Every year flowers bloom on the beaches of East Hampton. Reaching up from the sea grasses which surround them, they strain up completely straight or curve around in a sort of bowl toward the light. Sea dusted and pink-purple-yellow pastel, or white, they somehow manage to survive the winter’s depredations to reappear each summer.
Sunday, July 16th was a dazzler, the kind of day that makes your eyes ache for sunglasses until you cover your orbs. At the food stand, under the umbrellas was an interesting collection of old humanity. There were some round bellied men with indistinguishable noses and overgrown brown wisp hair. Their wives, in redundant peplum bathing suits, had arms that seemed to slide down from their shoulders, like seal flippers that could enable them to clap, if they had a mind to, when their food appeared. Their children were fat. There was not much conversation beyond the menu offerings.
Also, there were masters of the universe, sleek and blonde, as muscled as they dared or could be, half oh so handsome manimal, half A.I., with some of the wrong parts in the wrong halves. Their wives were even blonder than they, blonder than a wilderness of Miss Clairols could deliver to an earthly paradise of unenlightened Siddharthas. Some of the jewels they wore were so new that they didn’t even have names yet, and when they were finally identified,some might even turn out to be valuable. The sons were V-shaped and snake hipped, tousle haired and aqua – eyed, and the daughters laughed with the chinging of bicycle bells; it seemed their ideals, and maybe their virtues, might possibly be permeable. (Just a guess.) Lots and lots of similar children were unaccompanied at all. Like the others, they were expensively nearly clad. A good number of hearty somewhat overupholstered lower level Wall Street and legal types were in the crowd too, as were their female couterpartesses and their girl and boy friends too. Their boyish laughter and giddy trills mixed into the soundscape. Older people in white shorts and the palest colored shirts, sporting freckles and skin blemishes, either moved snappily from all that tennis they played all week long, or, if they were a bit crumbly, tottered unsteadily on their feet as they made their way to the tables. One smallish black group tried hard to seem neither scared nor out of place; jolly, even.
There were boys, smaller and more serious looking than the other youths. They wore the same bathing suits and t-shirts the careless ones did, though theirs were cheaper and maybe just a season out of style. They were the ones pushing brooms and depositing plastic bags in the trash, or sitting outside behind their wooden counter telling the gentry where they might park their assorted blingmobiles, whose names began with M or V or J or T, (almost all black or white or silver, like everything else on the road; any other color would clash with the prevailing sensibility, it seemed.)
Ah, but why be unkind to these people? By November they would all be gone, leaving the place to the potato people who used to walk it 50 or 70 years ago. In November they will let the dogs off their leashes to run on the beach, and talk to one another without making new friends. These are the ones who used to knock on each other’s doors, and walk in without their neighbors worrying. The summer ones would then be worrying how they could afford to return to East Hampton again. Til then they could always go to East Hampton Chutney on Amsterdam Avenue for a whiff of a reminder.
But on July 16th there was a single sailboat plunging through the waves off Main Beach. It was a unique thing of beauty for us all: a silver sail on a dazzling afternoon lemon sea.