Oil Spill in the Hamptons

Written By: Catherine M.  Nenninger


July 13th, 2007 should have been a beautiful day.  The weather was but, without warning, invisible thick and dreadful residue rained down upon an unknowing Hamptons community.  There was a moment of confusion by the patrons that evening, albeit ever so briefly, as they felt this layer suffocating their space.


It was our 12th anniversary.  We had arrived in time for sunset.  We ordered margaritas, on the rocks with salt, the way we always did.  We made our way over to the water to take in sunset.  His irritation persisted.  He hadn’t wanted to go out that evening.  In fact, he never wanted to go out.  But I had forced the issue on this special day and he was set to make me pay.  He leaned over toward the lady next to us, and said with his charming voice, “My wife thinks your legs are sexy.”  The embarrassment he intended made me nauseas.  “My wife thinks you’re very pretty,” he continued.  It may not seem evident but this was the character assassination that typically happened behind our mansion door and somehow it had accompanied us for the evening.  “I’ll have you know that men at work say I’m pretty,” I piped up.  He flew to say “Oh, you’re pretty.”  The innuendo of “pretty fat” stagnated the air.  He had admitted in weeks past that he was repulsed by my 150 pounds. We sat watching the patrons enjoying their dinners on the terrace that evening; I forced antipathy from my being.


The hostess rescued me; our table was ready.  I was sure I had seen her in Provisions earlier that week.  As I sat down, he went to pay the tab at the bar.  We stared at the menu.  He continued to be agitated and unwilling to let it go.  “So you went through the city again on the way home from work, didn’t you?”  I was often stunned at what he knew of my whereabouts and shopping travels throughout the Hamptons.  I was astonished that he knew on that very day I found myself in front of a Hampton Jitney stop in Manhattan, by accident.  It was annoying to me that I always seemed to miss the turn to avoid Mid-town.  I would only come to realize years later that he had been tracking my every move.


I shook the embarrassment loose and boldly responded to the question.  That’s when the oil was spat into my face.  “You’re an effin idiot” came the thundering boom.  Even the buoys stopped.  The vessel had ruptured and oil puddled around us but he could not see it.


I pushed away from the table and made my way to the bar.  As though in the Hamptons women never pay for drinks, the bartender squinched up her nose and wryly said “Mr. Nenninger closed out his tab.”  The oil ignited.  “Well, I guess I’ll have to pay for my own drink then won’t I?”  As I stood staring back at my husband, eyes beside me peered in amusement.  I licked the salt and sipped the drink and licked the salt and drank the drink.  The eyes leaned forward and whispered ‘that drink must really be good.’


Like an egret, smothered in oil, I knew my demise was imminent, but I would gasp for air with conviction.  I made my way past the restroom, across the gravel and on to Dune Road.  It was pitch black – absolutely pitch black once the lights of the restaurant disappeared – and I tried to align my march with the edge of the road.  I rhythmically bounced back and forth in my two-foot wide lane and finally broke free from the high heels I had been wearing.  I could feel the shell shards cut my feet with every step I took toward The Swordfish wondering if I would be able to walk 10 miles home.  After all, I had no choice.  With every drop of blood came a little less resolve.  I was alone and it was dark.  I was afraid.  I couldn’t make it on my own.  My children needed me to relieve the nanny and I couldn’t get their fast enough.  I staggered into consciousness.  Could it be that I had already made it to Roger’s Beach?  The words in my head were interrupted by the angry voice, “Get in.”  I did as I was told.  I always did as I was told.  Blood droplets seeped into the BMW carpet but I could feel no pain.  The Dockers bartender reluctantly saw to that.


Yes, July 13th, 2007 should have been a beautiful evening, and the oil spill that appeared on Dune Road is still being washed away today.