Summer. It’s been hot; I’ve been teaching and dealing with undergrads and trying not get too cranky. There’s been no time to post – plus my office gets too darn hot. (Whoever said ‘summertime and the livin’ is easy clearly had air conditioning). So, some thoughts on summer, written years ago and published in Chatelaine, revised, shortened and slightly updated.
I realize everybody’s supposed to love summer but I do not. I do not enjoy being hot and uncomfortable – plus, there are the obvious sartorial disadvantages, like shorts with elastic waistbands and flip-flops. (Incidentally, I don’t care how cunningly a bathing suit is cut – the only way anyone’s oeil will be tromped into believing I have thin thighs is through a funhouse mirror.) Not to mention far too many people running around looking inelegantly, er, glowy.
Summer, moreover, is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, children running around screaming (their natural habitat, school, being temporarily closed to give teachers a break) and total strangers, by definition people we do not know, telling us to cheer up and smile, the sun is shining. Yes, I noticed.
I’m the person you see skulking around like some Creature of the Night: hat pulled over my face, dark reflective Maui Jim sunglasses clamped on my nose, long sleeves and collar protecting my befreckled self – hovering as close to the miniscule shade buildings have in the midday sun – trying to avoid the inevitable migraine that the sharp, bright light and heat brings. on. (And no, I don’t vant to suck your blood, what a disgusting thought. Though I could use the salt.)
I just do not see what the fuss is about, particularly when autumn is so much nicer. Take Shakespeare, going on about comparing thee to a summer’s day. (Did you ever proof what you wrote, Will? Or actually go outside?) A summer’s day is bloody endless. Most of us end up looking like one of those cartoon characters with corkscrew spirals for eyes. That’s because it’s so hard to sleep, given that there’s about two hours of darkness before the sun rises again, day after day after interminable day. That is if one even can sleep, given the heat.
You can’t even drown your sorrows with a stiff drink in the summer unless you’re willing to sacrifice all dignity and drink some Day-Glo concoction that looks like it escaped from Sesame Street. As for that stupid little umbrella they stick in most of those drinks, who are they kidding? That thing wouldn’t keep a gnat dry.
Then there’s sunscreen. Sunscreen is a slimy substance one must slather all over oneself lest one’s freckles mutate into monstrous melanomas. First, of course, one has to spend hours poring over Nature, Science and every piece on nanotechnology one can to determine whether those zinc-nano-lie-on-top-of-your-skin things are better than the chemical variety that seep heaven-know-what synthetics into your system. (I opt for the nano kind, my friend and nano expert Frogheart assures me the EU has determined they’re safe and I trust her and them.)
Sunscreen means that the harder you try to be cool the more you look like a dork. Or some Kabuki creature from a Japanese B-movie. The Green Slime is the one I’m thinking of but feel free to go with Alien if it makes you happy. Doorknobs slide out of one’s slippery fingers and opening a bottle is nigh-on impossible. One’s greasy fingerprints are everywhere. This is not the time to embark on a life of crime; they’d catch you faster than that bank robber who wrote his demands on the back of his personal cheque.
And don’t get me started on summer sandals. Sure, they’re cute and come in pretty colours. But summer = hot and hot = blisters. Which means one is constantly hobbling about, carrying extra shoes (or frying one’s feet wearing closed walking shoes with socks). I have become close personal friends with Dr. Scholl.
And at the end of the day, what’s left? Reruns, that’s what. (And how do programmers know exactly which two episodes of Arctic Air I’ve seen and just keep rerunning those same two over and over again? It’s fiendish plot, I swear.)
Now it turns out that all indicators point to the warming of the planet – and one long endless summer. The summer of my discontent. No, I’m sorry, but that Simply Will Not Do.
So it’s settled. One, two, three – we will all sit up straight, figure out what we can each do to ward off this nightmare and get on with it. Agitate for more and better transit. Stop our over-reliance on fossil fuels and stop with this nonsense that everything has to cost $2 and be steamered over from some village in China where they pay their workers next to nothing so we can have yet more cheap junk to toss into even more landfills. This economic downturn is the perfect opportunity to scale back, recycle, reuse and realize that one, long, endless sunburn will make curmudgeons out of all of us, not just diehards like me.