A Cardinal Introduction

Written By: sophie crouch

“MAKE A RIGHT!” yells brah.

Sat on front porch, talking to Don, watching East End summer roll by via weekender wheels, cars, idiots, bicycles, locals, idiots, golf carts, visitors, idiots. Birds discuss the afternoon as sun wakes from siesta, stretching its rays through the trees one last time before retiring to dusk. A rabbit darts into hedge as bass emerges from asphalt as topless jeep rolls by with topless brahs, one brah stood out of top holding onto something being dragged behind.

They make a left. And there it is. A kite, that was, refusing to play their game, hopeless surrender. And they wonder why they can’t get it up.

Walking across the morning green, dew kissing the tired sides of my sandaled feet, crunching pretzel and popcorn remains from the previous night’s movie screening, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to find Them.” We didn’t see it so I couldn’t tell you but I do know where to find your common beastus hominus. Main St, found haranguing wife early morning for assisting in collection of dog poop before he’s had his coffee and bagel at Goldberg’s.

“I don’t need a bag, Cheryl. Cheryl, I don’t need one, put it away, i got three already! What are you giving me a bag faw? I got one! Why do you do that? I got three, Cheryl. I don’t need any maw! Why would you do that?”

Why indeed. Did Cheryl learn nothing on her trip to the zoo as a child? Don’t feed the animals! Not before they’ve been fed. But if you want to practice magic and turn your beastly morning into that of Forkful beauty, try a fried custard croissant from Beach Bakery. No one could resist such layered sweetness. Just don’t call it a cronut. East End legend must be preserved. It was here first.

I stare out of kitchen window to garden, agog at the pure joy of the trees, arms swaying gently in the sea breeze, welcoming squirrel, bird, bug, wasp, & wasp. A bold flashlight of red appears. Flaps. Fantastic Beasts! It’s a cardinal. It hops onto the lawn basking in it’s solo performance. I stand to applaud with my camera. It flies. I await its return.

Sunday. Rob invites me to the synagogue where in the garden we come across the landscaper. A local. Ocal. Olish. David Olish. Like Polish, minus the P though it is, in fact, not fiction, of Polish origin. Of Olish Farms, a wonderland of ocal, sorry, local produce. Organic. Lorganic. I’ll stop. Am getting that look Rob gets when he’s at Best Market checkout as he splits the tab between cash and card. “Some crabby apples around here”, I remark. “Some don’t like Jews”, he says. Oh, I wonder…but the sauce goes so well with latkes.


To the library, a cottage of respite from the Main Street slop of flip flops, tears of tantrums, and scent of sunscreen. Cool leather chairs and desks invite you to sit and stay a while, crack a book, crack a back, read. Or at least eavesdrop, book as prop. You came here to learn after all, and unless you embrace the occasional loud enquiry at the info desk, it would simply be an annoyance.

So you learn that the desk clerk is not a Sagittarius, as assumed by the member insisting her senior fitness class be changed to yoga on the beach as she twists the clerk’s arm beyond his will. Because she’s a Sagittarius. And he’s wearing purple, her favorite color. It suits him so well…

“It’s such a vibrant color, I used to wear it all the time. Looks great on you. Are you sure you’re not a Sagittarius? Now I know there’s four spaces in yoga and one in Pilates so surely you can swap me in? The other lady said no but I just can’t with this class. I mean, it’s torture. So slow! I’m not that old! Surely you can do something?”

You hear his relent, he just can’t with her new age profiling of his shirt choice.

“Ok, so you want to book the yoga?”

“Well, is it on the beach? It has to be on the beach. I’ll take anything on the beach.”

“Yes, yoga is on the beach, as is Pilates.”

“Well I know there’s 4 spaces in yoga so-”

“I’ll book you for yoga. ”

“As long as it’s on the beach.”

“Yes it’s on the beach.”

You hear the exhaustion. You feel it. Your head is in the book you’re no longer reading. You’re not wearing purple and you’re not a Sagittarius. You just can’t.


The cardinal and I have become friends. He visits each afternoon around 3pm, and now allows himself to be photographed. Would he do an interview for Dan’s Papers? He tells me his name is Don. I lie. I silly. Birds don’t talk! They tweet. ‘Call me Don Trump’, it read. I lie again. He didn’t tell me his last name.

Don has rescinded his offer to be interviewed. He finds my taste questionable. What was i talking about? Fried croissants, poop bags, brahs and astrological shirt choices. Quite, says Don. Questionable.

He flies. I fly. Back to the Left Coast. Yes, my taste remains questionable but i will forever savor that amuse-bouche of the Hamptons.