June 28, 2006

Internally Yours

Summer has arrived and with it the plague of dreaded houseguests.

Everyone and their uncle wants to visit the Hamptons, and many are not above inviting themselves. Entertaining guests can be vexing, even if you reside in a lovely home (and we're not talking McMansions here). Entertaining is even more irksome when the lovely home isn't your own. A month ago, I returned from college to live with my parents. At the ripe age of 21, I thought we were finally past locking horns. I was wrong.

Last week, some friends from school stayed at my family's humble abode in Northwest Woods. Their visit, a brief sojourn that lasted a whopping five days (three more than anticipated — they're the kind of company you can't get rid of), incited World War III: My parents swiftly approached Defcon One.

Okay. I'm being hyperbolic. The truth is, after several days of gracious hospitality, the mood shifted and the rentals (that's how my friends and I refer to our parents, especially when we feel like giving them back) grew impatient. How could I tell? I used the bagels as a barometer to gauge the severity of my circumstance.

You see, I knew things were copasetic as long as my mom — the ultimate hostess — set out a breakfast basket brimming with baked goods for my guests, who avow that a night at the Harris House is like a vacation at the Four Seasons (I'm not sure this is a good thing). Unlike the Four Seasons, however, the Harris House is not properly equipped for wayward adventurers. The problem? Too many people, too few beds. Harris the Honorary Hamptonite (that's what my friends have kindly dubbed me) was initially at a loss for a solution. Then it came to me. It took some coercing, but the boys eventually agreed to share the sleeper couch in the finished basement if I promised not to tell anyone. "Of course, it can stay between us," I said.

I'm quite trustworthy.

Why, you might ask, with the sleeping situation sorted out, did my accommodating mother and easygoing father lose their cool? I suspect it had something to do with the beach incident. According to my suburban friends, East Enders, particularly those of the Hamptons variety, live a charmed life in a utopian place, barred from the horrors of the real world. At least that's what they thought until the tide washed away their illusions and their car.

Now, I know building bonfires on local beaches is prohibited, and generally I'm a law-abiding citizen, but every so often I, too, succumb to social pressures. Seduced by the prospect of s'mores, I agreed to do the unthinkable. We drove my buddy's car onto the sand with the intent of starting a small, contained fire on which to roast decadent, chocolate treats. Hold on — I have nothing against those darn piping plovers, okay?! But we'll let that issue rest. That's last year's news anyway, especially since the baby plovers are expected to fledge before the Fourth.

I've never been very good at breaking rules. I'm a horrible liar and when I try to do something slightly underhanded it inevitably goes awry. This night was a case in point. In spite of my warnings, my overeager classmates parked too close to the water and learned, first hand, that although the Hamptons is a majestic place, it's not exempt from Mother Nature's wrath. Hours of digging ensued and the truck's tires only grew more stubbornly stuck. All the while, the waves whispered portents of doom. Soon, the truck would be gone. When AAA won't come at 1 a.m., there is, regrettably, only one thing to do . . . call your dad.

The next morning, there were no bagels.

The moral of the story? I owe my parents big. The Harris House may be a nice place to stay, but the inn is currently occupied . . . for awhile.

Erin Harris is a senior at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, where she studies English and Theater. She is an East Hampton Resident and a second-year intern at The Independent.

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