Summer is HERE
Is it just me, or does it seem these days that summer really doesn’t start to get rolling until the week before the 4th of July? When I was a kid, summer started about two weeks before school got out; the 4th of July felt like the middle of the summer season. What’s going on? Are our summers shrinking? Good lord, I hope not. We need summer. We neeeed it. We need it because it feels like the whole world is falling apart. We need a break from all the bad news. We need the sunshine. We need the warmth. We need some lazy days and carefree nights. I know I certainly do, at least.
I think I mentioned last year how what we envision in our heads as the “perfect summer” is really more of an abstract construction than a true reality. Our minds tend to forget about all the hard work and expense that goes into planning a summer getaway. We forget about the sunburns, and the bug bites and the (for me) occasional hangover. Summer ain’t perfect. For most of us adults, we spent the majority of the summer months the same way we spend the rest of the year: WORKING. And with very few exceptions, there’s nothing less ‘summery’ than work.
So again, “Summer” with a capital ‘S’ is a state of mind. And I guess I’ve been having trouble this year getting into that summertime state of mind. Is it because I’m getting older? Is it because I’m letting financial concerns get in the way of relaxing, simply. It’s probably both, and probably much more. Like Christmas, I think summertime is really more for kids than anybody else, and for the rest of us in the ‘real world,’ chasing the perfect summer is all about getting back to those days when we were young, having fun in the sun with not a care in the world. But we do have cares in the world (at least we probably should.)
But that doesn’t mean we should ever give up searching for that blissful summer feeling. Sure, it probably won’t last more than a few days at the most; few of us are able to while away the entire season lounging and playing. Those that can, and do: Congratulations. For the rest of us, we just need to remember that time flies by awfully damn fast, especially when the days are long and the weather is warm and the water is just right. I’m telling this to myself just as much as anybody else, but as we head into the long Independence Day Weekend (I know the whole significance of July 4th and all, but man wouldn’t it be nice if the holiday fell on a Friday or Monday every year??) let’s focus on enjoying the summer and everything it has to offer, whatever that may be to you. And no, I don’t mean enjoy it in an “Oh my God we have to get out there and buy a bunch of expensive toys and shit so we can cram as much fun into this short period as possible and oh my God it’s so stressful!!!” kind of way.
I mean this: Simplify it. We Americans tend to treat summer like we treat everything else: something to check off a list. Enjoying summer doesn’t mean spending tons of money. And it certainly shouldn’t mean getting all stressed out. Just kick back. On the beach or in your living room. Put your feet up or go for a long hike. Spend long days at the beach or amusement park. Just do what makes you happy. That’s it! That’s my key to life. Don’t fret over keeping up with the Joneses and their latest boat or big huge lake cottage; that’s a fool’s game. Summer is about relaxing, spending time with friends and family, tubed meats (or fresh veggies) grilled over an open flame. It’s about late nights spent gazing at the stars (or the fireflies.) It’s about getting to that book you’ve been meaning to read. It’s about making summertime memories, however that happens. Don’t just work. These summers will get away from you if you don’t pause to take them in. If you’ve got vacation days, A: you’re lucky, and B: USE THEM! The vast majority of Americans don’t even take the vacation time they’ve earned. That’s just wrong. Life, and summer, is just too damned short to spend it all making money (mostly for somebody else.)
Whether you’re poolside, beachside, or inside, you hereby have my permission to work a little less, play a little more this summer. Now get out there! Drive safely, wear your helmet, and don’t forget the sunscreen!
Here’s a summer playlist to get you in the mood. No ‘Songs of Summer’ daily list this year; too much work, too little reward. But other than nice warm weather, good tunes are to me probably the most thing to make a summer day better.
Further Summertime Diversions:
Stevie Wonder, “Beach Stomp”
I recently came across Stevie Wonder’s beach-themed album ‘Stevie at the Beach.’ Not his best, but some fun mid-sixties beach music.
The 1964 flick starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon. There were six or seven of these ‘Beach’ movies in the sixties starting with ‘Beach Party’ in 1963. ‘Bikini Beach‘ is I believe the second. They’re not very good, but I love them nonetheless. Pure campy, cheesy fun. They were hugely popular at the time, and set the tone for what teenagers should be doing in the 60’s. And still today.
Frank Sinatra, Jr. ‘Dance Baby Dance’
We lost Frank Sinatra Jr. earlier this year. This is his rare pop recording, the theme to a really not very good beach flick, ‘The Beach Girls and the Monster’
‘Wigglin’ Wobblin” by the Del-Aires
Yes, I’m addicted to the 60’s beach flick cheese. The Del-Aires performed this non-classic in the 1964 horror-beach flick hybrid ‘The Horror of Party Beach,’ which easily fits into the so-bad-it’s-good category. Perfect for any summer midnite movie marathon!