Giving Bad Directions in Sag Harbor

Sag Harbor has turned me into a liar. Like a compulsive gambler who puts himself on a casino banned list, the only way I can quash my behavior is to ban myself from this quaint little East End enclave until further notice. Accordingly, I’m writing this as notification to the Village of Sag Harbor and also as an apology to all those who I have recently wronged.

It all started last Saturday. I intended to grab a bite to eat, do a little shopping, kick around town and enjoy all that Sag has to offer.

When a nice young lady dressed in sweats approached me and asked how to get to Uptown Pilates, I was glad to give directions. Of course, she couldn’t remember what I told her, so she had to write it down. And after searching in the bottom of her purse for a pen for what seemed like an eternity, she finally found one. Unfortunately, it was out of ink. After borrowing one from another passerby, she finally got the directions written down and bid me a fond adieu. An hour later, another person approached me looking for directions. As the day progressed, the lost souls did not stop coming and they didn’t stop asking for directions. Do I have a sign on my forehead that reads “Free Directions Here?”

If you don’t believe me, stand on a Sag Harbor street corner in the middle of a summer weekend and tell me this isn’t what happens on a regular basis.

If I hate being asked for directions—why don’t I stay away from the hustle and the bustle on the weekends? The answer is simple—I won’t stop doing what I love just because others can’t take the time to buy a map.

That night when I got home, after having spent a good portion of the day directing lost souls, I turned on the television. CNN was profiling an event that’s held each year in a remote pub in England’s Lake District. It is The World’s Greatest Liar Contest. Contestants had only five minutes to spin their yarn and tell their lies. Politicians and lawyers are barred from entry because they would have a distinct advantage.

And this is where my life started to spiral out of control. What if I just lied to anyone who asked directions? That would teach them. At the same time, might it turn an unbearable situation into fun?

Eager to take my idea out for a spin, the very next day I headed back out to Sag. Surely there would be lost people on Sunday, right? Sure enough, before the clock struck noon I had my first sucker-fish on the line. It was a well-dressed couple that, if I had to guess, was from Manhattan. With his wife by his side, the gentleman asked if I could point them in the direction of the American Hotel. “I’m so sorry sir, but that was bought out recently by a group of Chinese businessman. It’s now named the Chinese Hotel,” I responded. A while passed and then a nice man asked if I knew where the Whaling and Historical Museum was located. “I would not recommend it,” I responded. “There are more than 500 people waiting in line right now to see its tattoo exhibit.”

And when a family stopped and asked if very small children were allowed on the Long Wharf, I said, “Oh yes, and they are 50% off the entrance price of only $10 per person.”

There were a couple more inquiries followed by a couple more whoppers. As the sun started to set over the harbor, I packed up my bag of lies and headed home.

Back home, once again, I sat back in my recliner and turned on the television. CNN was interviewing a psychologist who had just written a book about the decline of civility in America. It was as if the author was talking directly to me. What have you done, Mr. Sneiv?

At that moment, I realized that I had lost my way. I thought about that couple that was probably hungry and on their way back to Manhattan. The man who would miss out on seeing a great piece of history and a family that skipped a leisurely stroll on the Wharf.

How does one undo this? What should my punishment be?

After deep contemplation, I decided that the appropriate punishment would be a period of self-banishment. But I love Sag. And it’s not that I don’t like visitors. I realize they are vital for the economy. I do think that Sag should have volunteers walking around, identifying themselves as “Official Direction Givers.”

My name is Mr. Sneiv. I’m a recovering liar. It’s been five days, three hours and 16 minutes since I told my last lie.

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