lundi 29 avril 2013
The place is empty. So far this is what you might expect from a rented accommodation. But we know she must be here somewhere. She above our head, she our hostess. On the ground floor there are two double bedrooms plus two beds in the main room. And there is the mysterious door leading upstairs. Now we hear her moving, sporadically, her steps mapping out the ceiling. It gives me the creeps. I have seen those films, soon a yellow ribbon will encircle the house, a neat line that Lt. Crass will cross crouching underneath, already stopped by a rookie, flashing his badge - What’s the story here? Don’t tell me they’ve been stiffened by a bloated badger. Mind, wouldn't be the first time a Brit got stuck in one of 'em.
Half of our party decide to have a rest, alone in their bedroom. Very Brave. Us sensitive men cautiously familiarise ourselves with the surroundings. We have a look outside, lean on the deck, walk the few steps towards the swimming pool. The large pool has been covered for the winter. There is a cocktail bar waiting to host an undergraduates’ spank fest. Every shed, tent, store room, is thoroughly inspected. We’re not leaving anything to chance.
The back of the house is the worst route for exit: a forest of silver birch matted with gold leaves, trails concealed. We return to the house. If only we had beers. Unbeknown to us, entertainment is on its way. Standing on the deck, Joseph is talking to someone, someone feminine. I join him. Lt. Crass would describe her as a fine lady. And he is right. I shake her hand but pull out too early. I feel the offense, the first of many. I shouldn’t be too worried though, we are on a learning curve, off to become experts in casualness.
Our hostess insists on giving us a little tour. Tour of the house, of all the places we pretend to not have already thoroughly searched; tour of several maps, interspersed with anecdotes and recollections, where to visit, dine or keep away from. It turns out our lady has different recommendations from the internauts’ community. So, words you shouldn’t speak: the Yacht Club, the Monster. Just a piece of advice here.
It was time for her to let us get on with the rest of the evening. But before she left she treated us to one last thing. Worried we might get cold on the beach our hostess - let’s call her L - brought us back a box of hats. A range. If you think this is good hosting you haven’t heard it all. We were treated to two boxes of hats, the second shortly following the first after she realised we had made great use of her prop-supply. How we posed and rallied “ironically” to the hipster cause, sunglasses/fur/a strong sense of self sparked electronically to the world.
But this is fun times. I wouldn’t be writing about all this if it weren’t also for thoughtful times. During the tour of the property, L made a mention of 9/11. Don’t sigh yet, this was in passing, the reason why she had moved from her Manhattan apartment to this home in the Hamptons. It was short and without emphasis but certainly not a throwaway comment. I perceived it as an allusion to a separate life from the past, a date at which she had had to engineer a new future for her to live in. She was alone in this house. This is all we knew, the rest we fabricated.
So this is when my feelings become entangled. Most people are nurtured to hate Americans. To a certain extent I was. I don’t think it as anything personal, and the reason why we do it eludes its point. Because this is what we do, us outsiders. But again I am wrong. I am not you so this us doesn’t stand. What I mean to say is I resent the way I felt when it happened. I am not talking about three months after the attack, but right as and when I heard it on the radio. I was on a bus and I thought the US deserved to be beaten up. Because of Bush, because of many other reasons I didn’t understand.
But with her first-hand tale, not even a tale but an allusion to it, L spoke deeper to my inner human than any documentary, debate or explanation of the why, the how, the who and the what next.
Anyway, I would like to talk more about Montauk and what we did but I somewhat feel I spent too long reminiscing about hats. Two things my memory will keep. One is the ocean, even if I couldn’t tell the difference between this side and the other of the Atlantic (it’s in the mind, the world will die with me); Two is Brooklyn Summer Ale in a can. I am crying inside I can’t find it in this country. Pale blue and red. Look at it. Just look at it!! Why am I denied such beauty?
Next time the damn Village and a bus full of trannies. With everything in the right place.
*photo stolen from Benjamin