An adventure with a madcap Russian and Gloria Steinham? Just another day in the Hamptons.
The Hamptons is a divisive place but I love it and I'll be schlepping there the minute Memorial Day Weekend starts (ie: now). Yes, there's traffic -- so find shortcuts. Yes, it's a nightmare to get into Nick and Toni's -- so don't go. Yes, Martha Stewart is around every corner and every wall is wainscoted to hell but I don't have a problem with that.
I've rented the same little beach shack for 12 years and to me the Hamptons means the beach and American Flags and magnificent colors everywhere and Sam's Pizza and the Snowflake and Cromer's Market and grilling everything.
Most of all, the Hamptons to me means I get to hang out with Bill Persky. Bill is more than just dad to Andy's Blog regular Liza, he's a TV legend who created "That Girl" and "Kate and Allie" and was a freaking writer (along with his partner Sam Denoff) of "The Dick Van Dyke Show". That is a BIG deal in case you are a bonehead and don't realize that. (And if you are a bonehead why are you reading this blog, by the way? This is for ADVANCED types so please click to the "Blow Out" page of Bravotv.com and go crazy.) Bill also happens to be one of those rare people who has life all figured out. He's a seventysomething guy who'll feed you lunch (great cook), take you out on his sailboat, tell you showbiz stories and repeat it all when it's time for dinner. He takes in stray people and always has an extra seat at the table (unless he hates you.) He's also funny as hell. And he has a hot wife named Joanna who makes me devilled eggs every time I visit. (I love 'em!)
I could fill the whole website up with madcap stories of Perskys and stray deers and Chinese Chicken Salad and Goldie Hawn but there was one specific night a few years ago that I'm thinking about on this Memorial eve. I'll get killed for this, but I can't for the life of me remember what Bill cooked that night. Perhaps it was Shrimp Remoulade. It might've been Chilean Sea Bass. I don't know but it was great. The night was a lot of laughs and around the time we were packing it in, somehow it was suggested (I am pretty sure That Girl was the culprit) that I would "run" Mr. Posner and wife to where they were staying in Southampton. I happened to hear this in the background and started to freak. It is not fun or quick to "run" someone from Shelter Island to Southampton on a Saturday night. And by the way what in the hell was I going to say to Vladdy Posner for the interminable car ride? I was getting myself together to head to Shelter Island for a Persky dinner when Bill called. "Phil and Marlo are coming and I need you to give them a ride," he said. "Pick them up at the dock in Sag Harbor. See you at 7:30, darling." He calls guys "darling" sometimes. (He's Old School Straight.)
I was on the dock at the appointed hour with my used Honda eagerly waiting to take That Girl to That Guy's dinner. I was feeling a little skittish about Evelyn (my hand-me-down car from my mom that was full of sand) when I suddenly notice the Mount Rushmore of the women's movement approaching my car. I discover I am not only giving Phil (!) and Marlo (!) a "ride" but Glo Steinem (whaaaa) and her hubby (double whaaa) are joining as well. "Ok kids, cram into the Honda, it's only a short Ferry ride to Shelter Island," I promise. Phil calls shotgun and is stag with me while That Girl and the Steinems gamely cram in the backseat. As we wait in the line to get onto the ferry, Marlo asks how long it usually takes to do the whole ferry thing. I assure her that there is never a line and that we'll be in Persky territory in the blink of an eye. Phil flips down the visor to cover the sun in his eyes and comes face to face with my "You're HOT STUFF" sticker pasted onto the mirror. Classy! The left side of the sticker picks that moment to detach itself from the visor so Phil spends a few seconds trying to re-apply it to the surface. "Oh Lord take me out of this particular situation," I implore.
I sped to our destination and we were greeted at the dock by the Perskys and that madcap Russian Vladimer Posner. It was clear from the guestlist that Liza and I were destined to be the "kids" of the night, which was absolutely perfect for us. Marlo thought we were a wonderful couple and took our pics. Bill outed me about a second later. I cornered Joanna in the kitchen and freaked out. "Please don't make me take Vladimir Posner to Southampton. I don't think I can take it. I still kind of don't get who he even is and me so tired," I pleaded. "And then am I going to have to come back to get Glo and Co.? What is happening to me?" "Billy," she said in a thick and quick Southern Drawl, and pulled him into their pantry. When that lady says "Billy" you duck and cover because plans are afoot. This is when the Bill-is-a-good-guy thing comes into play. "It's settled," Bill announced. "Vladimir, you don't want to schlep all the way to Southampton tonight. It will be miserable. The guest house is yours. We'll continue our conversation in the morning. It'll be fun". There was light negotiation and then it was over. Vladdy was sleeping over. I was saved. I packed the Free to Be crew into Evelyn and we cruised the winding roads towards the ferry.
My passengers were tired. I was quietly quizzing Phil about his show, it seemed like That Girl had cutely dozed off. Alongside her, Glo and hubby cozied up in the backseat. I pulled up to the ferry and there was a massive backup -- at least a 20 minute wait. I heard the unmistakeable voice of a very awake Marlo: "I thought there was never a wait for the ferry, Andy." At that moment I started wishing that I was driving my bf Vladdy to Southampton because I didn't want to be responsible for cramming a bunch of legends into my tincan for a midnight wait for a ferry that I had no faith was coming. Who wants to make Marlo wait? And what about the Man who gave birth to Dame Oprah? Want that hanging over your head?
When I got home the phone was ringing. It was my fellow "kid" Liza wanting a full report. "By the way, I think my dad and Vladdy are making popcorn," she laughed. Who knows what's in store this summer on Shelter Island.