With the holiday of Midsummer approaching on Monday, it seemed only right that I use this blog entry to talk about the most epic of all seasons (although autumn runs a close, close second).
As children, that is a holy word. It’s what we all fantasized about in the dead of winter, when we fought off sleep during another boring science lecture. No offense to those who adore Punnett squares, I am simply not an Einstein and never will be when it comes to genetics and mitosis. In fact, a sidenote: my sixth grade science teacher, a lovely man by the name of Mr. Zaccarro, called my mom to tell her I was reading a book underneath my desk during his class but he didn’t feel it was right to punish me because “It’s just so great someone in this class loves reading that much.” And I wonder why people who knew me in middle school thought I was weird.
For me, summertime means three things: Sand, sun, and swimming. My mom calls me a fish. When I was about five, we joined a small country club. It was a great place to golf, if you care about that sort of thing. I was more into it for the pool. And what a pool it was. A giant body of crystalline chlorine, with a squared-off deep end and a diving board that took me three years to work up the amount of courage to jump off of. I would climb the steps, inch closer and closer to the end, scream, and run off like there was a shark waiting to bite my legs off the second I hit water. Of course the instant I managed to get over my fear and push off from the board, that’s all I wanted to do, all day long, until my legs gave out from underneath me.
Another perk this place had? A snack bar. Their chicken tenders and banana smoothies were my lunch many a day in my youth.
Some games I loved to play with my summertime pool friends were as follows:
Sharks and Minnows. I was always the shark because I was slow and couldn’t catch anyone, so the game would continue until I was exhausted and couldn’t go on.
Marco Polo. I was actually very good at this game, because I was a silent swimmer so the blind one never knew where I was. Sneaky!
Categories. This is a game for the diving board. As you run and push off, someone on the side of the pool yells a category, like “Comedy movie!” If you manage to scream out “BILLY MADISON!” before you hit the water, you survive to play another round. If you can only get out “BILLY MA-” you’re out. And some people would be jerks and yell out “Type of tree!” Which would make the jumper look at them with an expression of “Are you serious?” before splashdown ultimately robbed them of another go.
Sometimes we would have cookouts at the pool, complete with games like lap races with tons of clothing on to slow us down (which I’m surprised isn’t outlawed, since it really doesn’t help kids, um, not drown). We’d even have a DJ sometimes.
There were, of course, those days where we’d come to the pool and the alarm would sound, telling us to get out and head for shelter as a storm was on the way. Those were some of my favorite days. We’d all crowd into the snack bar, play cards, and eat.
A lot of my summer memories revolve around the making and eating of food. Dad working the grill for steaks, Mom making us scrambled eggs and English muffins for dinner, things deep-fried in lard. Eating Saltines dipped in peanut butter at my best friend’s house, while debating who was the hottest member of 98 Degrees (CLEARLY Jeff).
This summer has been odd. It’s the first one in a while where I’ve been actively working and very busy the entire time. Oh sure, I had a job last summer, but it wasn’t a job I liked very much (I have yet to get the smell of barbecued pork out of one of my shirts). Now, summer means something very different than it did when I was a kid. It’s always sad to go to work on a blazingly hot, sunny day and think to myself “I have to spend this gorgeous day inside? Blasphemy!”
Not that I am damning the fact that I have a job-in this economy, I’m grateful to earn a paycheck.
Another thing from my childhood summers that meant a lot to me was summer stock. I was a member of the Children’s Associated Summer Theater company for ten wonderful, dizzying, glorious years. They were truly the ten best summers of my life. Go to rehearsal for three hours in the morning, swim all day at the pool, go home, have dinner, sleep, wake up, repeat ad nauseam. Even when I left for New York last summer, I felt a twinge in my gut at leaving my beloved building on Summit Street. Well, this summer, I’ll be back in that building. But this time, as a teacher, not the student. We have truly come full circle.
Another part of my summer not to be forgotten? The Jersey Shore, where I am right now. I am sunburned, but I have seen the sun. There is still sand in my hair, but I had it between my toes all day yesterday. And I would go swimming if I wasn’t absolutely certain I would turn into a popsicle the instant I stepped in; I put a toe in yesterday and hit a note I don’t think I’ve been able to sing since puberty.
Another thing I love about summertime? The music. Like Christmas, there’s something about summer that demands a whole new playlist. Here are some of my recommendations for songs you should only play when the sun’s out and the top is down.
“Summertime” Kenny Chesney, from The Road and the Radio
“Summertime” New Kids On The Block, from The Block
“Dusk and Summer” Dashboard Confessional, from Dusk and Summer
“Summerboy” Lady GaGa, from The Fame
“Summer Nights” Rascal Flatts, from Unstoppable
“Born to Run” Bruce Springsteen, from Born To Run
“Thunder Road” Bruce Springsteen, from Born To Run
“Jersey Girl” Bruce Springsteen (performed live, in Jersey)
“Summer Wind” Frank Sinatra
“Boys of Summer” Don Henley, from Building A Perfect Beast
“The End of the Innocence” Don Henley, from The End of the Innocence(yes, I know, this is a weird choice. But whenever I made the drive with my mom to the country club for swimming, this song would pop up on the radio, making it tied with summer for the rest of my life).
“California Gurls” Katy Perry
What are some of your favorite summertime songs?