Dan Rattiner's Stories

Be Bad: A Blizzard of Things You Can Do to Disobey Hamptons Laws

Helium balloons, dress codes, plastic straws, smoking, mute white swans and more.

East Hampton Town is considering banning or greatly restricting the use of helium balloons in that town. After all, such balloons, usually with a silver coating, can be found every day on our beautiful beaches, having washed up after a release from an occasion that is clearly written in bright colors on each balloon. Happy Birthday Joel! Congratulations on Your Marriage! Forty Great Years! Billy and Jolene! Welcome to Your Retirement! Hooray for Uncle Bob!

You might be watching gulls hovering over a wave, looking for dinner, or you might stumble upon some gorgeous driftwood. And you’re thinking—who are Billy and Jolene? And why wasn’t I invited to that party? What’s far worse is what these balloons are doing to wildlife. Those that don’t get blown ashore can drift along in the ocean to eventually get eaten by wildlife that will die a horrible death by starvation with the balloon stuck in their throats.

Nevertheless, in discussing this proposed legislation, the Town is considering exceptions. Nobody wants to give a ticket to a small girl who accidentally lets go of a helium balloon string and then screams and cries as it wanders up and off. The word “intentional” is being bandied about. If it’s unintentional, that’s okay, Jolene. And the ban will be only on helium or hydrogen balloons. Those that float up.

Balloons with air in them that go sideways and not up are okay. And water balloons are not a problem, even if they explode when thrown. Suffolk County already has wrestled with this problem, but it’s been a waste of time. They passed an essentially useless law that excuses helium balloon releases at a party as long as it is less than 25 balloons on any given day. So you can release 24 balloons at a party on Monday, then release another 24 balloons Tuesday, then another 24 on Wednesday. This law is so awful, one thinks that maybe the helium balloon lobby had its way with the County Legislature when they were considering it.

Here are some other things you should not do in our towns. There’s a new law just passed against smoking outdoors in public in East Hampton Village. There’s a law against harming a piping plover in Sagaponack. I believe Montauk has passed a law making it illegal for a restaurant to offer the use of a plastic straw. The State has a law that makes it a crime to import a mute white swan. White swans have been known to scare away other wildlife in town ponds. They’re tyrants. And these swans are not indigenous. They were originally from Belgium. There’s a dress code in effect in Southampton that requires anyone on the public street to cover themselves between the areola (the flat part of the nipple) and a point midway between the hip and the knee.

What would happen if every governmental agency banned these things in the Hamptons? If that happens, here’s how to be really bad in America.

Go into town not covering yourself properly. Just wear a red tie and white plastic boots. Carry a bunch of helium balloons and slowly release them as you walk along, smoking a cigarette. On a leash you would have a white swan from Belgium for which you would have no doggie bag, so you’d veer off into wetlands and tramp about. You’d be carrying an alcoholic drink with a plastic straw in it, a boombox radio with the music way up loud while spraying fire-fighting foam all around from a tank-and-hose arrangement on your back. And you’d be quietly shooing a piping plover from rock to rock, giving it little scares to move it along. You could also throw rocks. Aim at windows. And with the hand not carrying the tank and hose, carry a gas-powered leaf blower. Turn it on when anybody approaches.

You would probably be arrested for doing this, but a judge will let you off with a warning if this basket of infractions was your first offense.

Free to go, you’d drive away in a stolen car that has an expired registration and inspection stickers on the windshield, then park it for three hours in a two-hour-maximum zone, and when you get back, erase the chalk marks on your tires with some kind of illegal acid that, if you get it on your hands you should go immediately to the emergency room.

Do all this, use curse words, pick your nose, pass gas and post an internet video of it all and it will go viral.

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