Couple Kissing on the Beach Getty Images News/Uriel Sinai
By Amy Phillips Penn


VINTAGE GOSSIP is alive and well in the elegant hands of Amy Phillips Penn, former society columnist for the New York Post. Every Thursday, Amy pens her posts with that same touch of class, making the legends and lore of a bygone era as relevant today as they were when Jackie O was queen of New York.

 

“What’s the story morning glory?
What’s the tale nightingale?
Tell me quick about Hugo and Kim!
Did they really get pinned?
Did she kiss him and cry?
Now there liven at last…
Goin’ steady for good.”
— Bye, Bye Birdie

 

Bridgehampton, back when. What now is a strip mall dressed up with boutiques and a “nose-in-the-air-not” K-mart, once was the Hamptons Drive-In, just a lick and a banana split across the highway from Carvel. Does life get any better than that?

How many teenagers watched the big screen, if they were old enough to drive themselves and a date there? Popcorn commercials popped on, harmonizing with a clunky, tinny transmitter of the sound of movies. And then, before the first piece of popcorn drenched and slobbered into high cholesterol…you “made out.”

Which was the scariest part of the off-screen movie that we lived in? Getting pregnant, being labeled as “fast,” or both? Here’s an echo of the words that we were raised on:

“There are nice girls who you marry, and then there are the fast ones that no one takes seriously.”

“Susie has a great body.  I hope that she doesn’t show it around town like that loose, you know who.”

These were the days and nights when your date came to the door and met your parents — a harrowing experience at best. I remember meeting my boyfriends’ parents and my stomach has never settled completely since.

We had curfews, and if we were even five minutes late, all hell could break loose, faster than the rumor of a high school prom queen flipped over-easy.

Enter the burglar alarm, in its prehistoric phase. It would screech and shriek until the local police arrived to make sure that everything was ok. My girlfriend and I would wait in stoned paranoia, trying to suppress a laugh, while my father stood there in pajama bottoms, dropping ashes from the Camel that he claimed he no longer indulged in.

The sirens gave way to the sounds of waves and beach parties. We roasted marshmallows, shared a joint or two, and some slugged beer; it was not a boozy group.

Then there were the games: we played spin the bottle. Does anyone play it any more, or is it an app? We sat in a bonfire-highlighted circle, and whoever was “it,” got to spin the bottle. The spinner had to kiss the destination of the bottle, assuming the subject was of the opposite sex; if not, it was spin, spin, spin again.

For the innately curious, we moved on to another game: Truth, Dare, Double Dare Consequence, or Repeat:

 

Truth: You asked someone a somewhat racy question and they had to answer honestly. As if?

Dare: You dared a friend to do something racy… like kiss their neighbor, or better yet, give him a backrub. He was shirtless; you were not.

Double Dare: A dare that you couldn’t refuse.

Repeat: You were made to repeat something daring like, “I have a crush on … for the Herculean in spirit only.

 

It was a summer of exploration. Where there’s a teenage heartbeat, there’s a way. What did we do for a kiss? We met at the beach at night — some dared to dig their way under an upside down rowboat, while others parked their bikes in the bushes, then ventured into the brush that was fated to become smooth, overpriced real estate in Hamptons’ time.

Bye, Bye Birdie…Drive-Ins in Bridgehampton…and the first of many a kiss.

Savor the summer.

 

“Oh, one last kiss
Oh, give me one last kiss
Oh, one more time
Oh, baby, one more time
It really is sublime
Oh honey, so sublime
You know I need your love
Oh oh oh
Oh, give me one last kiss”
— Bye Bye Birdie

 


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