Though normally I try not to say anything if I can’t say anything nice, there are just a few things I have to get off my chest. Because here it is August and this summer, before it was even July, I couldn’t take any more. My eyes hurt from rolling, and my new seasonal utterance, “Puh-leeze,” was already overused.
Maybe it’s because I’m subject to the seasonal barrage of entreaties from P.R. lackeys desperately trying to get attention for their clients, touting the next great Hamptons this or that.
Or maybe it’s because, as a resident here for over 30 years (do I really have to also say ‘year-round,’ or can it just be assumed that living somewhere means you live there, all or almost all the time?), I am pretty tired of having my life, and the lives of my friends and colleagues and associates, diminished in the eyes of visitors who think somehow that because we live “in the country” our lives are not as interesting/fulfilling/glamorous or fill-in-the-adjective as theirs.
Guess what? Did you ever think you might be the sadly shortchanged ones? Or that there might be a deep and satisfying and comprehensive world out here, of which you perceive only a part?
How many times do I have to endure the fading interest of a conversation partner, once they find out I live here (heavens!)? Or the mincing questions, “You mean all year?” Or “What’s it like?”
Well, it’s like living somewhere. I mean, like, in a community.
Which leads me to the list.
1. Geography and nomenclature. I don’t live “in the country” or “at Hamptons” or in “a Hampton.” I guess you could call this “out east,” but that presumes a starting point. Maybe you live “over west.” I’ve heard it called “up west” or “UpIsland.” But all of those assume one or the other geographic supremacy, a concept I shun.
2. Don’t presume. Get to know this place, and your place as a visitor, part-time resident, or interloper. Don’t be an interloper. Listen, think, soak it in. Do real things and learn real things. Don’t presume. Try to act with a little sensitivity. This place is like it is; don’t barrel in and override it. Enjoy. We live here. It’s a real place, with a real flavor and heartbeat.
3. Note: While there is hardly anyone that I interact with who would ask me the inane question “which Hampton are you from?” woe to the clueless jabberer who does.
4. Don’t dub yourself — anything. Especially when it starts with “The Hamptons,” or requires a capitalized noun. That just marks you as a yahoo here to play in the great Hamptons playground, and not someone who’s interested at all in learning what this place is like.
5. Food is food. I like good food as much as anyone — healthy or decadent. But blasting social media with every detail of your intake is boring. I don’t want to spend my time looking at pictures of your plate, or read your sappy little posts about the extraordinary, special, amazing, fresh and better-than-yours meals you make using hand-raised, sung-to, and massaged vegetables that are amazing.
Guess what? People have been raising vegetables forever. Just because you got out of the city and discovered a field of growing things doesn’t make your discovery interesting to me. I get it. You eat. You like food. You find it amazing that you can buy fresh eggs, or pick your own strawberries. Get over it. Or take these common pleasures in quietly, without constantly trumpeting about them.
Key word, again: quietly. Deeply. Like a human being with a soul. Take all of the quiet pleasures in quietly. Nobody’s saying you can’t come out here and love the sun and the wind and the fresh vegetables. But the ability to tweet or post or brag about it is not what makes it a valuable experience.
6. If you’re a stockbroker, you’re not a farmer. Don’t dub yourself “Farmer Whoever.” That’s bullshit. If you want to change your life, do it. And derive your satisfaction from the changes you make, not from the “Look-at-me, look-at-me, look-at-me!” factor.
Maybe there’s a 6(a) here: From where I sit, there’s a whole lot of “Look-at-me, look-at-me, look-at-me!” behavior. Ask yourself, am I doing this/wearing this/buying this/going here for any reason other than to see or be seen?
It’s here I make my plea: try not to be shallow. There are important things in the world, and the possibility of real, heartful, spiritual rewards.
Ask yourself, if I was doing this/saying this/acting this way anywhere but the “Hamptons,” would I seem foolish?
7. You don’t need knee-high galoshes to stride from your Range Rover into the deli, just because it’s raining. Those kinds of boots are for mucking out the barn. So if you’re not slogging through horseshit, it’s just for show. This is a town, not a stage.
8. And speaking of . . . yes, this is a real town. We live here. We’re not just extras in the background of your summertime-fun movie. In fact, we are real. Most of us don’t posture.
We’re concerned with substantive things — with our real-world concerns, families, friends, food we feel the need to eat and enjoy with loved ones, but not necessarily to brag about. Making a living, maybe having some fun if we can fit it around the shenanigans of you folks parading about the “Hamptons.”
By the way, I like summer. And all this said, I don’t really believe in prescribing to others, or making demands. I try not to judge — honest. And I’m not really down on everyone who’s here. The more cosmopolitan, the better, I say. But it sure feels good to rant a minute. Maybe I’ll be more patient for it during this very trying month.
Joanne Pilgrim, an associate editor at The Star, imagines a life one day in an area without East Hampton’s wild seasonal mood swings, but can thrill to the ride — most of the time — while she’s here.