This year has been like trying to free a pick from the inside of an acoustic guitar. You’re shaking that thing up, down, and sideways like you’re Clark Griswold, you know, shaking the meowing Christmas present from Great Aunt Bethany… by that same token, this year’s also been like trying to remove an eyelash from your eye. Sure, you might save that private Ryan after a half hour’s worth of expletives and convulsions, but the end result, the bloodshot eye, albeit freed from its aggravator, certainly wasn’t worth the innumerable costs.
But, not to fear, summer’s here. You picture the class at the end of the semester, everyone’s doing the “High School Musical” chant: “Summer… summer… summer…” but in reality, when school lets out, the days become cyclical like Taxi Driver, filled with eight-hour minimum-wage shifts, all to pay for college. Which, when it comes to tuition, college universities are the biggest crooks since the late Bernie Madoff. The price tag is so overinflated that it makes Jeff Bezos’ annual income look like sofa-crack change. They claim to make you well-rounded. With the all-you-can-eat buffet, that’s one promise they have yet to break.
Look, not to be the wet blanket, but summer’s not all Colbie Calliat, Starbucks refreshers, and Disney Channel TV movies. In fact, summer ends when you turn sixteen and you’re old enough to be shipped off to the rat race. It’s no longer lemonade stands, Slip ‘N Slides, or pedophile ice cream trucks. Friends ask about summer plans, you exhale glumly like Eeyore, “Oh, you know, back to the coal mines…”
Cortisol levels should in theory drop. In theory. But no, just look at the sort of punishment the summer temps mete out: grass that grows. Lawn mowers… the sound is inescapable. It’s agoraphobia writ large. John Deeres roaring 24/7… you wake up at 1:00 am, Good Neighbor Clarence is out mowing his lawn, headlamp on forehead, Michelob in hand, like Clark Griswold with a hockey mask on cutting down his tree… you go vacationing in Micronesia, just for some damn respite… you wake up the next day in your plush DoubleTree bed, jetlagged as can be, the plane engine roar still humming in your ea—
Wait a minute.
You look out your window: the greenskeeper is out cutting the front lawn. You’ve gotta be kidding me, you say. Can a guy in a bear suit just relax?
You die, go to Heaven, shake hands with God, settle in a beach chair, sip down three rootbeer floats, feel a hundred years being lifted off your chest with a single sigh: “Finally, some damn peace—”
To your right, Gabriel the Angel is there with the weed eater, trimming the edges at the entrance gates.
“Oh for fu—”
Bob Dylan got it right when he sang, “I haven’t known peace and quiet for so long, I can’t remember what it’s like.”
Then there’s the ticks. Ticks are the worst thing devised since the atom bomb. God made cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you’re born, He couldn’t rest until He’d made that parasitic arachnid. The lost chapter of Genesis probably went something like this:
“And then God saith, ‘I know I’m omnipotent and stuff and could just create more awe-inspiring phenomena like the Aurora Borealis and solar eclipses and stuff, but, just for the hell of it, I’m gonna go ahead and scatter a few million ticks across the planet.’”
God is like a doctor. A doctor doesn’t wash his hands… that’s like an animal rights activist shooting a Bengal Tiger for sport. To this day, I can’t comprehend why I see overweight doctors. Stress, genetics, yeah yeah, I know the factors. You have a reservoir of knowledge at your disposal on how to lead a healthy life, just like God had the power not to create ticks.
Ticks aren’t the only downside to the heat. The amount of sunscreen required for a two-hour outing is verily obnoxious. I feel like I’m readying myself for a Sports Illustrated swimsuit photoshoot, you know, pasty white like the Abominable Snowman. If you don’t arm yourself with SPF 100, your skin begins to peel off like chocolate shavings. You could show up to the casting call of Hellboy 3 and they’d hire you on the spot, probably thank you for saving some costs for the makeup department. And then you’ve gotta sport five-dollar Walmart sunglasses. I swear, people wear sunglasses so often, it becomes another limb. Shades in the shower, shades in bed… these people are like Elton John or Ringo Starr. There’s a solar eclipse, the world goes dark, these people still have their shades on like the Blues Brothers.
What about the upsides to Summer? you ask. Three options: water parks, “the lake,” or a well-earned beach vacation. Rest assured, I can find the blade-sized hole in the chain mail in all of them. First, I never understood the appeal of body slides at water parks; in fact, I think you’re better off taking a cheese grater to your back. Second, notice how no one ever specifies what lake they’re going to. It’s always just “the lake.” What lake is this? Lake Wobegon? And last, beach vacations serve their purpose, but there’s a reason why people like Anakin Skywalker don’t like sand: “It gets everywhere.” It’s like powdered sugar. You get back from Destin, it’s like you were on the set of Lawrence of Arabia, sand in every nook and cranny. In your hair, up your moons, between your teeth… maybe that’s why your bread has a crunch to it. You go to empty out your socks, swing it around like a shot put… pouring it out is like breaking open an hourglass or puncturing a medicine ball; the stream of sand is endless. It’s like a magician’s bottomless bag of tricks. An hour later, the sand is still flowing out of your Adidas sock like a waterfall, your place has been flooded with sand like Mr. Popper’s Penguins…
So May fourteenth finally comes around, and it’s time to bid adieu to your associates. How does one cut the phone line and leave on amicable terms? How does one avoid a “Bachelorette”-esque awkward silence? Well, do I have a solution for you.
Ever notice how the breathless “Well…” is used to tacitly signal the end of a conversation? Five seconds of silence go by. “Well…” You don’t even continue the sentence. Just pat your pant pockets, clap your hands together like you’re doing body percussion or something. You know, this “well…” could be employed in any situation in which you want to get the hell out of. Eccentric neighbor leans over to the fence to regale you with their personal transformation tale of vegetarian-gone-vegan, “Well…” Professor enjoins you to cite Riemann’s Hypothesis by memory in front of the class, “Well…” Highschool ex-boyfriend asks about your sex life at the fiftieth high school reunion, “Well…”
It’s fool-proof. Thank me later. And… well… have a good summer.