Hitchhiking around Long Island…gay Argentinian men…hypnotists…and some solid local folks

The other day I was on an adventure that demanded eight ferry crossings and, among other things, a spot of hitchhiking.  Leaving the car at Sag Harbor was something of a no brainer, from an economic perspective at least, if not a logistical one.  Only thing was, doing so meant that I’d have to hitchhike my way four miles up Shelter Island and some nine miles along the north fork to Orient Point, its easternmost tip.  “And how did it go?” I hear you wonder.

It was a searing hot Monday afternoon and I had a grating hangover after an overindulgent Sunday session.  Trundling off the south ferry onto Shelter Island with my golf bag over one shoulder and a heavily stocked laptop bag over the other, in my flip flops, I began to sweat profusely.  This, I thought, was a good thing - the alcohol would evaporate from me, and any pain could be looked upon as penance for my sins of the night prior.  But after 500 yards I was starting to question my own wisdom as the blisters started to open up.

Thankfully help appeared in the form of David, a well fed, hairy Argentinian man in a little black Smartcar.  I said I was heading north and - despite the fact that there was hardly room in the car for a hamster let alone me with all my luggage - he invited me to hop in.  As the pleasantries were exchanged something odd happened.  David’s arm had fallen next to my own, in the middle bit above the handbrake.  Not only did it fall there; it stayed there; and even worse, he started rubbing my arm with his, testing the waters or so it seemed.  I withdrew, but did so in a manner so as not to seem rude!  I edged away.  But his arm followed.  So the pursuit continued for a few more seconds until my arm was back on my lap and it was quite clear I had different intentions to him.  A mile later, and I was let out at the intersection he was taking off down to the beach.  Another hitch in store, but I was not distressed to be getting out.

Again I trundled, again I sweated.  Those BBCs that had slid down so easily at Cyril’s were now once more making their presence known, this time as an eau de toilette teaming off me.  Even my palms were soaking.  What a miracle it was then that two lovely sisters - whose names now escape me - picked me up just half a mile later.  They were local gals who’d summered on Shelter Island since they were girls; and the older of the two had just opened her first restaurant two days prior on it.  The north ferry wasn’t on their way anywhere but they were only too glad to zip me up there in their little mini.  The conversation flowed and no one touched my arm (although this time I wouldn’t have minded…).  A lovely pair of souls they were.

Greenport to Orient Point was going to prove a trickier affair altogether.  At nine miles or so it would be one hell of a walk if no one took pity on me.  A Tall Ships festival was on in the town that day, and the buses weren’t running as far as I could see, so I put the head down - actually, kept it up - and wandered north to the highway east.  Rescue was beginning to seem like an unlikely prospect, a mile or so down the road, when all of a sudden my luck changed.  Nancy, a salt of the earth dental assistant who’d recently lost her job, pulled over and took me under her wing.  Again, my destination wasn’t on her route, but she thought nothing of the extra ten miles.  It turned out Nancy had cousins in NZ she’d never visited; NZ connections around here are more prevalent than I would have expected.  She had me at the New London ferry with ten minutes to spare; I gave her my Facebook and blog details; and we said we’d keep in touch.  I hope we do.

The most remarkable of my drivers I think, though, was one Arthur Lee Daniel - the chap who took me from my hotel the following morning to my fourth ferry.  Granted, he was a taxi driver, but I’m throwing him into this blog entry nonetheless.  Art was hugely overweight with a moustache and had a jovial personality to go with it.  A high voice too.  He’d been in the navy and travelled all around the world; and when I asked him where he’d been, he rattled off just about every country in the United Nations.  Rome, apparently, was his favourite.  None of this is particularly remarkable, though.  What I got a kick out of his follow up to a perfectly innocent question: “so what do you do when you’re not playing golf?”  I explained as briefly as I could, but all the time got the impression that he wasn’t really listening.  (It can be difficult to explain but I thought, on this occasion at least, I’d done a good job of packaging it in a consumer friendly fashion).  And this was why: “Oh that’s interesting.  Do you guys ever have any parties?”  JP: “well, not really…but…”.  “OK well if you do, I’m also a hypnotist, and I like to travel so…if you guys want to throw something together down in New Zealand, and want a bit of entertainment, then keep me in mind…here’s my card…the US Navy has had me out to Hawaii before and it was great!”  Wow.  I better tell my fellows back home that if they’re throwing a party and need a hypnotist, Art’s their guy.  Fly him out from New York, no issue. 

For anyone interested, please see Art’s website.

Postscript:  On my way home from this little adventure I landed on Shelter Island at 10pm on a Tuesday night.  I wandered down Highway 117 under dark of night and, surprise surprise, no one picked me up!  It was another long, sweaty walk south to the south ferry - 3.5 miles to be precise!  I managed to catch the last (11.45pm) ferry just in the nick of time.  And slept well when my head hit the back seat of the van ten minutes later!

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