In mid-March, eight days after Arielle Charnas used her connection to a celebrity doctor in New York City to score a hotly coveted coronavirus test and confirm she was indeed infected, the influencer and founder of the Something Navy lifestyle brand fled to her weekend rental in Southampton, en famille and avec nanny. To commemorate her deliverance, she did what any grateful Hamptonite would do: she posed for a (since deleted) selfie in artfully draped sweats in front of her pool.
“Fresh air,” she wrote to her 1.3 million followers. Never mind the teeming millions stuck in Cuomoland who had done their civic duty and sheltered in place. As any New Yorker knows, those who populate the Hamptons on a part-time basis do not play by the rules. But while outraged reporters in the New York Post called out Charnas for her dangerous violation of her 14-day quarantine, her neighbors Out East had a more urgent question: How in hell did she get her pool opened in March—when the service companies have been forbidden from doing so?
’Tis the Season
Thanks to the coronavirus, “the season” has arrived early in the Hamptons. Which means that, this year, bad behavior has also arrived early—and made for a beautiful collision of entitlement and new social guidelines. You may have heard some of the early reports, such as the Wall Streeter who dropped $8K at upscale grocery Citarella. Or the guy who was so hell-bent on fleeing New York that he paid $2 million to lock down a last-minute rental for his family. Or how George Stephanopoulos—who is recovering from the coronavirus—strolled through East Hampton with his mask off. Or how Chris Cuomo violated his quarantine and was seen in public. When confronted, Cuomo shot back, “I can do what I want!” This spring, bad behavior is blooming like algae in Georgica Pond.
Out here, the question of which businesses do and do not qualify as “essential” has always been murky, even in non-plague times. (Honey, is it really essential that we hire John Legend to perform at Junior’s 13th-birthday party?)
Officially, maintenance for pools that are already open (i.e., primarily indoor versions) is permitted; reopening those that were winterized last fall is forbidden. Landscaping companies are similarly restricted: routine activities like tick spraying are approved, but planting new flower beds is not. And in the land of social climbing, “social distancing” has been re-interpreted. Extra-curricular activities for children have been largely canceled, but as this is the epicenter of parents who never take no for an answer when it comes to their kids (and also getting their “me time”), those in the know are ignoring social-distancing guidelines in order to get their kids into $100-an-hour tennis lessons at East Hampton Indoor Tennis, as well as Buckskill Tennis Club.
In the land of social climbing, “social distancing” has been re-interpreted.
Under normal circumstances, the relationship between full- and part-timers is cordial, if occasionally strained by summer-specific issues like traffic jams and inflated produce prices. It is, after all, a symbiotic relationship where “seasonals” inject great scores of cash into the bloodstreams of these towns. But things feel more tense as some locals openly blame Manhattanites for the spread of the coronavirus in the community.
Tensions might be most palpable in grocery stores, one of the last vestiges of public life where New Yorkers still mix with townies. Many locals now find themselves dealing with black card–wielding hoarders. As of press time, the IGA in Amagansett was nearly out of everything from staples like milk and eggs to … staples of another level: LaCroix sparkling water and Talenti gelato. The aisles of the pint-size Stop & Shop in East Hampton are especially fraught. A thirtysomething Manhattanite friend accidentally bumped against an older local, who promptly exploded: “Entitled New Yorkers! Go back to the city!”
The Crème de la Crème
This being the Hamptons, no one (of means) is going hungry. Sure, Nick & Toni’s is shuttered, but you can pick up a roasted market catch from them, curbside. And many chefs from the city have followed the money. Mario Carbone and his Major Food Group, which owns Carbone, Dirty French, and the Lobster Club, sent an e-mail offering at-home chef services in the Hamptons. (Pricing was available only upon request.) Eataly delivers grocery boxes in the rear parking lot of Carissa’s the Bakery. For $500 each—no substitutions, please—you’ll receive pear juice flown in from Piedmont, pesto lasagna, Wagyu zabuton from Snake River Farm, and prosciutto that was aged for 18 months and comes with more certifications than your BMW.
And don’t worry: there’s a vegan option. Natoora, the high-end purveyor of fiddlehead ferns and other Insta-worthy produce favored by Michelin-starred restaurants, is servicing the East End for a $100 minimum order, topped off with a $45 delivery fee. They’ll even bring out natural wines and meads, a type of fermented honey wine that was all the rage in antiquity, from Honey’s, a hipster bar in Brooklyn.
You may have heard of the Wall Streeter who dropped $8K at upscale grocery Citarella.
When East Enders do venture out willingly, there’s really only one place to go: the great outdoors. The ocean beaches are getting the usual amount of foot traffic, but the hot spots these days are not the beaches; they are the hiking trails. Under normal circumstances, they’re largely overlooked by tick-fearing weekenders, but that particular bug now looks relatively innocuous by comparison.
Safety is encouraged with signs from the state—Be smart, stay six feet apart—but they’re largely unnecessary. Hamptonites, after all, are masters in the art of keeping one’s distance. Yet, the see-and-be-seen factor remains. On a recent hike in Hither Hills, I ran into a fashion-industry friend from Manhattan. After trading the usual pleasantries, during which I admired her not-even-remotely faded highlights, she looked over her shoulder and whispered, “Have you heard about the dermatologist in Southampton who is making house calls for Botox?”
Ashley Baker is the Style Editor for AIR MAIL