We just returned from a brief stay in “The Hamptons.” I’ve never really known what exactly that phrase means, but in my mind it is large beach houses and Billy Joel and Jerry Seinfeld sunning on their decks. It is technically the east end of Long Island, the southern part of the fish tail that it forms, and is comprised of Southampton, East Hampton, Bridgehampton, and others ending like that.
It was a family gathering in a rented home, and we had a very enjoyable time in this strange land. My observations are about the Hampton’s in general, without any regard to the family members whose company I enjoyed.
The Hamptons appear to me to be very Jewish, in addition to being very wealthy. I had a feeling that it is where the people who own the country spend their summers. The people who run the country are in DC and nearby localities. If you read this blog regularly, you know this does not cause any resentment in me. I like my life, don’t want anyone else’s. By “Jewish” I don’t mean that they wear yarmulkes or sport side locks. I don’t recall seeing a synagogue, though they are surely there. Bacon is abundant. If these same people were walking in downtown Denver, I would not think they were Jewish. In the Hamptons, I think they are. I could be wrong.
But here is what I observed:
The various towns are very expensive. Two double scoops of ice cream cost $17. Parking at a small beach was $25. The stores are very posh, and they have a young clientele, often young mothers driving expensive vehicles. When I say they are “Jewish,” I mean it in a complimentary way, as these young women are very attractive, and just have that look about them that I cannot define and could be so wrong about. As they age, they still carry themselves in a self-assured manner, as if they are used to having their way. Think of Joan Rivers on stage, never doubting herself.
There is the derogatory phrase “JAP”, or Jewish American Princess. I know what it means, but did not think of them that way. They are perhaps privileged, maybe spoiled, but most likely are well-educated and not at all shallow. Christopher Hitchens made a distinction, with which I agree:
“To be a spoiled person is not to be well-off or favored by fortune or protected from brute realities. It is to be well-off or favored by fortune or protected from brute realities and not to know it.”
If they know about their extreme good fortune in life, so be it. Enjoy! If they think they are in their shoes by any other grace than mere birth canal, I have a slight problem. But it would take time to get to know them and understand them better, and my rank in life does not permit this.
More so than in regular places, I noticed there that women are still having babies at a young age. In regular life, as I observe it, Americans are waiting until at least late 20s to have children, even later. This is because it is so hard to launch now compared to years past. But if these young women are married to already-wealthy or successful young men, there is no need to wait. Everything is in place early in life.
Hampton housing a mixture, but often very old, even going back to the 1600s – refurbished many times, of course. Hidden away on side roads are some incredible mansions, maybe 20 bedrooms and four or more fireplaces. I did not look at the mailboxes, though I am quite sure that the Acheson’s do not have a box with their name on it at the head of the driveway. There are also small houses scattered about, one and two-bedroom cottages that I would bet are worth a million or more. Location …
Traffic is frenetic, and mostly of the service variety – builders, plumbers, gardeners. We left yesterday morning via New York State Route 27, and passed miles upon miles of people going into the Hamptons. These are service people on their way to work. Traffic coming out there was at a crawl. This is the daily routine in summer, perhaps all year round. We saw very few buses. The Long Island Railroad services the area, so I imagine that many more come by that route.
It was a fun four days, and we are glad we went to be with family, and also to see another slice of life. Given the heat and humidity and cost of living, I will stay put, but I wish them all happiness.