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After a "spring" that was so relentlessly dreary and rainy that I feared Manhattan was going to float away, it is now summertime.

The timing is not appreciated. New York has an extremely small window for pleasure in summertime. The winter ends, the sun starts to come out and you have about two weeks, maybe three, in which all the women start wearing tight tanktops and the sky is clear and gorgeous and this is the most beautiful place on Earth.

Once that window closes, the city turns into an intolerable sweatbox, seven million people crammed into the eye of a needle, all burning and smacking up against one another. It's like one of those frat house pranks where 30 guys try to pile into a phone booth, except that the phone booth is on fire.

I think we missed springtime. That window never opened. The tight-


cut spandex sports bras were replaced by ponchos and bulky sweaters. It did nothing but rain, rain, rain, and now it has passed. From now on, it's just going to be every man for himself, a boiling, delusional cinderbox where your shoes melt into the asphalt and the hot dog vendors spontaneously burst into flames. Yay. It's summer.

I'm a grump about summer. Always have been. I'm not really sure what the big deal is. It's not necessarily that I'm a pale, pallid shut-in, though of course I am. It's mainly that everyone makes a big deal about summer, like it's supposed to be some three month vacation from the real world, and when it actually comes, they're either bitching about the humidity or wailing that the sun is shining while they're stuck behind a desk under dead gray artificial light for eight hours.

It would seem to be a leftover from when we were all students. What was better than summer when you were a kid? You could sleep as late as you want, and when you finally did wake up, you could just run around like a crazy person all day. The last day of school before summer was like graduating, every year; you said goodbye, wished everyone the best and then promptly entered an entirely new world for three months. No responsibilities, no homework, no nothing. Just three months of sports, relaxing and eating outside. It was as if the nine months of school never really happened; you could completely change your persona when you were away from everyone for three months. Remember how people always looked different when you came back to school? Particularly around puberty. You'd leave a kid in June, and when you saw him again in September, he'd grown two feet, had a beard and talked like Harvey Fierstein after living inside a grill for three months.

Not anymore. Summer is just three more months of drudgery and servitude, a distant memory occasionally visible from the tiny window just above your office's toilet. Summer is for the young, or at least for someone other than us. Summer now just means your utility bills are higher, and there's a bunch of listless, riled-up children running around all day, messing up your shit.

Now that we're old and essentially useless, summer has lost its entire flavor, yet we've romanticized it even more. Whenever people imagine hitting it big, living their lives without financial restraint, what do they see inevitably themselves doing? Moving to a beach community somewhere, or buying a deserted island somewhere, where they can frolic and sunbathe to their heart's content. They envision themselves lying around all the time, impressing their friends back home with their tan, drinking mai tais and taking morning swims. I posit they would be bored within a week. I posit that the beach is boring. If the sun wasn't shining on us, going to the beach would be the exact same thing as the rest of our tedious, pointless lives: just sitting around, wondering when's something's going to happen. The only way anyone ever puts up with going to the beach is by bringing something else to do, either something to read, or listening to headphones, or finding someone to talk to. Going to the beach is like riding the subway, except it gives you skin cancer. Besides, any activity that encourages men to wear sandals is just asking for trouble.

For one summer, urged on by a sunbathing girlfriend, I tried to be a beach guy. She seemed into it. We packed up a car full of lawn chairs and magazines and sunblock and headed to the New Jersey shore. We unloaded the car, set up shop in a little beach house and walked to our little private beach. She was so excited! I was so excited! The beach! Here we are! She rubbed lotion on me. Hey, that's good! Yah! And then we sat. Silent. For about 10 minutes. I turned to her. "Uh … so, how's things going at work?" She scowled at me, saying she didn't want to talk about work. And so we sat in silence for an hour, before I finally gave up and went inside and watched the Yankees game. Three hours later, she returned. I asked her how it went. "Oh, just lied around. It was the beach. Why'd you leave? It was fun."

(We were fortunate; nothing is more disgusting than a public beach. Why someone would want to float around infested, grimy water with a bunch of swarthy strangers and their screaming kids is beyond me. If you're thinking of going to a public beach, allow me to provide you with an alternative: Just shit in the tub, and then lie in it for a couple hours. Same experience, and you don't have to leave your house. Heck, you don't even have to get dressed.)

So yeah. It's summer. Whoopdee-damned-do. It's hot, miserable and expensive, and before you know it, it'll be over, and you can go back to freezing your ass off and complaining about something else. Surf's up, suckers.


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