He had decided to leave the routine of the city behind. Life had become too stressful and besides, management was getting too miserly. The boss was always carping about food costs, OSHA regulations, immigration problems, constantly on your back to change the menu, pressuring you to come up with a business miracle so he could pay for a new condo while telling you he couldn't afford to pay health insurance anymore. Sound familiar?

It had become too familiar to Jake Milbury. At cooking school in Paris he'd been so optimistic. The dreams of coming home with all his culinary knowledge had made him feel invincible. He was going to conquer Manhattan. The New York Times would bestow stars on his cooking wizardry. Gail Greene from New York Magazine would be knocking at his kitchen door to preview his latest inspiration. Ten years and two rehabs later a more rational sensibility had been stamped on his long-term outlook. Or so it seemed . . .


The Milburys had reached the point where life's big decisions were driving their dreams. Se marcharon los anos se fue la juventud. The years march on leaving youth behind. It sounds better in Spanish.

The largest concern was that the two boys would be starting school for real this fall. Rory would be entering kindergarten. He had been going to a co-op preschool, expensive enough for someone who hadn't reached the age of five as yet, and the thought of spending even more on kindergarten made Jake nervous. The alternative being the public schools in the city, which only made Misha Milbury wonder if kindergarteners would be checked for weapons with metal detectors on the first day of school.

"I hope you don't think for a minute that Rory is going to public school," said Misha.

"We can't afford private schools," pouted Jake.

"What are you suggesting then?" She quivered and Jake was feeling cornered but their discussions of important life-plans always seemed to degenerate this way.

Jake had that dull look on his face that made him seem inattentive and actually he was thinking about how his hands smelled like bleach and day-old food. They lived in a basement apartment which always had a kind of semiconscious atmosphere due to the lack of light.

"Are you listening to what we're talking about? It's pretty important." She hated it when he didn't seem to be listening.

Jake Milbury was wondering what time it was getting to be. Cooking had taken over much of his free thinking time in his head and the enormous stress of it all had become routine. He wondered if he had ordered the monkfish for tonight's special. Had they brought the right fish? Was it fresh? If they hadn't, what could he run as a special at such short notice?

"HELLO," shouted Misha.

"I'm listening."

"You're not," she said.

"Let's move," said Jake.

"Somewhere close to the city but country enough and with enough restaurants to keep you working," thought Misha out loud.

Connecticut seemed too suburban. Westchester too. New Jersey had rubbed them the wrong way.

"What about the Hamptons?" Misha asked.

"Year round?" wondered Jake.

" Let's get cracking," she said, and thus began the search for bliss and serenity.

copyright 1996 The Adventures of Cyberchef; or, Down and Out in New York and the Hamptons