I’m with the girls getting gas for my impractical off road man toy and thinking about how I’m going to navigate the fresh bagel line at Goldberg’s next door. It’s like walking on to the floor of the stock exchange during a bull run, where fresh nova and scallion cream cheese are on par with commodities like diamonds, plutonium or Yankee tickets. I can see already that the parking lot is looking like a gladiator double header at the Coliseum and I fear a confrontation with a 60 year old Soul Cycle devotee that might make me look bad in front of the children. I start to think about alternatives, like some runny 15 dollar eggs at the Poxabogue golf course greasy spoon or a $8 muffin at Pierre’s overpriced grab and go on Sag Main Rd. With the turmoil of breakfast choices coming to head, I decide to employ the coping techniques I learned from my online course at the School of Practical Philosophy. Relaxing my body completely, save the squeezing of the pump handle, I start a meditation that involves deep breathing, a special mantra and clearing of the mind. In this neutral space I hope to shoo off the chaos of choice and let the right decision just rise to the top. As my breath rises and falls, my inner voice starts to quite. Gone are thoughts like, “Crap, that’s getting to be a very big number on the pump” or “I wonder if I have the right parking permit for the Georgica Beach lot?”.
All of the sudden I’m bitch slapped out of bliss by a large crash. I open my eyes and turn around to see that a Mexican housekeeper has rammed the front of her employer’s new Escalade into the iron guard rail protecting the pump. She’s managed to smash an impressive section of the front right bummer, including the headlights. Glass and pieces of pre-molded body parts are lying everywhere on the pavement. The SUV is now one with the rail as my mind was one with the universe only moments ago. I can see her up in the cockpit in a state of shock as her fragile work status passes before her eyes. She looks like a child barely peering over the dash, not like the usual burly, under-employed Uber divers who more commonly captain these tankers. She starts trying to inch forward, which only makes the grind-fest continue. I instinctively hold up both hands, palms out, signifying the international signal for stop. She takes this as the international sign for “back up” and proceeds to rip the entire front bummer off the vehicle. Now free, the neutered truck sits idling, holding only 60% of the resale value it held only moments ago. I walk over and give her a sympathetic pat on the shoulder as she climbs down bewildered to inspect the damage. She speaks no English but words are a redundancy at this point. She knows the score and her eyes tell a woeful story of how the seemingly infinite promise of the American dream can go sideways with one innocent fender bender. We load the bumper into the back seat and she drives off to face the music, like a dead nanny walking on the fumes of gas she has left in the tank. Smart money has her on the 12:45 LIRR slow train back to the city.
My blog is by no means a political one but If anyone out there is still thinking about voting Trump to make America great again, please consider that many immigrants contend with far greater hurdles than the Great Wall of Donald to eek out a little bit of dignity in the land of the free.
I finally got a Citibike pass and now the urban landscape is rolling past me at average speeds of 10-20 MPH. It’s not be like chasing the peloton in Tour de France but for me it’s as competitive because I’m riding for my life. I’m a wanted man, doing my best to elude the endless hazards that stock me on the mean streets of lower Manhattan. Here’s my typical ride to work. First, I grab my trusty steed from a seemingly endless sea of blue homogenous bi-peds, branded to the hilt with Citibank logo’s. Then I start my cross town odyssey on a slightly uphill grade baring east on Murray St. This part of the journey is pleasant enough and I often see moms I recognize from my Soul Cycle spin class nodding with approval as I demonstrate the art of riding a bike that actually goes somewhere. This congenial setting of pediatric practices and nail salons quickly gives way to a more hostel environment of falafel shops and cheap knockoff luggage stands, as a make my first turn on to Church St. The bike lane is now gone and a pack of Afghani cabbies appear out of nowhere, closing in fast behind me. What first felt like a Sunday ride with Mary Popins suddenly turns into running with the bulls in Spain. I use the biggest of the three pathetic gears and pedal like a mad man to reach my right turn on Walker St. At this point I’m clutching the bike handles like a condemned man’s final grasp of the arms of the electric chair. I take my first breath in eight blocks and I crave a cigarette even though I don’t smoke. The relief is short lived as I cross Broadway and get my first look at the most dead defying territory a Citibike rider can navigate….Chinatown. Chinatown, land of bad drivers and slippery garage that lines the streets like a Viet Nam mine field. A half-eaten-flattened Peking duck on the right, a broken crate of bok choy on the left and dozens of pedestrians moving fast across the approaching intersection in no predicable pattern. I decide to ride aggressively though the chaos and emerge on Centre St. with only a dark smudge on my pant leg where I brushed a dirty old van dropping off used restaurant equipment. Now it’s a simply couple blocks to the return stalls by my office on Grand and I have 2 minutes to spare before my first meeting. I feel victorious until I see that all the slots are full. I consult the iphone app that tells me there are two available spots on Spring. By the time I get there one is taken and the other is wrapped up with crime scene tape. Finally, I’m sitting in my meeting with the blue pedal pig leaning against the conference room wall. Lugging it up three flights gave me a groin pull. In the rough and tumble tech start up world, this is looked on as a failure to launch.
It’s early-morning and I’m floating on a surfboard in the middle of a fog bank. I can no longer see the shore or the opulent beach houses beyond the dunes. I was using a white post modern one as a visual marker but the soup has thickened and now I’m completely decoupled from terra firma. It’s a weird feeling. I could be drifting down to Fire Island for all I know but I don’t hear any Lady GaGa remixes coming from the beach so I think I’m ok. Waves come in from nowhere like phantoms and quickly disappear. I think for a surfer this is pretty close to what heaven or hell looks like, plus or minus a bikini clad girl to watch your every surf move from the beach. After catching a few I start to think about Shark Week on Discovery Channel and the fact that Jaws was set in Long Island somewhere. There’s not a breath of wind and the water is grey and murky. I start to imagine things from a shark’s perspective, looking up at a big silhouetted oval with four bit-sized protrusions flailing around. I can’t get back to land quick enough. This begins what will become a decathlon of activities at constitutes Memorial Day weekend and the commencement of summer in the Hamptons . I get back to the house and Thing 1 and Thing 2 are slathered up with SPF 3,000 and wearing hats that could be easily turned upside down to serve as nice planters for a hibiscus tree. They’re raring to go. Thing 2 is holding a pail and shovel and obviously looking to do major landscaping at the high tide line. I peel off my wetsuit, which requires a lot of patience, persistence and the ability to dislocate several key joints at will. Before I know it we’re back at the beach. I spent the prior weekend picking the perfect chairs for this environment. I settled on “The Big Kahuna” for two reasons. One, it has holders for a cell phone, a beer and a news paper. Two, it can hold up to 250 lbs of displaced weight to accommodate even the most rotund clam bake invitee. The kids begin to collect lots of rocks. We have roughly 5 thousand of them in the garage and we’ve only been coming out for a month of weekends. Maybe we can build a replica of the Berlin Wall. It could go along highway 27 which is the mythical divider used by real estate agents to garner up to 30% more in perceptual home value. It’s the first question anybody will ask you when you say you have a house in the Hampton’s. “Is it north or south?” There’s qualifying shorthand for everything out here, even down to beach chairs. “Tommy Bahama or The Big Kahuna?” The Big Kahuna far superior but I digress.
The fog has burned off and the surf still looks pretty good, so I slither back into my damp wetsuit and head out again. Ten minutes later I glance back at the shore. Thing 1 and 2 and the nanny I brought along for coverage are frantically waving brightly colored Ralph Lauren beach towels in the air. I conclude they’ve seen a fin and for the second time in one day I get spooked from the water. They meet me at the shore line. Not a shark but something equally as dire. Apparently I’ve lost track of time and now only have ten minutes to get to the Soul Cycle spin class my wife booked for us in Bridge Hampton. My phone has been vibrating one arm off the Big Kahuna with my wife’s frantic calls because getting a bike at this high profile flash mob is harder to score than court side at a Nicks game. I’m now barreling down one of many hedge lined streets like an idiot in my maroon Chevy Cruze. This vehicle is not even on the charts when rating one’s monetary standing out here but it’s light and quick and gives me a jump on larger imported SUV’s at intersections. The class is starting in 2 minutes and once again I find myself on the wrong side of highway 27. I commit about 4 moving violations and finally skid to a stop inside the gravel parking lot. Hooray! I’m just in time to saddle up and prepare to go nowhere on a stationary bike. I think there’s a metaphor in there somewhere. The barn it’s held in is as hot as a native american sweat lodge and perfectly quaffed socialites are already starting to melt like those Germans in Raiders of the Lost Arch. We’re on the back row, which in the high profile fitness world is like being north of highway 27. I’m ok with it because my wife and I are playing grab ass and trying to knock each other off the beat. We finish the class, mingle a bit and on the way home pass a house that has a pee stained mattress out front with a sign on it that says “Free”. This aberration really puts the whole weekend into perspective for me. I pull up close and ask my wife to snap a photo. I’m overwhelmed by the honestly and full disclosure. It’s a rare quality to find in a place where holding your cards close is at a premium. It’s like, “Hey, this mattress has a big, ugly, circular pee stain on it. We’re not trying to hide it. If you need a free bed to sleep in and don’t think you’ll have nightmares about R. Kelly peeing on you, then this is the bed for you!” The long weekend comes to a close with a quick dash to the beach for our last “rock run”. I’m now thinking the Great Wall of China.