Malibu Way of Life

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Picture a man striding with sure purpose as he weaves his way through an incoming tide of swift-walking gray suits. See his soft tasseled loafers slapping hard concrete and his heavy silk tie flapping like an armorial banner in the chill breeze off the East River. This is a man born to the city. His pulse beats just a bit faster than yours or mine and his speech has the clipped, rapid cadence of a New Yorker in a hurry. Let’s call him Steven.

As we watch, Steven races up the wide, timeworn marble steps of City Hall and takes his place at the right hand of the mayor. To him, he has the best job in the universe, charged with selling the wonders of his city to the world at large; he’s aide to the foreign press. It is Steven’s job to introduce them to the best that every borough has to offer; he knows every street that shows New York off and every backstreet to avoid. When Steven calls a maitre d’, a prime table opens; a box office, third row center seats appear. It’s as though there is a golden key to the city and it rests in Steven’s pocket.

Enter Nell. When he first spots those blue eyes peering over the rim of a champagne flute, Nell is well camouflaged in black wool and Prada. Her business card gives nothing away: partner in a prestigious PR firm, launching a French hotel in midtown. But Nell’s a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Behind that urban gear rests the heart of a country girl. The city’s pace wearies her and she runs away every weekend to her family home on an upstate lake or-gasp!-drives to the Cape for a frolic on the beach with a pack of dogs.

Steven is doomed, but he’s too smitten to notice.

At first, they compromise: a Brooklyn brownstone with a stamp-sized garden in the rear where the sun breaks through for an hour a day. They keep working, longer and longer hours; eating later and richer dinners with clients.

One day, while Nell is fielding e-mails, a photo pops on her screen. She almost deletes it, thinking it must be spam, when something catches her eye. It’s a picture of a quite ordinary gray house surrounding by an extraordinary blaze of autumn trees, the full palette of fall colors reflected in a marsh fronting the property. There was an address and a price; within 48 hours, it was theirs.

Within six weeks, it was theirs with a puppy and a building loan for a new kitchen and a dozen windows. Each day, our city boy rose in dismay, surrounded by dense trees and grass. Where was the river of yellow taxis? Where in this strange land could he find fresh, hot bagels? Where did all the people go?

For a while, Steven and Nell kept up the pace. They commuted and each kept a dozen balls of daily commerce flying through the air. One day, their lives changed. The mighty blast that tore apart the tip of Manhattan bound them together and reset their values. Steven and Nell quit their jobs, went home and made a baby.

And she has made all the difference. Last week, Steven had a lunch date in the city. He threw on a pair of khakis and a polo shirt, grabbed a suburban shopping bag for his papers-he can’t find his fine leather briefcase-and lingered so long with his toddling daughter, he missed the express train and had to take a local. He left smiling happily.

There is nothing that melts the heart of a cool guy faster than a warm smile from a hot babe. And when that babe’s not yet three feet high and shares his dimples, there’s no place else on earth that he’d rather be. Not even Manhattan. Happy Father’s Day! Make sure you make it a great one for him. Everything in his life changed the day you were born.

Beach Beans

Serves 6 as a side dish

This easy dish is a perfect accompaniment to a beach barbecue since it holds up well to the heat. Steven got this version from his brother, George, the family’s first suburban √©migr√© and slave to the grill. For them, beach beans have become as much a part of summer as sand and sunburns. Enjoy!

1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 small bag sweet corn, cooked

1/2 small red onion, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 poblano chili, chopped

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1/2 cup lime juice

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Tbs. ground cumin

Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Combine ingredients up to cilantro in a bowl.

2. Whisk remaining ingredients to emulsify. Toss with vegetables.

3. Chill.

Serving suggestions: This recipe adapts well. Chop and add: jicama, avocado, tomatoes, mangoes, shrimp, lump crabmeat, or fresh snapper.