Saturday, July 23, 2011

Why I Hate Summer


It seems like everyone else in the known universe loves summer. Even on unknown exoplanets where the transition to summer means the seas of ammonia start boiling and the giant worms come out of hiding in their usual ice caves, the silicon-based creatures who live there probably say to each other, "Ah, summer...there's nothing like it." Well, I don't like it. Never have. As a kid, it meant school was out, and I LOVED school. Both my parents worked, so it meant I was consigned to daycare. My least favorite daycare was run by a woman who, God bless her, must have had some sort of adrenal or pituitary problem: she was maybe 5 feet tall, but I'd guess she weighed in at close to 350 pounds. She didn't really get up and interact with us much--just yelled at us from her Barcalounger, "You kids stop playin' grabass! It's time for snack." Snack being off-brand juiceboxes (though once in a while we did get Hi-C...anyone else remember 'Ectocooler,' that Ghostbusters-branded juice that was antifreeze-green and tasted, well, GREEN?) and stale Goldfish. Yum. Add to this the fact that I was the only person in my age group, and preferred reading in a corner to playing the aforementioned grabass, and, well, maybe you can imagine why Goldfish still taste, to me, of isolation and soul-crushing loneliness. And why I abhor summer.
Then there are the more practical reasons I disliked summer as a kid--ones not related to social isolation and boredom. Metal slides, unarguably the BEST playground equipment ever, were transformed by the blazing Missouri sun into huge George Foreman grills, which seared the backs of my thighs like chicken cutlets (and sometimes even burned my derriere through my shorts). During the summer it seemed that there were always squadrons of bees and wasps with nothing better to do than seek me out and sting the crap out of me. Poison ivy was lurking around every corner. Popsicles, while delicious, seemed specially designed to melt before actually making it to my mouth, covering my hands and clothes in a sticky syrup that attracted--surprise--more bees. My parents were thoughtful, cautious people, and every year my father delivered the Fourth of July lecture about how more fingers and eyes were lost during Fourth of July weekend than at any other time (except perhaps Sports Night at a leper colony). It wasn't until late elementary school that I got to go over to a friend's house for the Fourth, and having been robbed by dire threats of the childish joy of blowing shit up, contented myself with sparklers (and then only when I knew there was a bucket of water nearby). I'm still not a huge fan of the Fourth of July--all the red, white and blue crap, the mindless jingoism, the picnics and barbeques that aren't really over until someone vomits--either from alcohol poisoning or because of the unrefrigerated potato salad. I hate watermelon. I love sweet corn with butter but feel the need to floss between every few bites. I'm a vegetarian, so most of the joys of BBQ are beyond me, and beyond most of the people who organize communal cookouts to which I'm invited. I'll usually bring a box of Boca Burgers, but for the most part recognize that otherwise I'll be dining on potato chips and possibly a dessert of some description.

Of course, there's also the heat. A heat index over 100 degrees makes any activity--physical or mental--a struggle of epic proportions. Even with my trusty window unit cranked to 100%, thermal equilibrium is hard to find. It's too hot to actually pursue any meaningful activity, but lying still in bed only means sweating in silence. It's too hot to sleep with covers, but as everyone knows--or should--sleeping without covers leaves one dangerously vulnerable to attack by the monsters that live under the bed. With climate change, I can only expect the summers to get hotter and more objectionable. Maybe I'll move to Seattle, or Canada. I can see that happening--moving another 10 degrees north every decade or so, always chasing the cold, the winter where I am content.

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