At 9PM on any given Saturday night in Cherry Grove or Fire Island Pines all of the share houses assemble for an age old ritual that bonds us all together. The dreaded or exalted house dinner- depending upon your cooking abilities. Somewhere around 9PM each housemate has this built in timing device that sends a signal to the brain reminding you to leave whatever compromising situation you are in and make for home. This comes through loud and clear no matter if you are on the stage at Middle Tea dancing to Rehana or barely sitting upright on a bar stool after Hugo has served you three Vodka Martinis at Jumpin Jacks.

Housemates are clearly divided into the camps of cooking and cleaning and those who can cook quickly learn that if you can get out early on a Friday and take responsibility for that meal you are absolved of further kitchen details during the weekend. Also note that the bar for Friday night cooking is much lower than the Saturday main event, whereas you can get by with an over the counter Barbeque Chicken from the Pines Pantry and not be questioned.

Alas, some housemates are over-served Planters Punches and do not always heed the internal clock and decide the guy they are making out with at High Tea deserve their utmost attention. These are the ones who turn up mid dinner wearing someone else’s T-Shirt and end up eating the chicken wings and who load the dishwasher as penance.

And, of course then there are the meals themselves.

  • None of my housemates can look at an Edamame Bean squarely and not remember the infamous “Edimame Bean and Fresh Herb Salad” that certainly hit the spot at 1AM while dancing at Sip N Twirl.  That particular business brought 4 housemates rushing back to the house.
  • And anyone who has an aversion to projectile vomiting tries to block their mind from the chicken skewers that had a mere passing encounter with the grill that was not noticed until the last one was eaten
  • Mandatory drag dinners pose a completely different set of complications which usually don’t involve the actual food. We all fondly remember the drunken guest who stood to make a toast and his Diane Von Furstenberg dress rose with him, revealing no underwear which posed a serious threat to his salad when he leaned over the table.
  • Occasionally visiting family members are roped into this vision of togetherness and they rise to the occasion as we discovered when we came home one night to find a housemates mother drinking gin martinis and attempting to light the grill by tossing lite cigarettes into the charcoal.
  • And note that drunken Italian cooks who incidentally cook badly tend to take it especially hard and sit at the table weeping when say a pork chop chars in the searing heat and flys off the table when a diner attempts to cut it with a knife

So if you are visiting the Island and do not possess the skills of Rachel Ray or Martha Stewart and do not want to find yourself as a kitchen slave then land yourself a guy at low tea and head to Top of the Bay, The Pines Bistro or Jumpin Jacks to name a few. Like the guys- the options are limitless!