Summertime on the East End, there are really two types of people, there are the people who live and work out here and then there are the tourists. The tourists, especially the rich ones, go to fancy parties, go out to restaurants and beach it all day. The workers here make their money by fixing up the houses, pools, food, cars and kids for such people. It’s a sort of a delicate balance. You can tell where each group belongs pretty easily.
But when you are in journalism, it’s just the weirdest damn situation, because part of your job is to hang out at these parties and try to fit in, but you’re really just local.
Every once in a while I find myself headed out to a fancy party for work. It feels like work to me, as odd as that sounds, I don’t feel like I fit in at all. I pull into whatever estate I’m driving to, and the guy in front of me is usually driving a Mercedes Benz, and I drive…gulp…a Pontiac Vibe (they don’t even make this car anymore).
My car, when I bought it new, was $17,000. I love my car, but I feel this slight sense of insecurity when I pull into a party.
I then have to shamelessly prove to the person that is in charge of media that I am who I say I am. I don’t don a large white hat and beard like my Dad. I roll up, in my opinion, looking like I belong there, but then sort of quietly go to the press area, where I pray to God I see the person that invited me to go there at the table. If they are, it’s great. But if they aren’t, I’m stuck explaining myself to a girl who is usually around 20 years old, and watched way too much “Sex and the City” when she was a kid.
I always remember to bring my Dan’s Papers business card with me to events. But even then, I’ll be given a quick look that reads, “Are you really just a party crasher or is that business card real?”
I can’t imagine being the type of person that crashes big Hamptons events. I literally do not want to be ANYWHERE that I don’t feel welcome.
Anyway, so usually, I get in, and then I pray to God that I will run into a few people I know. Almost always, it’s a guy who is behind the bar working. Maybe I lifeguarded with him, maybe I went to high school with him. I say, “What’s up?” get a drink, he looks at me like he doesn’t know what to make of me, and then I buzz around.
Usually I see some other people in the media, and try to hang out with them, and then I just stand around, and try really hard to look like I’m not 1. by myself and 2. working.
I take a few pictures and video, I discreetly ask a few people if I can get some quotes from them, and then, with any luck, I can manage to get an interesting conversation going. Usually I can pull this off, it puts me at ease, but then they disappear and I’m left alone again. And I think, “Boy, I’m really a jerk. People pay $1,000 to be here. People would kill to be here. Just to have one second to see so and so. Come on Dave, life is good.”
I psyche myself up a little bit that it could be worse. Have some sort of standard hors d’oeuvre, the thing this year seems to be little mini tacos filled with either tuna or beef, they are damn good, say a few more hellos, say, “Yes I’m David Rattiner, yes, Dan Rattiner is my Dad. Yes, I’m working there now, thanks, yes I’ve been there for about 10 years now, yes it’s fun, you like my column and the blog? Awesome, it’s nice to know people are reading, I really appreciate it. Great party right?”
And then I go home and get to typing, and pray nobody saw the Pontiac.
I really should just shell out a few grand for an old used Mercedes, nobody would be the wiser.