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GLINT


Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? I could, but I’d be calling you out as one mean and nasty mofo. Summer is not like its more temperate cousin, nor is it as in-your-face-bad-ass as wintertime. But trust me, it is dangerous. Today, I was making my to-do list before embarking on a camping trip and I was struck by all the little ways summer tries to kill us.

1) The sun. A lady in my office has her tot’s artwork displayed on her door. One of my favorite pieces is a brilliant rendition of the sun as a yellow disc surrounded by little cut-outs of hands serving as its rays. It looks like it wants to reach out and grab you and give you a hot, evil hug you won’t forget. The sun during summer is the classic “too much of a good thing will kill you while you are too busy wondering how cute you look.” Sunburn, sun stroke, sun poisoning, blindness, cancer. The ban de soleil is the bath of slow death. Why is brown skin on white people considered so hot in the very same culture that tends to pooh-pooh actual brown skin on brown people? Tanning salons have been popping up around here at a ridiculous rate. Do we need those on every block too? (I’m too pale to make it one more city block.) I offer a heat wilted ‘yah.’ Is that a melanoma in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? We all get to pick our poison, I suppose. I’ll take my coffee and Camels in the shade, thanks.

2) The beach. Of course, many people love the sun’s immediate results and think nothing of the fried, spotted old people that may mar the pleasant scenery of summer. These shortsighted people take to our highways and byways every summer in order to cause horrific traffic tie-ups and go eat greasy food within sight of the ocean. The beach comes with its own host of horrors—undertows, jellyfish, unprovoked shark attacks, giant bellied middle-aged men in Speedos. Not to mention by mid-morning the entire stretch of sand looks like the floor of a bar. While you are jumping like an idiot over the hot sand to go up to the boardwalk (that was recently upgraded to concrete) and get something greasy for lunch, it is necessary to constantly look down to avoid the butts, beer caps and flip tops. You must also remain mindful of the roving bands of fried, spotted old people that are moving past you at the same speed at which they drove to the beach, freakishly focused on the blips and beeps emitted by their hand-held metal detectors. They are busy locating all of the beer caps that were left behind yesterday.

3) Bugs. It is too perfect an irony that the seat of our government was moved several times and finally got plunked down in a swamp where its gracious monuments are now sinking slowly into the muck. I am making plans for my cryogenic storage now so that I may be assured the chance to stroll past the capitol building once more and pat it nicely on the top of its dome. But what does this have to do with bugs? I, and many of the other stooges and mindless automatons, whose lot in life is to make paper for the government in order to add to the illusion that it is doing something important, have to live in, near, and around this swamp. Sometime around June, as you are getting tucked into bed at night by a swarm of attentive mosquitoes who trailed you inside, you begin to question the founding fathers’ mental acuity.

Dusk is apparently when the mosquito dinner bell rings. If you yourself choose to attempt to dine al fresco during this same time, I suggest you choose something nice and meaty from the menu. While you are chewing your meat, you can remind yourself how high and mighty we humans are in the food chain, while gobzillions of mosquitoes feasting on your own meaty flesh remind you that the insect kingdom’s power in numbers will no doubt be instrumental in their imminent rise to power as rulers of the earth. You pause. You feel the first symptoms of West Nile Virus coursing through your blood stream (reduced in the last ½ hour to more of a creek). You resume chewing thoughtfully as you imagine your cryogenically enabled return to this town in 3003, and the potato bug who will be ruling with dazzling equanimity and intelligence from under a brick. It will be a real improvement.

4) General violence and mayhem. Did you see that article about the deck collapse in Chicago? Every summer, something like this happens. Or there is a horrible electrical accident at an outdoor concert. Or lightning. Or a tornado. You don’t need to be a storm chaser to get a sense of summer’s violence. Sporting injuries abound. Even the fashion choices of the season give you a tip. Wife-beaters? Tank tops? Of course, summer comes replete with its own celebration of violence on a national scale—the 4th. I happen to hate the Fourth of July, but I have my own reasons. Oddly, it has taken up residence in my memory as the day that I became a woman, lo back in the mid-1980’s. I plan to record my impressions of this event in a memoir entitled “Red, white shorts, and blue: The story of my womanhood.” The saving grace of the Fourth is that it does have myriad opportunities for disfiguring injury—fireworks lit at home might singe your face off, and lighter fluid in the hands of the wrong moron becomes a fabulous diversion around the barbie.

Anyway, I think I’ve proven my point here. Summer is out to get you. Fasten your seatbelt. Wear your knee-pads, clamp on those helmets. Slather yourselves with insect repellent and sun block. Wear long pants in the woods. Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones who make it.


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