(Ein) Stein On The Beach *

For much of this month I’ve been vacationing in Sag Harbor.  This place used to be called the unHampton . . . meaning that it was less ritzy than the other Hamptons.  More downtown than uptown. Well, that sensibility has gone the way of pleated pants.  One can almost no longer say with the same holier than thou attitude that he/she is staying in “Sag”.  I say “almost” because if you saw the place that I had rented you would understand why I have no trouble maintaining that endearing quality I have of being above it all.  I am, in fact, staying in the unSag Harbor.



Because it’s been so hot and so damn sunny, I’ve been going to the beach more than I have in many years. Occasionally, B and I biked on a lovely road to an ocean beach a half-dozen miles away. As I’ve sometimes done in years past, I strapped a chair on my back and attached a beach umbrella to the frame of the bike. All went well until we got to the parking lot at the beach and it was time for me to get off my bike. Because of various joint problems too dismal to go into, dismounting my bike has become a bit of an adventure.  Having the umbrella extending beyond the rear wheel made it virtually impossible for me to get off my bike in the conventional way.  So the only choice I had was to lift my leg over the cross-bar in the front of the seat.  I was a few inches shy of clearing the bar and sadly . . . very sadly, B had to grab my foot and guide it over the bar to the safety of land.  After that episode, I don’t think she’ll ever have sex with me again.  And who could blame her?

Once on the beach, I put the chair down and set out to plant the umbrella.  Somehow or other, I have become an expert in placing my umbrella in such a way, that it’s sure to get blown away.  This is not nearly as bad as it sounds; it’s a great way to meet people. They’re usually grateful they didn’t get impaled and it gives us something to talk about. Of course, if things go badly, it can also be a not-so-great way to meet their lawyers.

After several hours of me making believe I was reading and B actually reading, it was time to go.  But not before I got a chance to use my other great way of making friends at the beach. You see, for some reason my beach chair ordinarily won’t close. So I have to struggle with it by trying every which way to get it to fold. This, it turns out, is very entertaining to the people around me watching the show.  And often, they come over with suggestions and will sometimes even give it a try. This bonding experience usually leads to drinks, dinner and the formation of life-long friendships.  (Well . . . maybe not.)  I usually end the performance by trying to rapidly close the damn thing sixty or seventy time and then —voila!— it closes.  The only thing missing is a drum roll.

Finally, after feeling totally enervated from being at the beach, it’s back on the bikes for a ride that seems twice as long going back. As we arrived home, I so wanted to get off my bike.  But, given the dismounting problem,  I also so wanted not to have to get off my bike.  The classic approach/avoid conflict. Boy, life’s a beach!

*Einstein on the Beach is an opera in four acts (framed and connected by five “knee plays” or intermezzos), composed byPhilip Glass and directed by theatrical producer Robert Wilson. Not to be confused (as I often do) with: Kafka on the Shore, a 2002 novel by Japanese author Haruki Murakami.



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