Sometimes it’s nice to be a tourist in Montauk. This time of year I call it “going to town.” It’s something you need to mentally prepare yourself for. If I want to run into people I know, I’ll hit up a beach that’s not on the ocean or lurk around the harbor. Yesterday I had a wicked hangover, which is a good part of the reason this column was sent in late. Craving as little physical interaction as possible, I parked my car next to The Born Free Hotel and walked straight into tourist land.
It should be noted that the beach gets narrower every year, so the density of people always seems more stifling at the beginning of the season. That and the shock associated with the fact that three weeks ago, there was nobody on this beach but you and your dog. When your dog was allowed on the beach – now he’s not, because there are just too many damn people.
It is also nice to go to the beach without your dog – mine is forever guilting me into bringing him, and then when we get there he bounds all over the place and behaves badly. If other dogs refuse to play with him, he circles around them and barks like a freak. If there is an “I’m really not a dog person” person anywhere in the vicinity, he will find them and unsuccessfully attempt to make friends. He pees on surf boards.
Ultimately, he’s soaking wet, covered in ticks, and stinks like whatever rotting carcass he took a bite of while I wasn’t looking. I have to apologize to everyone who rides in my car because he tracks sand everywhere. But if there are no rules saying I can’t, I bring him every time.
So here I am at the beach while Yukon is home sulking. I’m glad he’s not here, because today is the sort of day when staring into space and thanking God for making people smart enough to put electrolytes in vapor distilled water is all you’re capable of. I can almost feel it pulsing through my veins, trickling into the far reaches of my body that have been shriveled and dried since I decided it would be a good idea to close Liar’s Saloon last night.
I am hoping that some oblivious tattooed sun God will part the seas of mediocrity and give me something delicious to look at. No such luck. Instead I’m left to reflect on the mating rituals of others.
There is a pale dude with obscene amounts of hair on his back and none on his head, kneading sunscreen between the shoulder blades of a busty but thoroughly disinterested, 23-year-old reading a magazine. A few feet away a couple of well bronzed teenagers have been interlocked in a sandy, full body kiss for about 20 minutes, a pair of board shorts their only form of birth control.
I imagine that the guy with the back hair has a net worth proportionate to the hotness of his girlfriend, and that the horny couple will break things off when they are finally parted by a college lacrosse scholarship.
But this moment is theirs, as much as it is mine. They ask someone to snap their picture with a Nikon coolpix from Best Buy, and that moment is frozen in time, that weekend in Montauk, with me in my chair in the background.
I have to get up and go to work waiting tables – I might even be about to serve them dinner – but at this moment I am a tourist in Montauk, and it is good to be on vacation.