Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The unofficial start of something great

Note: This column appears in the 5/24 issue of The Glendale Star and the 5/25 issue of the Peoria Times.

One of my favorite things that ever happened at my old job at a weekly newspaper in New Jersey was when we printed the blaring front-page headline, “Summer is here!” I realize it’s not necessarily the job of a weekly, community newspaper to break news, but it still amused me to imagine a local resident preparing to read the paper from his living room recliner and screaming, “Honey, get in here! You’re not going to believe this!” More important for my amusement was the date of that paper—July 6. Summer had unofficially begun almost two months prior, and had officially begun weeks earlier. Accompanying the headline was a picture of a boy swimming, who was, as it turned out, our reporter’s younger brother. We all worked really hard on that issue.

I am reminded of that little anecdote whenever something tells me that summer really is here, “here” now meaning the Valley. Back east, the signs of summer were much more subtle, so my previous place of employment—although it is surprisingly no longer around—can be excused for their tardiness. When summer arrives here, it at least has the courtesy to hit you in the face with a brick. 

I think all of us here in the Valley have our own arbitrary means of recognizing that the harsh season of summer has in fact arrived. Here is mine: when I have to use the A/C in my car in the morning. I leave for work shortly after 6 a.m., and when the natural breeze induced by my Kia traveling at upwards of 45 miles per hour no longer suffices to keep me cool and comfortable, I know the unrelenting season of pain hath arrived.

So, at the risk of breaking news on behalf of this newspaper without the consent of our editor, allow me to say: summer is here.

So what now? People react in various ways to this news. One popular reaction is to get the heck out of here as fast as possible, a strategy currently being echoed by the subscribers who are reading this sentence and nodding their heads from the porch of a Montana ranch. The rest of us aren’t so lucky. My own reaction has typically been to brace myself mentally and physically, bear through it bravely, and then, sometime around mid-September, raise my fists to the sky and scream, “MY GOD WHEN IS THIS GOING TO END?” (This I yell from a pool of sweat that conveniently hides my tears.)

Not this year, however. This year I am taking a new approach—I am going to embrace summer. Yeah, that’s right. Embrace it.

When the sun blasts into our bedroom on a Saturday morning and I think I have slept until noon but it’s only like 4 a.m., I will take advantage of the long day. There will be an extra hop in my step as I spend evenings checking for scorpions in our home with a blacklight, because I may end up a hero. I am going to live at the community pool on the weekends, and will not get upset that other people are there who are pretty much ruining everything. I will constantly spew out east-coast-transplant clich├ęs like a demented robot with a dumb smile on my face: You don’t have to shovel sunshine! You don’t have to shovel sunshine! I will take of advantage of the decreased traffic flow as I drive along with the A/C on level four, enjoying every moment before the sun kills my car battery.

Yes, summer is here. But this year is going to be different. This is going to be the best seven months ever! Who’s with me?

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