If last weekend was any indication we’re going to have to set some ground rules here for the summer. The Montauk Music Festival brought a large crowd to the hamlet and it reminded me of summers past and the things that people do that I don’t like.
Who the hell am I to judge? Well, after 40 years of living out here in Montauk I consider myself a local. I’m not a native like my husband and three children, but I also don’t have the blue eyes they all have, so does that not make me local? Do I not bleed salt water? After reporting for this newspaper for over 15 years, I believe I am local enough to write this list for our summer visitors.
Living on the East End year round should entitle us to a bit of seniority when it comes to behavior we frown upon. And while the gale winds blow outside and a fire burns in the woodstove, it also gives us a lot of time to think about things that people do that irk us.
Rule Number 1: You do not need to stop at every pedestrian crosswalk if there are no pedestrians in sight. For some odd reason, vehicles, mostly those with out-of-state plates, are stopping at every street corner rather than yielding like the signs say to do.
Now to my fellow locals, even those with brown eyes like me, you know exactly which out-of-state plates I write of. But since there is a lot of mafia in the Garden State I cannot criticize it for fear of getting whacked. And I don’t want to get whacked right before summer starts, as it’s one of my favorite seasons.
Rule Number 2: At the beach, do not plant your blanket or chairs or sun tent or fighting toddlers, or crying babies, or testosterone-fueled adolescents right next to us. If only for a day, this is your chance to own a prime piece of beachfront real estate in the Hamptons, so why, why, why would you want to be so close to your neighbors? And if you’re blasting music (I was going to write your boom box but that’s just showing my age), make sure you grab a corner of the beach far away from those of us who go to the beach to relax, unwind, and, quite frankly, get away from tourists and the noise of a seaside tourist town.
And don’t even think about throwing a boccie ball over our heads or flying a kite! Once, while I was sitting with my children on the beach at Ditch, a guy with a heavy French accent came down to show off his kite-flying skills, which it turned out weren’t very good. The kite, a big one, kept swooping down upon the heads of beachgoers, none of whom were looking to get a gash on the forehead.
Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and told him he was endangering my children and that he should move farther down the beach where there were no people. The rest of the beach applauded me. Okay, maybe I used stronger wording than that and threw a couple of cuss words in there, but he did move. Actually, I think I scared the hell out of him.
Rule Number 3: If you are in a restaurant and the hostess says there will be a 20-minute wait, go have a drink. Walk away from the hostess stand. Lingering there while you wait, looking too eager for your table, will only annoy the hostess and not get you that table any earlier. The hostess will find you when your table is ready because that’s how she makes her money. They want to move you in and out to accommodate the next table.
Oh, and if you’re done dining and the dessert plates and coffee cups are cleared and you notice a line of people waiting for your table, please relinquish it. Restaurants and their employees need the turnover to make the money that allows them to enjoy the sound of those gale-force winds blowing through the bare-limbed trees while they snuggle down for the winter with a fire burning in the woodstove and a stack of novels nearby. Ah winter, you swept through too quickly this year.
Rule Number 4: Do not throw your cigarette butts in our streets or on our beaches and sidewalks. As I was enjoying some good outdoor music over the weekend, I watched in horror as several visitors dropped lit cigarettes on the ground before entering an establishment — even though it’s hard to miss those large, weird-looking cigarette extinguishers outside each place. I watched a young woman who should know better (what with all this talk about saving the planet) chuck a lit cigarette into the street on Montauk Highway. Not a good move, honey.
Rule Number 5: This one pertains to serious bike riders. I didn’t want to include this in the list because I wrote of it once before and got some flack. But the bike riders in their little tight shorts and colorful shirts who rode four abreast last weekend on two busy Montauk arteries while cars backed up behind them set me off again.
Hey guys, we’re not all on vacation. And though the view from behind (literally) was a fine one, those of us who live and work here are usually in a rush and cannot afford the time to join your little bikers’ clique. Get off the road! That’s what the shoulder is for, bike riders, joggers, and moped riders.
Rule Number 6: Do not talk on your cellphone while waiting in a sandwich line. We do not need to hear your conversation or what Johnny said to Isabella, who told Sophia, who told Addison, who told Madison, who told Jackson, who picked a fight in the bathroom with Jacob.
We do not need to know who’s bringing the clams for dinner, or picking up the cheese and beer. We do not need to know much other than the fact that you like our little area and promise to respect it. Now go out there and have some fun. Just behave, and remember — somebody’s watching you.
Janis Hewitt is a senior writer for The Star.