Back at the Ranch

Seeing Kristine’s bare ass was not the highlight of the trip. Last month, when the tale was told, the boys reacted as if it were. But it simply was not. And that’s not because it wasn’t a great ass. It’s because of this…

Every now and then, you just need a long weekend. And back in August of 1991, I just did. And I needed it to be a fun weekend. Not a restful weekend, not romantic, not relaxing. I didn’t need sleep or Psychology Today-type conversation. I needed fun. No, with a capital F. So I knew just who to call: Lucy. Lucy was my fun friend. My dancin’ partner. My concert pal. My tequila body-shots buddy. Let me get drunk, laughed with me, kept an eye on me, then sobered me up at the diner at dawn.

We all need a friend like that.

And Lucy could always get a group of gals together for Fun. Dirty Dancing back in the day fun. Dive bar day-drinking fun. Five gals on Tiana Beach, and me, fun. You get me, right?

I didn’t expect this time to be any different.

So I called Lucy mid-week, and on Thursday, right after work, I was at her house with my candy-apple red Supra, ready to go. She was there with her friend Kristine, who had her copper-red hair up in a pony tail, also ready to go. And Lucy, well I could see her bathing suit peeking out from her cut-off Levi’s and tank-top, so she was clearly ready as well. I put their bags in the back of the car and off we went.

We arrived in West Hampton early in the evening, and the gals dove right into the pool, which left me to bring in the bags. It took a while. Then I put the gals stuff in the first floor bedroom, and went upstairs to mine. I looked out the window…and saw a scene from a movie! There they were, 2 fine gals in bikinis, hitting a beach ball back and forth between them. With all the bouncing that entailed! Well, another man might have lingered and stared. And another man might have snapped pictures. But I knew that this was not meant for my eyes, or anyone’s, and that the gals would be nothing but embarrassed if they saw that I saw them. I closed the blinds and I put away my shirts.

All that pool play must have made the gals hungry. It was close to 8, so we all changed and headed out to Magic’s Pub for burgers. Magic’s had a tiny restaurant in the front, and a large rock club in the back. Not a pub at all. But it served big, cheap burgers, and great, crisp fries. We had a fine dinner, then headed to Casey’s to drink and dance. 

As usual, I danced too little and drank too much at Casey’s. Maybe it was all the buy-backs I always got there. Maybe it was all the tequila followed by salt slurped off of Lucy’s shoulder and out of the kink of Kristine’s elbow. Maybe it was both. But it meant  that at 2 a.m. the gals laid me out in the back seat of the Supra, and Lucy drove to the West Hampton Diner.

What a great diner that was. Glistening, silver aluminum exterior with red, white and blue striping. Sign right out of “Happy Days.” Electric blue booths. Faux-marble Formica tables with aluminum piping. And the food was great. But what I needed that night was coffee. Lots. And I went to the counter to get it.

“Hey, get me a cup too.”

I turned my head to see a provocatively dressed African-American gal speaking to me. She had on a tube-top, striped, and she stretched it to its limits. I hadn’t seen one of those in a while, I remember thinking. She also wore a bunch of turquoise jewelry that played nicely against her cappuccino complexion, and a matching glam metal hair band. She was thin and curvy, quite a combination, and she was talking to ME!

I got an extra cup of coffee and slipped into the booth in front of her. We talked about nonsense…”what brings you out here? What do you do when you’re not doing this?” She was a hair dresser. And she was out visiting friends in Quogue. They were all going to some show the next day that she couldn’t remember the name of. We had a few cups o’ joe together, and my head cleared.

“You have a nice chest” she said casually. Ah, thank you Soloflex, I thought. Then I took a risk.

“So do you” I said softly. She just smiled and blinked. But she stopped talking. For what seemed like forever. Oh, well…

“I better get back to my friends” I said with resignation.

“Those goo-weed gals?” She asked. “You shouldn’t be with them. You’re not like them.”

I was shocked. First, by the butchering of the “guido” appellation, and next by her sizing up my friends as “guidettes” at all. Then, I was guiltily gratified not to have been labeled a guido myself. But ultimately, I was just confused.

“You should come stay with me tonight” she tempted. All confussion cleared. Catholicism, risk aversion, loyalty and sensibility rushed in.

“Nah” I said. “Didn’t you ever hear ‘dance with da’ one dat’ brung ya’?”

She interrupted. “I saw you all at Casey’s: none of y’all are doin’ anything together tonight.”

“I know,” I said as I exited the booth. I grabbed the check in front of my friends, the guidettes, paid, and we all left.

The next morning, we were up bright and early. Noon. Lucy suggested that we drive out to Montauk for the day, and I agreed, as long as she drove and I had veto power on tunes. And the gals agreed. By 1, we were on the road, bagels in tow, with the gals up front and me lounging in the back. We listened to “Graffiti Bridge”: a year old and still kinda’ undiscovered. Then I acquiesced and we did some Madonna. Had to have that in the car in those days, for the gals.

By then we were in Montauk. We noticed that Montauk Highway was lined with parked cars. Lots of people were walking along the road. And traffic had been much heavier than usual for a weekday. We wondered what was going on, but radio reception was pretty nonexistent back then, so the only way to find out was to yell out to a pedestrian.

“Hey, where’s everyone going?” Kristine yelled to a passerby.

“The concert,” he yelled back.

“What concert? Where?” Kristine shot back.

Billy Joel. At the Ranch,” he answered. “How could you not know?”

Yea, how could we not know? But we didn’t! And now our plan for the day changed. We HAD to go. So Lucy took the 1st open spot she saw, and we followed the throng to the ranch. I had never heard of this place, the Deep Hollow Ranch. And as we walked, we learned from our fellow concert-goers that it is the first cattle ranch established in the U.S. and the former camp ground of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. Well wadaya know, I thought.


Kristine’s pin. Photo via Lenny Falcone

When we arrived, we found out that tickets to the show had sold out weeks ago. So we looked around for scalpers: none to be found, surely due to the East Hampton Police, who were everywhere. But neither of these things deterred us. We walked the perimeter of the ranch, looking for a weak spot. The fencing was certainly secure, as were the gates. But there was a wall of port-o-sans with their backs to us, and they had about a 1 foot gap between them. We all eyed that gap, and each other.

“Shit, I can’t fit,” I said.

“This ain’t gettin’ through there.” Kristine pointed at her butt. Ahh, adumbration.

“I can make it,” Lucy insisted. “Wait for me by the front gate.”

We instinctively knew her plan. People were exiting the ranch to patronize the food trucks parked outside, and reentering with their ticket stubs. She was somehow going to get us all stubs!

But I had my doubts. Remember I told you Lucy was a va-va-voom gal? How was that body getting through that space? But damn if she didn’t slide between those pottys like it was nothing. I still don’t know how she did it.

Better yet, not even five minutes later, Lucy came walking out of the front gate with three stubs. Not even five minutes! And how did she do that you ask?

Lucy explained: “I looked for a group of 3 guys lying on their blanket, guys only, who had a big cooler with them. I figured they had everything they needed in the cooler, and wouldn’t have to leave the ranch to get anything to eat or drink. I found them, went over, said ‘hi,’ and asked them for their stubs. I may have leaned forward a bit. They gave me their stubs.”

Oh. Va-va-voom.

Inside the ranch, bales of hay were set up in a semi-circle in front of the stage, and we three took a seat. Rick Ocasek played a long set of Cars’ tunes (memorable) and new material (not memorable). Then Toots Thielemans—yes, the legendary Toots Thielemans—did a short set. And, naturally, he did “Bluesette!” We three did a sort of waltz to that.

Next up was Paul Simon. He stepped out with his black custom Yamaha, concert body, and gave us an hour of Graceland, S&G, and solo hits. He was in fine voice. And I think he brought out Eddie Brickel, although my mind and memory may be playing tricks on me here.

But no trick here: I remember very clearly that he played an extended jam of “Late in the Evening,” because that’s when I saw her. Ooh, I saw her. No raspberry beret, but that same snug tube-top. Guess she packed light. It was now accompanied by split-side running shorts. Her skin was more cafe’ au lait in the sunlight, and her legs went on forever, even in sneakers. I stared a moment, then I walked over. I asked her if she wanted to dance and she said “I wanted us to dance last night.” Then she simply walked away. And as she did, I saw a perfect pear-shaped ass. “Risk and reward,” I thought. I went back to the gals and danced with them.

After a long intermission, and after the last bit of sunlight had departed, Billy Joel stepped onto the stage. The crowd erupted, and he took control. A few songs in, he spoke to the crowd about the Cowboys of Montauk, and then segued into “The Ballad of Billy the Kid.” Then he brought out Toots, and they did an absolutely lovely extended version of “Leave a Tender Moment Alone.” We reprised that pseudo waltz. He breezed through all his hits, skipping his new wave stuff, and even threw in a cover of “You’re So Vain.”

We left exhausted and exhilarated. Also very hungry. The gals wanted salads. Salads? Are you f’in kidding me? After all that, what you want next is salads? I want tacos and a margarita! But…ok. So I pulled into the Amagansett Farm Stand, which, oddly, was still open that late, and we loaded up on ingredients. An hour or so later, back at the house, the gals went to work like old fashioned Italian grandmothers—cleaning the greens, chopping the fruits and veggies, and making a balsamic dressing. I was amazed. Who knew they could do this? And the salad was delicious. I probably ate more of it than the two of them combined. Then I went upstairs to bed.

I woke early for some reason. I headed downstairs, and as I turned into the living room…whoop, there it is! Kristine had fallen asleep on the couch in her tee shirt, and it had ridden up on her. It no longer covered her bottom at all. She was on her side, and I could see that she was an early adopter of the thong. Once again, I was presented with a choice. Should I stay or should I go now?

I tiptoed back upstairs and read ’till I heard the gals stirring in the kitchen. I think they made breakfast too.

Weeks later, we had a party at the house. I introduced Kristine to my boy Claudio. They seemed to hit it off. So I gave him her number. But she was pissed. She said she hardly knew him.

“Did you see how he looked at you?” I asked her. “I did. He’s crazy about you. You should give him a chance.” Thing is, I made that up.

Then, Claudio didn’t call. Jackass. I asked him why, and he said he really didn’t dig the devout Catholic thing. I assumed he was referring to chastity.

“Dude, you got the wrong impression. This is a modern woman. And she’s hot.” I made that shit up too. Just not the hot part. I mean, I had seen things!

So he called her, and they went out. They’ve been together for 25 years and have two beautiful and brilliant kids.

At a party last month, Kristine told the story of sneaking into the Back to the Ranch concert to the boys. Claudio moaned. “I’ve heard this one soo many times. Enough already!”

“Well, there are parts I know you never heard” I said slyly. “It’s been 25 years. I’ve never told a soul. Wanna’ hear?”

I pulled Kristine aside, whispered the full tale in her ear, asked for permission to reveal it after 25 years, and waited.

“God, I sound so scandalous,” Kristine murmured to me. “That may be the most racy I’ve ever been, and I didn’t even know I was! Go ahead…I could use a little color.”

So I told the tale. The pool play, my diner admirer, the goo-weed gal accusation, and, of course, dat ass! The boys slapped their thighs and roared at that last part. Kristine’s face turned as copper-red as her hair: she had color alright! But lost in the salaciousness of the tale, or at least its near salaciousness, was the music, the real highlight of the long, fun weekend I needed badly in the summer of 1991, and most certainly got.