welcome to greenport in summer, man

Who are these people?

Spending G’s

FORGIVE ME if I have forgotten what the on season in Greenport is like. There are vague memories, yes, faint stains of motorcycles and convertibles humming down Front Street with pop music drifting through the air, “‘Cause we’ll never be royals {royals} …”

There were lines in those days, lines at the cafes and in the supermarkets, and just on the streets everywhere. It was hard to walk down the sidewalks, because the other pedestrians didn’t seem to know where they were going, and they’d just drift along as if lost in a bit of fog or a dream.

And you couldn’t drive through town without almost knocking down an aloof couple that looked like Mr. and Mrs. Howell from Gilligan’s Island, stepping by accident into the street beside the maritime supplies store, as if all of Greenport was their own private yacht. They had all come from somewhere to here, but from where and for what purpose?

In the off season, there was no one on Front Street on the January Monday mornings, and I was the only other soul beside the shivering postman and icy police officer, sipping his hot coffee next to his car as the reassuring steam curled up and into the air. You learned how to dress like a North Forker, too, not like the on season crowd, but with the correct amount of neglect in the wardrobe. At first, you dressed down just to blend in, but soon enough your clothes were dirty from some automotive or domestic mishap, and you didn’t bother to shave anymore, and imagined yourself as a tough and able Nantucket whaler. You would walk out to the end of the main pier in the wind and stare at Shelter Island and stay for as long as you could until the weather sent you running for Aldo’s Coffeehouse’s womb-like warmth.

There were few truly good-looking people in Greenport in winter, most of them haggard and some just above the poverty line. So when the good-looking, well-dressed people started showing up and spending G’s, I began to sense that something was amiss. In a place where flannel never went out of style, what to make of that couple in form-fitting athletic clothes rollerblading down the street? And did you hear, they had British accents?

Something is happening in Greenport. It’s changing. Restaurants that were closed for months are now open and busy. Beautiful people sit around the patio tables, looking as if they are somewhere special, somewhere to be seen. Beyond them, crowds of youths prowl about with cool green growlers from the brewery. Should I think of them as fools, or welcome their cash injections into the local economy? The latter seems to be the local sentiment. On the main road, the children of East Marion are selling lemonade. Southold residents are dragging old furniture out on their lawns and asking top dollar for these East End vintage antiques. Soon the local berry farm will begin charging “tourist prices” — $10 for a jar of authentic North Fork blackberry jam, with all of that just folks country, melted-in, mmm-mmm-mmm goodness.

[This isn’t just your average, run-of-the-mill blackberry jam. Oh no. This jam is from the North Fork.]

It’s enough to make a man scream when someone who looks like somebody from Hollywood goes strolling down the street walking a tiny dog and eating ice cream. At the cozy corner nook in the village between the Georgian-owned cafe where they sell the tasty khatchapuri and the Turkish-owned liquor store where I am fond of idling away my time and restocking my Bedell 2010 First Crush red table wine — which only costs $20 — I asked David, who has always lived here, about the swarms of savage strangers.

“David, what the hell is going on?”

“What do you mean, man?”

“There are all of these well-dressed people here this week. They look good and have nice clothes. They can’t be from around here.”

“Oh, you mean the yuppies? Welcome to Greenport in summer, man.”

“But it’s not summer. It’s still May.”

“Memorial Day weekend. That’s what kicks it off.”

“It’s crazy.”

“What is?”

“I saw a couple bicycling through town this morning. They were wearing matching fanny packs.”

“But that’s just how it is, man. And believe me, it’s only going to get worse.”

And maybe it has. David is suddenly clean shaven and wearing a collared shirt. And I am too. It’s Greenport in summer. Gotta stuff the local scruff.

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