I am in the Hamptons.
I hate it here.
I am here because of My Horse Thing; I only ever come here for Horse Thing because Horse Thing is the only thing I do here and the only thing I like here. In the little bubble that is Horse Thing World, I can deal. That’s because, within the bubble, I am surrounded by the same people as always in the uppermost echelon of Horse Thing. But outside the bubble of my competition arena, I am out of my element because the people here are completely non compos mentis.
Before we go on, let’s lay down the facts. What exactly is there in the Hamptons? Well, there isn’t much that you can’t get anywhere else.
There are shops. These shops contain, for the most part, the kinds of obnoxiously high-end merchandise that I’ve never really understood. Think thousand-dollar pairs of sandals that look just like the ones I could get for $15 at Payless (plus a schmancy brand name, of course). I’ve been shopping in East Hampton on a couple of occasions, and the only places I could really afford to stop in were the now-defunct Madewell and a couple of places that still stood as of last year. Shopping in the Hamptons makes me feel about the same as being an 18-year-old equestrian without a hundred-million-dollar-net-worth parent: cheap and low-class, even though, to most of America’s population, I’m not.
Then there are restaurants. Some of them are nice. Most of them are overpriced, the kinds of places where Patrick Bateman from American Psycho would try and fail to get a reservation. They are populated, in turn, by the kinds of people who would call Bateman by the wrong name despite having invited him out for cocktails or dinner or clubbing on multiple occasions. I made the mistake of visiting one such restaurant two years ago for lunch. It was crowded with classic Hamptons women, out to lunch to see and be seen. I ordered the cheapest thing on the menu, a simple wrap. It was tasty. It also cost $26. I was kind of insulted. The service was also abominably condescending and made me feel underdressed.
There are more establishments like the shops and restaurants, of course, but all serve a similar purpose: provide a place to see and be seen for the haves, and a place to feel, well, out-of-place for the have-nots. Keep in mind that, by the vast majority of standards, people who are haves in the normal world are have-nots in the Hamptons. Upper-middle-class gets you nowhere here. If you’re not clear on that, Hamptons Haves will be glad to help you get acclimated.
American Psycho is a lot of things; for one, it is a merciless commentary on ‘80’s Yuppie culture in Manhattan: Wall Street, cocaine, soulless wealth and layer after layer of absolute rubbish. And here we are, 25 years later and 100 miles to the East: the Patrick Batemans of the world are our parents’ age and are settling into the routine of Summering. Women with social lives instead of jobs wait at Starbucks for the same drinks they have at home before heading off to Soul Cycle, a see-and-be-seen fitness franchise (an eerie, topical parallel with Chutney’s description of what she did instead of killing her father in Legally Blonde); men play golf and pay for dinner. This is a twisted, twisted place, because it’s true to all of its stereotypes. Everything you read about the airheaded absurdly wealthy comes to life here. It’s here, it’s a paper town, and it wants its Manolos back.
The Hamptons as I know them are vestigial of exactly the culture American Psycho critiqued in the late 1980s, and since entitled generations make it a tradition to Summer here, I don’t see that fading away from this place any time soon. I also know for a fact that nobody could pay me enough money to unironically use “summer” as a verb. There’s nothing I hate more than condescension, and there’s little I hate more than people with more money than sense. The Hamptons is all of the above, and trust me, it’s not the glorious place it’s cracked up to be.