It was not my first time at the rodeo that is the Hamptons, tagging along with friends to stay with distant relatives or friends of friends because we sure as hell couldn’t afford to summer there. But this time, I actually went to a bar and mingled with true Hamptonians. My friend’s friend’s dad owned the bar, which was highly convenient for our drinking. So when the man I was to date came up to me, I can’t honestly say that I remember much about it. I do know that I was wearing an extremely short dress, that somehow evoked childishness. And I was with my most childish friends, acting most foolishly.
Which isn’t to say that he was pedophiliac or anything. We met at a bar, which clearly showed that I was over 21. I simply didn’t understand what would attract such an established person as a Hamptonian to an immature freeloader like me.
The wealth disparity was quite evident on our few dates. When he talked about the management costs of an architecturally exquisite building, I was staring at an out-of-place whitewashed wall a few rooftops away. When he talked about going boating, I squinted my eyes and wondered if he was kidding. And when he mentioned the intramural softball league he was a part of at work, I smiled condescendingly.
It was an interesting phenomenon that I thought I was better than him. He and I had intelligent conversations and he had a wonderfully maintained body and his apartment made it very clear that he did well for himself, and yet… I think my superiority came from a sense that he was out of touch with what was truly important. Maintenance costs on a building you aren’t even considering is not worth the time or effort. He didn’t even properly summer in the Hamptons, he rent shared! I just felt as though he was striving for things that were still out of his reach, in a way that reeked of unhappiness.
Although perhaps he lives in that building now and the maintenance costs are actually relevant. I hope so. And I hope he still puts lotion on his feet before he puts on his cashmere socks.
Even I saw the value in that habit.