With summer here, the city’s frenzied annual migration is in full swing. Like flocks of geese fleeing icy Arctic winds, New Yorkers exhibit a particular dread of being stuck in the city on a summer weekend. And so rather than allow themselves to relax and enjoy one of the world’s greatest cities, they launch themselves into a frenzy of going and spending.
If you want to learn how to screw up a perfectly delightful weekend, observe the New Yorker in his or her natural summer habitat—the beaches of the Hamptons, the Jersey Shore and Cape Cod; the leafy hills of Litchfield County; the mountains of the Catskills and Berkshires. There you will find your New Yorker, most often with a glazed expression, disheveled appearance and an empty wallet.
Which is no surprise, when you consider what he’s been through: several hours stuck in traffic, first perhaps on the Long Island Expressway, then idling in a line of expensive cars choking the streets of the adorable little town he’s “summering” in. When he does finally arrive at his house, he barely has time for a sip of water before he has to get back in the car and fight his way to an overcrowded restaurant where the food is a distant second compared to Manhattan fare. The next morning, there’s no time to waste: The house, rarely occupied, is basically falling apart—so it’s time to repair the plumbing, wiring, heating, air-conditioning, sprinkler system, tennis court, pool. Finally, late in the day, he has time for a nice cocktail on the patio—sipped while swatting giant black flies and buzzing mosquitoes and totting up the day’s expenses. The next morning, it’s time to hop back into the car and beat the traffic back to the city. And once he finally does get home to his wonderful air-conditioned apartment, he finds a deer tick has taken up residence on his leg. By the time September finally rolls around, the prospect of not having to leave town for the weekend fills him with unexpected and immeasurable relief.
Indeed, New Yorkers who stay home on summer weekends discover a marvelous new city beckoning behind the one they usually inhabit: The sidewalks are empty, the parks are at their peak of lushness and the best restaurants always have a table. And when something breaks, just call the super.