Relay: Ask for the Bluefish

I love the flock of seasonal visitors each year because it allows me to indulge my favorite pastime, people-watching

    Jimmy Fallon of “The Tonight Show” got up on the stage at the Montauket on Saturday night to sing “Roadhouse Blues” by the Doors with the Blue Collar Band. It was a great start to the season. And if it’s any indication of how the summer’s going to be, we’re going to have, according to Jimmy, a good time!

    I love the flock of seasonal visitors each year because it allows me to indulge my favorite pastime, people-watching. It’s quite the scene. But we do have standards, and women in spike heels and men in brand-new shorts with dolphins or sailboats on them traipsing the beach through a bunch of bleached-out, rugged surfers just doesn’t cut it.

    We’re wiseguys in Montauk, and when I say we, I mean those of us who really live here year round and put in our time during the winter months, when barely a tourist can be seen. But we’re also smart and know that visitors are necessary to our economy, so we don’t often cross the line into rudeness, but when we do it’s the ault of those who act like a touron, a phrase we use to describe a tourist who acts like a moron. If you do, you’ll find we’re really good at rolling our eyes, a stupid local trick that we’ve had plenty of reasons to perfect over the years.

    Some of our visitors, especially foreigners, think we all dress like the celebrities they see in American magazines. No, we don’t show heavy cleavage during the day, or even the night. And if we walked around with the tousled and messy hair that’s in fashion right now, we’d be told, as I have been, to go home and brush our hair.

    “What’s up with the do?” a local complete stranger asked me one day. It was a stinging barb that made me realize early on what these locals are capable of.

    The only accessories we carry are our dogs, and they’re usually big and burly, not quivering in our handbags. You can leave the new “It” bag at home; we’re not impressed that you spent almost $4,000 on a purse. In fact, most of us, and I’ve learned this firsthand, wouldn’t even recognize a designer’s logo. If you happen to find yourself in some weird situation, say, on a sinking boat, we’re more likely to save our dogs than your designer purse.

    Can you imagine the looks we’d get if we went to the I.G.A. wearing high heels and head-to-toe designer garb in the dead of winter when some of us are counting change from our wallets to pay for our food? A pricey designer item would just look foolish.

    The only scent we wear in summer is sunscreen. Some of us leave a waft of eau de dead fish in our wake, and that red blotch on our pant leg is probably fish blood, not a jean designer’s carefully distressed design. Perfume attracts bugs, but so does the smell of dead fish, so you’re on your own figuring that out.

    We’re a rugged bunch. We have to be to survive the harsh, cold winters. Oh, and that’s another thing, we command respect in our little hamlet. Those of us who make it through are the ones who make the rules, and, trust me, if you break them, we will get you and level fines until you conform. It’s not fun spending a beautiful summer day in court. And we’re never wrong, so you will pay.

    Sometimes you can buy fish off a local boat at the docks, but you have to dress accordingly. That is, in T-shirts and naturally distressed jeans, although cleavage might help you get the best price, so maybe I’m wrong on that. Our shrimp is not fresh because it’s not in our waters, so don’t ask dumb questions in restaurants. Ask for the bluefish, it’s always good and there’s always plenty of fresh bluefish.

    And if we use plastic utensils, use the plastic utensils, otherwise we’ll talk about you and you don’t want to ruin a beautiful summer day with a loud ringing in your ears or an eye roll tossed your way.

    We want our visitors to have a good time but we also practice beach etiquette. When we’re sitting in a secluded spot on the beach, it’s because we have a little time off from our jobs of feeding and entertaining you and are seeking quiet. Please don’t sit so close to us, blasting your music or throwing a boccie ball over our heads. It’s a wide of span of beach on the South Fork, and we’re boring. So find another spot, and hey, you might just find yourself sitting next to Jimmy Fallon.


    Janis Hewitt is a senior writer for The Star.