The Airing of Grievances

Congratulations! Mazel tov! You’ve made it through another summer on the east end. You’ve coped with the traffic. You’ve dealt with the lines at Citarella. You muddled through the heat wave. You survived the onslaught of Airbnb renters who don’t know their way around. You’ve laundered forty loads of beach towels and UPSed three boxes of forgotten tennis shoes, phone chargers and toiletry bags to your departed houseguests.

We can breathe a collective sigh of relief. We’ve made it to Tumbleweed Tuesday.

I don’t know about you, but I’m cracking open that bottle of pink champagne one of our dinner guests brought us back in June. Back when I was still excited about the prospect of summer. Back when I thought this would be the year I would finally perfect my golf swing. Back before I waited in a forty-five-minute line at Goldberg’s and all they had left were whole wheat everything flagels. Whole wheat everything flagels are the worst kind of bagel.

No, I did not serve that rosé brut to my dinner guests, but instead saved it for the cool reprieve of September.

As I sip my champagne, I would like to take a moment to reflect on my summer. I want to shake out any bad feelings that might have occurred before I start fresh with a fabulous fall season of copious parking spaces and smaller crowds at restaurants. I want to get some things off my chest. I want to air some grievances.

You may remember the holiday of Festivus celebrated by the characters in Seinfeld. According to the television show, Festivus is observed on December 23rd with a dinner where they air their grievances and ends with feats of strength. Those of us living in the Hamptons could celebrate our own Festivus on the Wednesday after Labor Day. It could be a holiday where we can sit on our back porches (or decks, or dens – a favorite spot in your now-quiet house), drink the alcohol generously gifted by our houseguests (do not purchase it yourself!), and complain about our summers. I don’t think we need to end it with feats of strength. It’s a feat of strength to choke down a whole wheat everything flagel.

Let’s call this holiday “Whinging Wednesday.”

I’ll start.

Grievance No. 1: I’m beginning to resent the mobile orders at Starbucks. I go to Starbucks every day and order an iced venti non-fat latté. Because I care about the environment, I bring my own cup and I can’t place a mobile order. Despite the fact that my driving to Starbucks each day probably negatively outweighs any environmental benefit I provide by drinking from a reusable cup, I still think I shouldn’t have to wait for the barista to make all of the virtual orders before my physical order. I drag my butt (and cup) in there and tolerate the crowds before I’ve had my first cup of coffee. Why should I wait for people who are literally phoning it in?

Grievance No. 2: Why don’t more people return their carts to the supermarket? This is a question I ask myself each time I nearly hit one as I swing into a parking spot.

How much time do you lose by returning the shopping cart to the front of the grocery store? Not much. It’s really not a big inconvenience and you get a little extra exercise. Your heart rate will increase by jogging that cart back. Don’t worry about sweating, you’re probably already wearing your workout clothes.

I get it. We’re busy. We’re stressed. We’ve got guests coming for the weekend and one is vegetarian, and another doesn’t eat dairy. Also, they said they were arriving in the afternoon but surprise! They decided to leave New York City early. But I swear, it only takes two minutes to return the cart, and your guests have already made themselves comfortable poolside. They will not miss you for those two minutes. They’ll assume the traffic was bad, and they’ll be correct.

Grievance No. 3: I’m finding it very difficult to open packages of cheese. It takes diamond-coated scissors to open up a vacuum-packed block of Boar’s Head gruyere. I have to put on slice-proof protective sleeves before I emancipate the bigger-than-my-head chunk of Jarlsberg I picked up at the Costco. I shouldn’t need titanium body armor just to make a damn cheese plate for our vegetarian guest.

It’s also hard to remove that thin film of plastic they put on containers of olives. It has a tab so you can peel it off, but that never works. I end up stabbing it with a steak knife, à la Murder on the Orient Express, forcing our dairy-free guest to munch on mutilated olives.

It may be the bubbly talking, but I am enjoying my Whinging Wednesday holiday. These are admittedly petty problems and should by no means be the first things the human race should tackle to improve our lives. But sipping champagne on the back porch while partaking in a proper bitch-fest is not a bad way to spend a Wednesday evening.

With my frustrations vented, I am ready for the coming season. It’s still warm out. I still have time to work on my golf swing. I can face the Goldberg’s line anew. And trust me, I will not be getting the whole wheat everything flagel.

East Hampton Press, September 4, 2019

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