Twenty years ago, when my darling husband and I were first in love, we lived in Manhattan. He spoke often of his wonderful childhood summers in nearby East Hampton, New York.
Although I loved everything about him, I thought he was misguided in his affection for the Hamptons – elite beach towns often ridiculed for their uber-rich, uber-celebrities. People like Steven Spielberg, Paul McCartney, Sarah Jessica Parker and Paul Simon, who spend glorious summers pretending to be normal folk, shopping for gourmand groceries at Citarella, splashing in the ocean waves, eating ice cream at Scoop du Jour. Modern day Marie Antoinettes playing at the simple joys of peasant milkmaids.
“You grew up in New Jersey,” I told him. “You can’t help but like shallow pastimes.” I was an utter reverse snob. And proud of it. I refused to come out to the Hamptons.
Fast forward five years. In a moment of sleep-deprived craziness (working full time, caring for a toddler, six months pregnant with baby number two) I agreed to one week in August 1998 at his favorite beach. You probably can guess what happened: I fell in love. I fell hard for the romantic white beaches, the gray shingled cottages, the ridiculously delicious fresh corn and juicy tomatoes from local farm stands. We’ve come here every summer since, gradually working up from a week in August to the entire month of August.
Most embarrassing, however, is that I have become as celebrity smitten as everyone else out here.
And I’d like to proudly share my summer 2012 highlights with you now.
First: Christy Turlington. When I was smack of out college, working at Seventeen Magazine, I had my supermodel stats down. Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, Nikki Taylor – they were all my BFFs. So of course, standing outside the yoga bathroom three weeks ago, I instantly made Christy despite the fact that she had not a stitch of makeup on her perfectly proportioned, nearly 50-year-old supermodel cheekbones. Up close, I have to say: she has the most beautiful rosebud lips ever to grace a human face.
Best of all, a few minutes after our karmic encounter at the bathroom door, I saw Christy again at Citarella. And – drum roll – she used those perfect lips to say “hi” to me. I still have not fully recovered.
A few minutes later Kelly Ripa blew by, powerwalking across the intersection at Montauk Highway and Newtown Lane. She is shorter than you’d think, and blonder, but every inch of her tiny body is perfectly toned. Cellulite is not a word she knows.
The next day, my husband and son worked out at the gym with Alec Baldwin. They report he is slimmer than in his last movie (a new marriage to 27-year-old Pilates teacher does that to a man) and bench-pressing hard. He looks younger in person, they report.
This past weekend I played in the 64th Annual Artists vs. Writers softball charity fundraiser, alongside Carl Bernstein, Mike Lupica and Ken Auletta. President Bill Clinton, wearing a crisp black Polo that set off his white hair, stopped by to cheer us on. (The Writers won in a nail-biter, 12-11.) All in a typical East Hampton afternoon.
But the best came last, as August started to draw to its halcyon close and the beach drained as children returned to various mid-Atlantic school districts. Yesterday afternoon, sitting under my broken-down, end-of-season beach umbrella at Main Beach, eating carrot sticks and watching my three kids in the water, a 50ish, blonde, skinny surfer dude five feet to my left caught my eye. He smiled at me graciously, like a visiting dignitary handing a child a free balloon. He looked like a scruffy bad boy drug addict cleaned up and done good. In other words, just my type. I smiled back. He then dug a hole for his butt in the sand, and took out the New York Times, which he proceeded to read as if memorizing every word. Even better – a bad boy drug addict turned intellectual!
I could feel his celebrity shimmer, but I didn’t quite recognize him. Maybe a star from a recent reality show? His teeth were very, very white, which to me bespoke Hollywood connections or a justifiable public relations need for regular teeth bleaching by a certified cosmetic dentist.
It took my 13-year-old daughter to clue me in. She’d had him ID-ed by some local teenagers who’d been trying to work up the courage to ask for a photo.
“Some guy named Jon Bon Jovi, Mom. Every heard of him?”