Travelogues for Places You’d Never Visit Voluntarily: LONG ISLAND


By Joel Gillespie

I didn’t travel to Bethpage, New York, expecting to have my mind blown by an epically profound Catholic wedding homily, but we simply can’t choose where lightning will strike. There I was, minding my own business in a pew at Saint Martin of Tours, when the priest began dropping knowledge, first in small drips, then in a raging torrent.

“I was listening to a song called ‘Smooth’ by Santana the other day, which I think has some great advice for the young couple before us today,” said the Father. (His Grace gave short shrift to Rob Thomas and his co-songwriter Itaal Shur throughout his message, laying all credit at the feet of Carlos Santana.) “Give me your heart, make it real, or else,” he continued in his Long Island brogue, placing special emphasis on the last word of the refrain: “fuggeddaboutit.” This actually happened in real life, and I’m glad I was there and awake and alert and everything.

After that mountaintop experience, the rest of the wedding day couldn’t help but be a little bit of a letdown. The wedding was being held at 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon in order to take advantage of the fortuitous numerology of the wedding date: 5/15/15. So that meant that we were driving in Friday afternoon rush-hour traffic for 20 miles from the church back to the hotel, and then taking a shuttle for another 20 miles to the site of the reception. As far as I can tell, Long Island is just one big bedroom community for New York City, so the same progression of suburban houses, Dunkin Donuts, and nail salons repeated itself on an endless loop. So many Dunkin Donuts, man.

On the plus side, the reception was pretty great once we got there. There were no fewer than four separate food bars set up just for cocktail hour. I had never had chili in a martini glass before, and I’m never going back to bowls. I shudder to think what all that food and booze cost. The DJ crew was familiar in the ways of getting the party started, although they were prone to switching to a new song every minute and a half or so.

Some other random notes:

– The groom’s surname was Ferrigno, and he was a muscular dude with a muscular family, but the original Hulk was nowhere to be found. Alas. I was totally ready to play the Bill Bixby role, if necessary.
– I’m convinced that more than half of the wedding guests were extras in Goodfellas. As my esteemed travel companion put it: ‘They aren’t trashy people, but they are the kind of people who put ice cubes in their red wine.
– The bride had a maid of honor and nine bridesmaids, and the groom had a best man and nine groomsmen. Not quite enough for a football game, but plenty for basketball, and just enough for baseball, although you’d place a premium on good positional flexibility in your last groomsman choice.

Overall, I’d say that Long Island is a great place to live as long as you always want to be at least an hour away from anything interesting, and you’re willing to navigate crushing traffic in order to get to that elusive interesting thing.

Let’s don’t forget about it.

Joel is a Bike Wrangler from Minneapolis.


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