Listening to newcomers talk about the celebrities they've spotted on the street here in East Hampton always makes me smile. Especially when they talk about trying to get a photo with them or ask for autographs. Because real locals would rarely if ever get excited about seeing anyone famous - it's something we've grown accustomed to over the years.
The first time I was aware of a "famous" person was back in the '50s when we were out on a Sunday drive and my father said to my mother "Look - there's Marilyn!". We all sensed a tone in his voice that was unusual so we turned and looked at the red Cadillac convertible driving across the intersection - I clearly remember the striking woman driving. She had a head scarf covering her famous blond head but couldn't hide her beautiful face and it wasn't hard to imagine that she was someone important, even for an 8-year-old observer. I'd no idea who "Marilyn" was but my parents went on to talk about how she was here renting a summer house with her husband and how stunning she was. It was only years later that I would realize how rare a glimpse of Marilyn Monroe was.
Over the years I've often crossed paths with the rich and famous on the streets - years ago they were less likely to sequester themselves in their compounds the way they do today. But my parents would never have spoken to them other than to exchange a friendly "hello" in passing - as they would to anyone. They told us that "people come here to be left alone and feel normal" and we were to pretend we didn't recognize them. I think most locals have that philosophy. Many of us have assisted them at our jobs, helping them choose a couch or making them a sandwich. More than once I've found myself in line at the IGA or other local store behind the like of Billy Joel or Chevy Chase, but other than to smile and say "hi" I've always kept my distance and acted like they were "regular" people, as I was taught.
Autograph seeking is a sure way to identify yourself as a tourist or a "come 'ere" around East Hampton. You've been warned!