bottle of vodka in with you. I laughed, I cried as I desperately waited for the clock to move.
Meanwhile, our friends from the city used their phone apps to buy tickets to all the future Oscar winners that will be playing out here all summer.
Here’s our little revenge: all our stores carry the de rigueur Hamptons summer wear. But not really. None of us would ever get caught wearing any of this stuff, but the tourists love it to death. For example, straw hats actually attract flies. It’s like wearing a miniature horse on your head. If you want to keep the sun out of your eyes, here’s a tip: stay out of the sun.
Terrycloth shirts: my god, man, this isn’t the Yonkers Bath House. Take those things off; it scares the kids.
Flip flops: regular readers know how I feel about these peculiar things, made all the more ridiculous because they are invariably either pink, orange, or lime green. If God wanted two of our toes to do the work of five, he would have made us ducks.
What’s that smell? You guessed it — the coconut suntan lotion. Does this concoction prevent sunburn? Of course not. But sharks won’t come within 20 miles of it. And that’s a win-win for all of us.
Rick Murphy is a six-time winner of the New York Press Association Best Column award as well as the winner of first place awards from the National Newspaper Association and the Suburban Newspaper Association of America and a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee.