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The Mast-Head: Clams, Yes. Wallet, No.

Wed, 07/27/2022 - 18:37

What if I attach a biker’s chain to my wallet?” I’ve been thinking. That way, I could attach it to something large and not so easy to lose. As I write this week, there can be no doubt that my wallet is somewhere. Where, is the question; the why I understand.

Shortly after I reached age 50 my eyesight changed quickly. Reading at night became difficult. Books had to be farther from my nose to be legible. The Southampton eye doctor I went to see told me, “I could write a prescription for anyone, but you just need reading glasses,” and told me about a three-for-one deal at Target. Now, closing in on 60, I increasingly forget where I leave things, like the wallet, my keys, a set of splicing fids for boat lines.

A bunch of us had gone clamming off a boat on Sunday, which was the last I had seen the wallet. Having been stopped and boarded by a good-natured Coast Guard patrol out of Montauk a week earlier, it seemed wise for someone to have some kind of identification, plus I needed my East Hampton Town shellfish license in case the clam cops showed up, which they sometimes do.

One of the truisms about clamming is that you almost always start slowly but in the end can’t drop finding them until you pull yourself away like a problem gambler from a slot machine. Sunday was like that; there were too many rocks and not enough clams where I first anchored. I sent the gang up the beach, as I moved the boat around to a sand point. As far as I remember, my wallet was in a cloth shopping bag (thanks, WordHampton!) tucked behind the fish finder screen, but I am not sure. We hit the clams hard for about an hour, filling an official trustees’ red-mesh sack with a good 50 pounds of big ones. It has been spaghetti vongole, fritters with Sam Sifton’s recipe, and my own no-milk chowder ever since.

At the end of the very hot day, I dropped everyone else off at home, then took the boat back to its mooring and waded ashore through chest-deep water with the bag, presumably with my wallet inside, on my head. Troublingly, the WordHampton bag now sits empty, as blank as my memory about it, in my car.

What is funny is that I can always find the clams — eventually. About my wallet or whatever else I am missing at the moment, I am increasingly not so sure.


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