True Life! I Fled the Hamptons

by Eddie Roche

Sad but true: the East End isn’t for everyone. Meet one anonymous Manhattanite who spent more than a decade out East before tiring of the traffic, the scene, and the monde, and eventually finding solace in the Catskills. Does this seasoned fashion exec have any regrets? Read on!

What made you leave?
I absolutely loved it there. I spent year after year having the time of my life, and then the invasion began, which changed everything. Let’s go back in time: When I was in my late twenties, the Hamptons was the coolest place. It was so authentic. Jerry Della Femina used to own East Hampton Point, and I went there a lot. It was magnificent. Then it gradually became invaded by boom boxes.

Boom boxes?
Music! There was a party in every house. The shares made things so gross. There were too many people. Every time you’d go somewhere, it was an effort. Try having lunch these days! In the past, you’d go into a place, sit down, and have a sandwich. Now, there are long lines everywhere, even at a taco stand!

What were some other pain points?
The effort of having to get there. From the moment you turn onto Montauk Highway, it’s an infuriating nightmare. Another alternative is a train on the LIRR, where you are not guaranteed a seat and risk having to sit in the dirty aisle next to 20-year-old PR assistants. No, thanks! The compromises that people make! I don’t want to be exploited anymore. I also hated that nothing in the Hamptons is spontaneous. To me, the definition of a vacation is not planning anything. Otherwise, I might as well stay home.

We imagine you have some thoughts about the LIE.
It’s horrible. There is no winning. The only light at the end of the tunnel is the HOV lane. The horror to get there… Even getting out of Manhattan is terrible. I don’t know how people who commute put themselves through that hell every day. It doesn’t even matter when you go. You can leave at 7 a.m. and it’s horrible, you can leave at 8 a.m. and it’s horrible, you can leave at 6:30 a.m. and it’s horrible, you can leave at 10 p.m. and it’s horrible. What is it with this LIE? It’s the ugliest drive. Who wants to pass a cemetery?

Did the Hamptons make you feel poor?
Not really. More exploited and used. I’m a big believer in free market and enterprise, but I don’t want to pay $58
for a lobster roll. The prices are astounding, and that’s just what everybody accepts and expects. Also, I have
no idea how people have $22 million extra laying around for a vacation home.

Why have you settled in the Catskills?
Upstate is heaven to me. There’s complete silence, and the air is fresh. You can get there faster. When we used to drive out East, I’d have arguments with my wife about which shortcut to take, and I thought we were going to get a divorce. Now, she doesn’t have to worry about putting on makeup and heels to run an errand, because we never run into a soul.

What were the other nails in the coffin?
Every time I’d go out there, I’d start getting sick—horrible headaches, a low-grade fever. I never catch a cold in the summer! My doctor said, “Oh, yeah. That’s because all the beachfront houses have mold. You’d be better off with a place in the woods!” So here I was, spending tens of thousands on rent to get sick! Another thing that bothered me were the lack of bathrooms on the best beaches. What’s that about?

Tell us about your final summer on the East End.
It was about three years ago. We paid a fortune for a rental on the beach and the place was little more than an upscale shack. It didn’t have air-conditioning. There wasn’t even a TV! That’s not civilized. The owner didn’t believe in blinds, so I’d be woken up by blinding sun. The living room was minuscule. The neighbors were inches away. You could hear people coming and going all day and all night. My dog didn’t even like it. I’ll never forget the sadness in his eyes: He was looking at us like, “Why? Why do you do this? Why did we have to spend four hours in misery to get here?” We felt the same way. Anything that involves wanting to strangle someone next to you negates the point of a holiday. The only people who can truly enjoy the Hamptons are the wives of these men who work in finance and slave all day in the super hot city while the ladies work on their tan.

What do you do upstate for fun?
I enjoy my completely unobstructed view. We sit on the patio and we barbecue. We ride horses and go on long hikes. We occasionally go out to dinner and we never have to wait.

How is the restaurant scene in the Catskills?
It’s unbearable. I don’t even know how these places can open their doors. There are some sophisticated people
up here, so I really don’t know why we put up with it. We mostly cook at home.

To be clear: The Catskills aren’t perfect?
Not by a long shot. We really don’t have a lot in common with our neighbors. I don’t know if I’d want to go there by myself, for example. I would die of boredom.

Is there any way you could be convinced to return to the Hamptons?
When I retire, I will probably enjoy running into acquaintances and visiting friends, and I’ll have the time to make dinner reservations months in advance, so perhaps I’ll find myself in Southampton. Maybe.

And don’t you miss the beach?
I do. I’ll give you that. So maybe I’ll be back someday. Although with the water warm only two weeks of the year…I could always go to Florida!

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2 comments

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Karen Bromley July 18, 2016 - 5:03 PM

The restaurants In Hudson are great! (Swoon & Ca Mea are favorites) And Windham(my town) has some great ones too – Brie & Bordeaux; Mill Rock are two.
For all the reasons you mentioned, we too left the sand for the green and peace many years ago! More and more people coming up in summer as well as winter!
enjoy!

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Bunnun July 19, 2016 - 7:41 AM

First World problems…

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