Sweet tea, sushi & shirtless karaoke

Ocean Beach, New York

Fire Island, a thin barrier island just south of Long Island, has a permanent population of just 491 people. Each summer, that number swells as tens of thousands of visitors arrive here — primarily by a 25-minute ferry from Bay Shore. This holiday weekend was no exception.

Several buddies of mine rented a house in the largest town, Ocean Beach, this month. Since I’d already planned on returning to New York for the 4th, it was hard to turn down an invite for a long weekend of relaxing on the beach, grilling meat and drinking beers. According to no less an authority than my Mom, this was my second trip to Fire Island. We took a family visit here back in the day. I’ve got a feeling that this weekend was a tad bit different though.

Ocean Beach is a tiny community with one commercial drag of restaurants and bars. No cars are allowed on the island, giving it a relaxed feel, at least until night falls. As would be expected, prices of everything — from Gatorade to toilet paper (essentials) — are astronomical. Houses sit on small lots; our neighbor, who was less than thrilled upon our arrival, quickly let us know that he could hear everything from his living room, about 15 feet from ours.

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Far too much transpired over the next several days to be relayed here. But we certainly had more than our fair share of sushi, sweet tea, shirtless karaoke, encounters with politicians, mermaids and multiple games of Dirty Harry pinball — even a couple of noise complaints.

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Which is to say, it was a completely normal weekend.

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