When I was a kid, summer was absolutely glorious.
Once the dismissal bell rang on the last day of school, it was as though the sun had personally invited me to a three-month party – a party that included lots of swimming, a little bat-and-ball action, and creek adventures that started right after breakfast and ended just before dusk.
If I lean back now and close my eyes, I can almost smell the freshly cut grass. I can also smell the tanning lotion covering the beautiful neighbor while she lounged by the pool. And before you think I was a little creep, no, I didn’t stare at her while hiding behind a bush next to the chain-link fence that separated our property.
And even if I did, you can’t prove it.
But those sometimes crazy and oftentimes lazy days of childhood summers are long past, and have since been replaced by the oppressive, unbearable heat and humidity of this dreadful time of year.
Mary has much more tolerance for the heat than I do, and when I complain about it she’ll say, “It’s Alabama in June. What do you expect?”
She’s right. While climate change has certainly made things much worse, it’s not like it wasn’t hot during the summers of my youth. It was … I guess I was just too distracted by fun and frivolity to care.
In the era before video games, kids like me spent most of our days outside if it wasn’t raining. That’s where all the entertainment was found.
You’d play ball, swim, then just run around doing generic kid things until it was time for lunch. After you ate, you’d rinse and repeat until dinner. After dinner, well, the drill was the same.
I’m sure I got hot and I’m sure I sweated, but I don’t recall ever complaining about it.
But boy, do I complain about it now.
Even when I start a 5 a.m. walk, the heat slaps me in the face the minute I open the door. Most mornings the air is completely still, and after I’ve gone a mile, I’m already drenched in sweat.
And if there is a breeze it not only doesn’t help, it often makes things worse. It feels like how I imagine it would feel if a fire-breathing dragon burped on me.
I mean, summer breezes might have made Jim Seals and Dash Crofts feel fine, but that’s probably because they both had low metabolic rates.
By the time my daily summertime walking is complete, I’m utterly exhausted, ornery, smelly and look like I just emerged from a swamp. And when the sun rises and goes into full bake mode (thus triggering all dumpsters within a five-mile radius to activate their repulsive odors), I dread having to venture back out in it.
With two dogs that require multiple outdoor business trips I can’t avoid it, but I try to take them someplace where there’s shade for them and me. And to encourage a quick evacuation process, I’ll often sing soft, soothing tunes that are proven to promote regularity. (I’ve found that Escape: The Piña Colada Song triggers copious poopage).
The only positive to the hellish heat is walking back inside, where I’m treated to central air conditioning, whirring ceiling fans and even a box fan when I feel like running up the score.
“But, Scott,” you ask. “Surely you like going to the beach … enjoying the sand, surf and ocean breeze?”
Yeah, about that …
There was a time in my late teens and early 20s when beach trips were at the top of my list, mainly because of the nightlife. But again, those days are over.
I like looking at the ocean, but I like doing it from the comfort of the hotel balcony.
I don’t enjoy being on the beach because sand gets in my crevices, and I don’t like getting in the ocean because of sharks, jellyfish and things that want to hurt and/or eat me.
Looking at things positively, though, every day of summer that passes means we’re a day closer to fall. And even though Deep South falls now have muted colors and last only 30 minutes or so, they’re still a great relief from being trapped in Mother Nature’s oven.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but summer can kiss my ass.