My wife Laura and I loved to visit the east end of Long Island when we were younger. Usually, we went during off-season when it was quiet and one could leisurely enjoy the little boutiques in the Hamptons and the solitude of Montauk, without navigating through the hordes of the seasonal visitors that take over every summer. As our two boys grew up, the four of us would sometimes make a day of it.
We rarely had an agenda. When first married, we spent a few anniversaries overnighting in Montauk, just enjoying a good meal at Shagwong, browsing Gosman’s, strolling the beach or driving to nearby East Hampton to wander along it’s quaint, lovely Main Street. Our anniversary is in mid April, so swimming was out of the question, but we bundled up and were off. There was a beauty in the peaceful quiet we both enjoyed and a rugged natural feeling studying the ocean from the patio of our room at the Ocean Beach Hotel on an early spring day.
One Sunday this April, it dawned clear and milder than usual. My wife suggested we take a ride to East Hampton to prowl around and have lunch. She was looking to get out after a long winter. The past two years have been difficult with the passing of both her parents and facing the prospect of an empty nest when our son Scott goes to Purdue University in late August. So this was a great opportunity to relax.
We drove to East Hampton and got homemade donuts in town. We then spent an hour or so window shopping and occasionally venturing into some of the boutiques. We walked as far east as the Windmill and then retraced our steps on the other side of the street. Since I had a short story that had been recently been published in the East Hampton Star, we picked up a copy of the paper along the way. I followed Laura’s lead; it was her day, and a very pleasant way to spend the time at that.
We then decided to take a short ride to Bridgehampton for lunch. As we started along Main Street, there was a Bentley parked on the street with its top down.
Deciding to have a little fun, I took a picture of the Bentley with my phone. I sent it to our two boys. Our older son, Chris, now lives outside Richmond, Virginia and Scott was at home doing homework.
I typed “Your mom and me decided to shop for a new car. Want to know what you think about this one?”
We didn’t have to wait long. Chris typed, “Good one, but I actually prefer a Rolls, lol.”
About thirty seconds later, Scott, an aficionado of sort on cars with whom I have attended the Automobile Show in New York for several years, texted the following: “Ha ha, very nice.”
“I wonder whose car it is,” Laura asked. She always likes to try to figure these things out by watching the people around us.
“Don’t know. It could be anybody’s,” I said
“I’m surprised somebody would leave it parked there with the top down,” she said. I bet it’s that guy’s car, she said gesturing at a gentleman sitting at an outdoor table at the Golden Pear Café.
“Could be,” I agreed, as we walked along Main Street.
I had to admit that he looked the part. He was wearing a polo shirt with a nice pair of slacks and an ascot like scarf, with white shoes. Very neat. He almost looked like one of those old fashioned playboys from the 1920’s. He was with another gentleman that was neat, prim and appeared to be a candidate, but looked slightly less the part. Or so we thought. That was the fun of trying to figure out these things. People study is a major part of the game, which Laura loves. We continued our walk while discussing the possibilities.
When we returned to the front of the cafe, however, Mr. White Shoes was still sitting at the table with his friend.
“We can’t wait here, forever. Let’s eat lunch,” I said to Laura.
We ate at the Candy Kitchen, a great old fashioned fountain style luncheonette. The food was great and they have homemade ice cream in front.
Suddenly, Laura nudged me and pointed discreetly. Old white shoes was in front getting ice cream with his buddy.
“I was sure the Bentley was his,” Laura said drawing a conclusion that his presence at the ice cream counter somehow disqualified him from ownership of the luxury car.
“He still could be the owner. They may have wanted ice cream, just like us.”
When we passed the restaurant later, though, there was no sign of Mr. White Shoes or his friend. The Bentley remained parked at the curb.
“Probably belongs to the guy who owns the cafe,” she said, sounding a little disappointed.
“Yeah, I guess so.”
Deciding we couldn’t stand vigil playing our little game watching the Bentley all day, we left for home. But it had been a pleasant day of idling on the East End. And sometimes, a silly but harmless little game can add to the fun.