A Fabulous Week Off

Upstate, half the people you talk to have never heard of Fire Island and the other half think it’s that gay place. I end up spending a lot of time explaining that there are about a dozen towns on Fire Island and only two of them are considered “gay” —even though one of them, Cherry Grove, is perhaps the gayest place on earth. It makes Provincetown look like Mayberry.

Thanks to the amazing kindness and benevolence of my brother and sister-in-law, we’ll spend next week at the house they own in Ocean Bay Park, which is about 2.5 miles and a world away from Cherry Grove. OBP is considered to be the most ramshackle and rowdy of Fire Island’s communities, famous for its shared rentals, bars, and endless happy hours. We’re staying just steps from the town’s most fascinating feature, the fence that keeps OBP people out of ritzy Point O’ Woods. Yes, a fence. To keep us out.

The fence is 15 feet high and you can only get in through a locked gate. One time we snuck in after tricking some Point O’ Woods children into letting us pass in behind them. They were not yet old enough to know our cheap clothes and vaguely ethnic looking features meant we didn’t belong. Maybe they thought we were there to tend the gardens. Anyway, we strolled through the the meticulous little village, trying desperately to look like we belonged there, but it was pretty clear we didn’t. Maybe we’ll try it again this year, except this time I’ll shave. And bring a tennis racket. And wear a Harvard t-shirt. Then -maybe- I’ll look like I belong there. And I’ll avoid speaking to the locals. If you’ve ever read a Ken Follett spy novel, you know that’s where people tend to get tripped up.

5 thoughts on “A Fabulous Week Off

  1. Even with a tan, you look pretty far from even “vaguely ethnic” I don’t know who your trying to kid.

  2. Alas, I’ve never been to “Ocean Bay Park” in any conscious sense. However, the place you describe sounds strikingly familiar to an island I’ve frequented on several occasions; mostly with a flagon of liquor in hand and a penchant to drink it riding on my shoulder. Were it not for that blasted ferry ride, perhaps I’d be able to discern the welcome sign beyond its first five letters. Previously, I simply called this place ‘Ocean Beach’ for several reasons, many of them pertaining to blood alcohol content…I digress…my point in writing was to relay a fond memory of this place in the post-9/11 October 2001, as the summer rats were fleeing for more populous shores…addled on vodka, I decided it would be a good time to procure a young lass and head the other direction, catching the last ferry destined for desolation. We debarked to find no lodging, no open markets, no open bars and certainly no easy way off the sandy peninsula outside of felonious means. In our luck, we were approached by a kind lady who realized our predicament: One half-full bottle of booze and no mixer. She invited us into one of the homogeneous beach houses and furnished us with a bottle of bloody mary mix, a lime and some munchies to take onto the sunset walk down the Fire Island coast(she said she would have offered us a place to stay, but had company coming for the night)…from there, things got strange…But I can tell you this from the whole experience: Don’t wander into the U.S. Coast Guard base at Robert Moses after a terrorist attack while toting a mostly empty fifth of vodka and a young harlot; don’t try to hitchhike across the Robert Moses Bridge at half-past midnight and certainly don’t trust any folk looking sketchier than you at the West Babylon train station…again I digress…my original point was I’m glad we didn’t decide to walk east…

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