Neighbors Held Captive in Mecox
By Fran Castan
On a brilliant afternoon at Mecox Bay, while one of our friends made lunch, the other offered to take my husband and me for a spin in their Boston Whaler. We three walked barefoot to the dock for a short, unserious outing.
Feeling like twelve-year-olds on the lake at camp, we shed our septuagenarian identities. We were practically singing, we were so happy. For about fifteen minutes, we motored quietly behind a flotilla of swans. Then, the sound of the engine changed. When it stopped, our host tossed an aluminum oar to my husband and said, “Paddle.”
At the nearest bulkhead, we tied up to get help, as if this were a perfectly ordinary and sane thing to do on a Saturday in Watermill. But wait, it’s no longer precisely Watermill. It’s The Hamptons, a name that obliterates the distinct charm of each village; a name that merges them into a conglomerate.
The Hamptons, home to celebrities – people who are first-rate at making themselves well-known,
rather than well-known for making themselves first-rate.
The Hamptons, where it’s impossible to find a shoe repair shop or any of the ordinary services enjoyed by those who have lived here from the end of the colonial era to the beginning of…The Hamptons.
Nevertheless, our friend, a Mecox resident for decades, and my husband and I, who have been local homeowners for 40 years, thinking we were in known territory, climbed out of the boat.
All of us were without wallets or cell phones or shoes. I can see that we might appear crazy to anyone who goes down to the sea in ships; but, to us, Mecox is a bathtub and the Whaler is a toy.
We hoisted ourselves onto the bulkhead, amazed that our well-used bones could accomplish this feat. We approached a house with six separate entrances, resembling those in a row of townhouses. Four sports cars were placed like compass points on a circular driveway. “Oh, good, someone must be home.”
I suggested we call out, so as not to surprise anyone, especially a dog! “ Hell-ooo-ooo.” Through a screen door, we saw a plush, but empty, sitting room. We continued to call.
After ten minutes, another door opened and a handsome man with white hair, a white mustache and sky-blue eyes emerged. The ties of his dark apron wrapped twice around his slim waist. The bib protected his expensive blue and white striped shirt with starched collar and cuffs. He was the butler, he said; and in just a few minutes, Brian would be coming to help us.
“Please, could you call a taxi for us, so we can get some gas and motor off?”
“No,” he said, “I’m afraid not. You’ll have to wait for Brian.”
“We really can’t wait much longer. Our friend’s wife will worry. She expected us back for lunch half an hour ago.”
“Sorry,” he said, “You can’t leave the premises until Security has a chance to check you.”
Security? We’re neighbors. We told him our names and our host’s address, directly across the cove. We apologized for intruding. All we needed was gas.
“I’m sorry,” he said, quite genuinely. “I truly am, but now you’re here and now you’ll have to
do things our way.”
Another man – in a business suit, white shirt and tie – raced toward us and demanded, “Who are you and just what are you doing here and how did you get in?”
We told our story again. He hurried us to the end of the driveway, telling the butler to keep us there until he returned. Then, quite abruptly, he jogged off.
My husband patted his own hip and gestured toward the departing jogger. I noticed a bulge. My husband whispered, “Gun!” The rude fellow was packing heat! Was this a movie or my life? Security? I felt extremely insecure.
In his charming French accent, the butler apologized for his co-worker’s order that my escorts and I scurry along the gravel in bare feet. Then he added, “You came at the worst possible time. The owner is in residence . You really don’t want to know who he is or where you are. You have no idea what you stepped into.”