By Sandra Rufolo
The ‘70s. The Golden Era in the Hamptons. Disco dancing, Harvey Wallbangers, Pernod and Perrier. You could even park on Southampton’s Gin Lane Beach without a sticker.
The locals don’t really like that you’re here, and make you feel like you live on the wrong side of the tracks no matter what your upbringing is. But you are a young, good-looking student at Southampton College, and all you want to do is peek behind those impenetrable privy hedges to see what happens on those estates.
You could play a leading role in a Woody Allen film if he let you. You possess that voluptuous yet earthy innocence—long, shiny, sun-bleached hair parted down the middle, faded bell-bottom jeans—someone who hangs out watching those irresponsible rich kids surf at the end of Dune Road.
When they try to tow your car away on Cooper’s Beach, you go ballistic. You run to the car, put the key in the ignition, rev up all four cylinders and forge right up that dune while the engine sucks in the sand and puffs out black, noxious fumes. You escape, as your friends stand clapping and laughing hysterically on the sidelines.
Your friends comprise some Southampton college kids, a few blue-collar locals and a handful of elite, who have befriended you for whatever reason. Some you sleep with, some you blow dope with in the back of a car or on the beach. Sometimes, the popular skinny bartender comes along. But no matter what you do the day or evening before, you get yourself right back on Job’s Lane the next day to serve the public in a restaurant owned by a caustic, greedy ‘ole real estate agent, whose kids are spoiled and kind of, let’s just say, monsters.
OK, “kids” is used in the loosest of terms. We’re talking about adult-sized, 20-year-olds who have no direction. They necessarily didn’t have to have an education, but they sure like dating those “college girls” from Barnard and Vassar … the fresh-faced girls from privileged families who could winter in Spain’s Canary Islands and name streets after themselves.
So this real estate agent sets up a tent and hires lots of waitresses. They wear tight-ass blue slacks and yellow halter jerseys cut low on the sides as uniforms, and are getting kind of disgusted of people who call themselves stars and of long-legged model types who kiss tanned, shiny-faced people. You see them in the clubs discoing in their crinkled linen mixed in with people who wear three-piece polyester suits and fat ties. “Rock the boat, baby. Don’t rock the boat, baby! Oooohh.” Oh, wow, they are so long-legged the women. Are they women? You look, and you steal another glance.
You’re back to your serving duties, tray in hand, ready to whack the first obnoxious, self-entitled person that comes along. A water rat slinks under the woodwork. It’s the final English Muffin burger, fries and Banana Daiquiri you serve for the day, Then you hear it: Elton John wailing out, “Benny and the Jets. Benny. Benny B—eeeennny—- n’ the Jeeeeetttts.” Someone has punched it into the jukebox for the umpteenth thousandth time. Up at the front bar, just for fun, you and the whole staff decide to call everyone with “ish” at the end. There was SusISH and JoeISH and then there was this white cat you called KittISH, whose portrait hung on the wainscoted wall of the restaurant until some foreign people took over and fancied up the joint. There was also a three-legged mutt called PebbleISH. But we digress.
OK, back to the pants that were real tight. Well, their pants are too tight, because, “I can’t help it if their asses are too big,” the boss announces one day out of the blue in front of Truman Capote, who just so happens to stop in for a few minutes, standing in the middle of the floor, guzzling an iced-cold Heineken. Capote is exciting to see, especially when he’s spotted with his friend Lee Radziwill, a silhouette of grace and emaciated elegance.
Oh, and those boutiques are emptying out the tips in your pockets. You window-shop, and you desire those clothes that beckon you in. You turn your apron inside out only to cough up some lint and a straw. You’re right across from the art museum. So stylish, so sinfully unaffordable, these shops. So you put a deposit on that shirt, with lint. It’s maroon and it’s made in France, and, oh, the material. It’s the most beautiful blouse you have ever seen. What have you done, you ask yourself. Shut up, you tell yourself. Back to reality. Gotta get back to the waitressing job.