November 18, 1997 (#20), but really about events in September, (and before ...)
My chipper chippies,
I have let you all down. It's been three months since my last confession. Get over it.
Onto more important matters. A trip to Fire Island. Woo hoo! Don't fret my little blue-lipped wonders, I took this jaunt back in September. My life has been a virtual laugh-riot since then, explaining why I have waited so long to produce. Forgiven? I expect so.
Why and how I was in New York, I'll never tell, but suffice to say that at the last bearable minute of my confinement, a tinkling of Mr. Graham Bell's wonderous invention brought forth the strapping voice of someone I'd met on Cape Cod earlier that summer.
"Trudy, won't you please come to the Island." (Please, the City, the Island, the Septic System. These things have proper names, and using them helps avoid confusion. Imagine if I had thought he was speaking of Alcatraz. Why, that would have been a very different invitation indeed.)
"Honey lamb, I'd do anything for a proper yummers. Not you dear, the drink. I've just been through quite a trauma with the until-recent furry beast. I'll be on the next ferry. By the way, how do I get there?"
Arrested development dearies. For all the time I spent living in Manhattan, I was never one to shunt off to beach resorts. Now in my advancing years, I seem to be among the "entertaining" set, rather safe and yet sparkling through the haze of others. Natural talent.
I packed a few overnight goodies and ran out of the house of the unmentionable who was hosting me. I do hate to appear ungrateful, but sometimes a host can go just too far. (Remember my sweet sour puss, I had reservations at the Plaza and you insisted... Listen to me next time. I don't turn down invitations without good reason.)
Skipping down the escaltor into Penn Station I made my way to the ticket counter. "One please to Fire Island." Shivers. The rather bored concubine behind the desk grimaced and mumbled something about Jamaica. I perked up, after all, I am known to sip a lovely dark rum on occasion. Those of you in the know, realize of course this had more to do with Long Island, than rum. Jamaica, it turns out, is merely a place to change trains.
Ticket in hand, and head full of instructions I wasn't likely to remember. I simply searched out the largest grouping of short-hair, goatees, nylon running pants (with stripe) and somewhat bored attitude men I could find and followed. Traveling in foreign countries requires some resourcefulness, don't you think?
I boarded the run-down dingy choo-choo that would take me from Manhattan, throught the wilderness, unto I knew not what. After a harrowing wait on the platform at Jamaica and onto my connection, I finally arrived at Sayville. Frederic, sweets, you grew up here - how resilient you are.
Truly the residents of Sayville are a jolly bunch. They meet you at the train and bundle you off to the ferrys lickety-split. Those of you with a penchant for conspiracy, might say that they are simply trying to keep our element off the streets, but I prefer to look at it as accommodating. It really is all in your attitude.
Land o' Goshen. The Ferry. The Island Queen. I swear! It was named the Island Queen. I fell down. Absolutely required. And it was named by the camp-challenged. Well, you live and learn.
The boating was rather banal. Brimming with steroids and white teeth, laughs and titters, shy glances and appraising ones - really I could have been walking down Halstead Street or Santa Monica Blvd. My arrival and most of the weekend were uneventful, at least to the extent that I am able to remember and that I care to reveal here. I think I was handed a 32 oz martini glass at one point, but I really couldn't say for sure. Really.
So much of the weekend is a jumble of memories of the sweet Lancelot who took his last walk to the sky a day before I left. I was escaping pain. It worked too! Sunday morning I happened to arise well before the others - as I usually do - and I thought, why I'll just go for a swim.
Once I located my togs and an appropriate bathing cap (it won't do to get an earache) I waddled down the boardwalk. It was a crystalline day. It was the first day of fall. It was easily 42 degrees. My skin was textured.
"But Trudy, how was the water?" Bracing. Cleansing. Chilly. I heard two regal gentleman exclaiming from their rented beachfront veranda, "Swimming?! Insane! It's freezing. Godammit I told you to take the cushions inside last night."
As you suspected. Insane but recovering.
While perhaps not the typical island experience of yore, nostalgically lamented about so frequently by those in the know, I treasure it nonetheless.
Bear with me, my dears, it's really all one can do.