My younger brother by two years (he’s 28) had his first foray into Fire Island, NY last year where he met his girlfriend of one year to date. He went in on house share as everyone does and tried to convince me to come out and join him and his friends all summer. It never happened. It wasn’t until this past weekend that I begrudgingly made the trek, which was helped in part by the fact that it was my birthday weekend and my house share costs (about $250 for the weekend) would be covered. And what I found, my friends, is a singles paradise unlike anything else on the east coast and possibly anywhere in the U.S. for that matter.
I drove out from Manhattan Friday afternoon and took the ferry across with my brother to Fire Island, where there are no cars. Instead there are deer, large deer with serious antlers who have nowhere to hide the 0.1 mile wide stretch by Ocean Bay Park where we were staying. This, along the with Ocean Beach, is THE place for singles, land of 25 to 40-somethings all looking for love, sex or new friends and a nice beach and endless games of flip cup. Ocean Bay Park is dominated by house shares, strangers connecting from Craigs List or word of mouth and converging often 10-20 strong upon each of the hundred or so party abodes such as ours.
If you’ve heard of Fire Island you know it has a notoriously gay reputation, which must be what keeps so many guys away. I think that’s what keeps so many guys away. Sure, there is famously gay enclave tucked away a few clicks down the road if that’s your game, but for my part, I thank the gays for rendering Ocean Bay Park a veritable 3-1 girl to guy ratio.
There was one exception I saw around 3 a.m. the same night I arrived, or 15 beers later in terms of local talk, at a bar (Schooners for the experience) when I was drunkenly pulling a girl out of the bar to go hook up on the beach. The hookup was a cute little French thing, practically hidden entirely by her long, smooth brunette hair. Picture the girl from The Ring, but make her cute and delectable (even though she turned out a veteran bore, to borrow from Nick Carraway). She said she had to run to the ladies room quickly, and as I stood alone by the bar I noticed the dwindling late night dance floor had dwindled to three female couples, dancing and making out with each other sloppily, too intoxicated to even stand upright. If this is gay Fire Island, sign me up I thought!
Still, I’m not as moved as most men are by seeing two women making out and groping each other. Not because they are gay, which is simply a lifestyle choice I respect. Nor is it because of a frustrating realization that two perfectly cute women are off the market to me. For me, my anti-lesbian fantasy comes from having dated a bisexual woman for five years and having to deal with her ex female lovers and the threesomes that she tried to talk me into with her female friends weekly. For the first time, I was put in a position of dealing with jealousy over women courting my woman and first-hand emotional trama, and thus a negative association with bi women or lesbians has lingered on. Don’t get me wrong though: because my relationship with the bi girl never amounted to an engagement I’m left kicking myself for passing on all the ménage action…action I didn’t even have to work at one bit. Fuck me.
As for the hookup, we walked hand in hand, blind in the dark alongside the deer that seemed to be guiding us to sin. We eventually hit the beach and lay under the few stars visible in the cloudy sky and began rounding the bases. I thought we were alone, until another Fire Island cliché materialized: Public beach coitus. Around 5 a.m. the darkness lifted and not 50 feet away we saw another couple having sex. And then another 100 feet down another couple. And soon I realized that there were about 30 people hooking up or sleeping together in our immediate vicinity. People we hadn’t hear in the dark because of the crashing waves and endangered bird chatter. I asked Magalie (a name I came to learn only minutes earlier through a first person narrative of hers) to remind me how to say good morning in French.
“Bon matin,” she said. My French is really slipping!
And I caught a glimpse of what I thought was one of the lesbian couples from Schooners spooning nearby. And I thought of my ex and ménages passed by in frustration. But we would walk back to our house share where 12 other younger women would be crashed on bunks and couches and grabbed a few hours of sleep. Around 10 a.m. th house stirred in preparation for a new day of thrill seeking. And I realize now I’ll always have Fire Island and amour abound, even I if can’t see it until sunrise.