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Mathilda, the Algonquin's cat. She isn't FAT. She's just...PLUSH.

THIS WEEK I will nutshell a few of the THOUSAND things I wanted to tell you on the blog this week, but could not, because I was on retreat and the internet was spotty and my technology was obstreperous and recalcitrant and vexatious and obdurate and many many other fifty cent words that I am using here in lieu of the HIDEOUS REAMS OF PROFANITY I actually used to describe the technology (and its mother) when I was trying to get a blog entry up alllllllllllllllllll this last week.

You’re welcome.

We were at this East Hampton beach house that Karen Abbott rented, and it was pretty perfect. Sara and I met up for a late dinner with Susan Rebecca White (on a research trip in NYC), and I ended up crashing at Sara’s hotel because my plane got in SO late. Stupid weather.

It is fun to pretend to feel a world-worry ennui and droop across chaise lounges at the Algonquin, pre-beach, whispering PURELY obnoxious things to each other in our best Old Money accents— “August is just UNGODLY here in the city. Let’s head out to the Hamptons. Should we take the Jitney out there? Or the helicopter?”— and then giggling like loons.


Bigger truth: We took the Jitney. I was unwilling to mortgage my house to pay the helicopter fare.

Observation: Only fronting redneck tourists who are playing at silly rabbits (and who have seen sex and the city) seem to say THE HAMPTONS. People who actually go there just say the one they mean— East or Bridge or whatever.

Greater observation: If one is sitting in the lobby of the Algonquin, playing with Mathilda and having a decent human cocktail while waiting for Jitney 0’Clock, it is a LOT more fun to swan your hair about like Carrie Bradshaw and relentlessly say THE HAMPTONS in snobby accents back and forth to each other.

Other truth: A Jitney is a secret NYC word that means bus. It is called a Jitney because WHAT kind of New Yorker New Yorker wants to admit to riding a bus? Hint: NOT the kind that spends weekends in the Hamptons. ALSO perhaps it means a SUPER bus with plush seats and DVD players that has a stewardess who brings wine and coffee and newspapers.

People kept trying to tell me things I had to go and do and see and look at, because how often is one in the Hamptons? but the truth is, I spent 80% of the time in my pajamas, staring at purely imaginary landscapes and sucking the ends of my hair like a mental patient.

The WORST part was when we got terribly attacked by hornets. Morning two I woke up to find Sara had posted this sign on the bathroom door.

The toilet hornet was a HARBINGER!

After him, then there was a steady STREAM of hornets zooming about in threatening ways.

At one point, Karen, in a hornet fueled RAGE, whipped off her shoe and spun about like some kind of black-haired ninja-ette, WHANGING her flower-toe flip flop about with vigorous precision. She killed FOUR HORNETS in less than two seconds—it was like a scene out of Kill Bill with a whole bunch of hornets playing the part of Lucy Liu.

Last night there, we did drive up to Montauk and eat a lot of crustaceans, drink bourbon sidecars, and watch the sea preen itself as it got all infested with glorious sunsettiness . Little bit of a show-off, that sea.

I got a lot of book done, ate a lot of beautiful things, drank too much, hung out with my posse, and didn’t get stung.

Not a bad week.

I ate this at MOMA. It was beautiful to eat. A+++. Would Eat Again.

12 comments to Pre-Nutshell

  • JulieB

    I love to read your retreat posts! You have wonderful traveling adventures.

    Question (off topic-ish): Did you feel unsatisfied with Lucy Liu’s death in Kill Bill? I still have mixed feelings about that visually. I don’t know, maybe it was too predictable, but I really thought that her costume was the gun in the room, and required flowering bloody rose from a fatal gut or heart wound, rather than the way it played out. Did that bother you?

  • Elizabeth

    Not all New Yorkers live at the Algonquin, you know.

  • Julie — I honestly do not remember how she died? Did her head pop off? I remember snow. Or petals. Something…and it being very white.

    Elizabeth, I think Mathilda is actually the ONLY NYer who lives there. 😀

  • What fun! (Well, except for the hornets!) With all of the writers in New York and those passing through, I cannot believe I just missed you! My husband and I went to NY without the kids and though we did not stay at the Algonquin, I made him find it with me AND have a “decent cocktail” in the Algonquin’s lounge. Bourbon=breakfast of champions. So I channeled my inner Dorothy Parker, had a Manhattan in Manhattan and had a lovely time after that BUT I missed Joshilyn Jackson in the lobby. *sigh*

  • DebR

    Now I feel the need to re-watch Kill Bill. If I recall correctly (admittedly a BIG “if” these days!!) I think Lucy’s demise came at the end of a sword fight in the snow with Uma Thurman. Lucy was shocked in the moment of her death to realize that Uma really did have a super-sword made by the super-sword-making dude (whose name I don’t even pretend to remember) because even though Uma tried to warn Lucy that she was so-armed, Lucy thought she was just doing some empty bragging. Nope. Super-sword = chopped off Lucy-head in the snow. I was fine with it, Julie, but then again I don’t remember her costume so if it had been the gun in the room I’d have missed it until it went off. Heh.

    That plate of food is art. The green stuff looks cabbage-y and I don’t DO cabbage, but that’s so pretty I’d have to try it if it was sitting in front of me!

    Can’t wait to hear the rest of the adventures!

  • Do not speak to me of hornets. When I was a kid, we visited one of the most gorgeous national parks you can imagine, thinking ourselves mightily fortunate to secure a camping site on a busy long weekend. Ha! Hornets up the wazoo. We did not escape unstung. My father was the dervish in that case, the weapon the tea towel.

  • Oh, PS: glad you had such a fun and productive week.

  • D

    6 baby shrimp & some badly done cole slaw??
    That better’a tasted good!

  • OMG it tasted GREAT; that little salad with the shrimp is nto cole slaw—it had all this fantastic CHEESE in it– also, I shoudl have said it was an appetizer, because you are right, it is small. After i had grilled fish and veggies on a bed of gouda grits 🙂

  • ROFL — I read the hornet sign as this:


    And I was like, is AMAD ASSA a hornet breed? A special NY hornet breed? Or is AMAD ASSA a special, possibly Islamic way to say CAUTION or WARNING? As in, picture the ninja leaping out of the bush to save you from the rattlesnake and it says AMAD ASSA! (you have to pronounced the A as AH otherwise it sounds like a ninja from Kalamazoo)

    Then I realized it was stars. And felt sad.

  • JulieB

    Ah! I missed the responses because I was working on my syllabi and was on a self-imposed internet ban until they were done.

    But yes, DebR has it right, except it was the top of her head that was chopped off. Perhaps her long dark tresses were the gun in the room…? Anyway, I was fixated on the white costume in the white snow. Now I must re-watch too. My husband will be happy to hear this. 🙂

    @ Lydia, I read the note exactly the same way.

  • JMixx

    Oh, you brave, brave warrior! To face down hornets! Had I been faced with hornets, there would have been running and screaming. The last time I went to stay in a cabin at a campground (which is my idea of camping, thankyouverymuch!) I was almost chased out of the game room by what I can only imagine as the Mother of All Hornets. It was a chocolate-brown monster about three inches long and easily two inches in diameter (honestly! go on a diet, hornet fatso!). Fortunately it was mostly-captured in a spider’s web; the spider was being *very* circumspect, as I recall. Its apparent immobilization was the only reason I did not abandon the 75 cents I had fed the pool table for a game, and flee to my hornet-free cabin. I still haven’t figured out what bloody sort of hornet grows that d@mn huge in this country.

    Before you scoff at me for fleeing a mere insect, let me mention that I am allergic to bee stings, so just the idea of being stung by a hornet makes me start to get puffy.