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Summer Can Kiss My A**

I have reasons for hating beaches and the heat, and I'm not alone

By Gene LassPublished 29 days ago 20 min read
Summer Can Kiss My A**
Photo by David Law on Unsplash

One of my earliest memories is when I was a child, I was probably 4. I went to go play with some kids in my neighborhood, and because they were a few yards away, I walked across the yard rather than go around the block via the sidewalk. It was summer and so I walked barefoot through the grass, feeling happy and free. Suddenly there was pain in my feet and I didn't know why. I ran home, feeling worse pain as I ran.

My mom looked at my feet. I had stepped in a pricker plant and a number of tiny thistles, pale and almost invisible but sharp were in the soles of my feet and some were even in the tips of my toes and under my toenails. It must have been a half hour, but she got the prickers out. I didn't want to go outside ever again, but she said I should just wear shoes or sandals. I did, and found that with sandals, you could still get hurt. So I just had to watch the ground closely wherever I went.

Before that, I was the only baby my parents had ever seen that sweated. I was maybe 7 months old and my parents and grandmother had me outside in my little stroller. My face was wet. This confused my mom and grandma until my dad said I was sweating. After that they learned I couldn't be outside in warm weather in anything other than baby shorts and a t-shirt. No blanket at all.

Years later, my cousins and I were running around in the warm summer night, catching fireflies. Our grandparents called us in to cool off and have some water. I was soaked in sweat and my left ankle was swollen. My grandma looked at it and saw that I had at least four mosquito bites on the same ankle, and I was covered in bites elsewhere. My ankle was the size of a baseball. It looked like it was broken. She rushed me to the pharmacy, where we were given some sort of ointment to soak it in. This was on top of the sunburn I got every year no matter how much sunblock I used.

Second degree sunburn and sunstroke in Florida on my first visit.

Second degree sunburn in Phoenix on my first visit.

Second degree sunburn on my face and legs simply going to an outdoor rummage sale in Maryland.

Prickly heat just from trying to sleep in summer without air conditioning.

Prickly heat yesterday just from walking outside.

I hate summer. We've never gotten along.

You do you

Part of my problem with it is the bombardment of comments from people, memes, commercials, and ads talking about how great summer is. Here's an idea: If you enjoy it, enjoy it, keep your zeal to yourself and shut your gaping pie hole. Some of us are miserable here, and your exuberance makes it worse.

This extends to your insistence that things involving the summer months, and/or climates that are always warm, are inherently wonderful for everyone, and anyone who thinks otherwise is abnormal or insane. Some examples:

By Elizeu Dias on Unsplash

Keep your beaches

Every kid wants to have fun, and I was no exception. I'd watch tv or hear kids talk about things that supposedly were fun, and I'd ask my parents to go. Disney World is and was something that families often had to save up for, and that didn't happen for my family until I was in 6th grade, but beaches are common, and usually free. You don't even have to live by an ocean or sea to go to a beach. There are beaches all along the Great Lakes, and even by some smaller lakes in the U.S. So I asked to go to the beach.

I don't ask to go to the beach anymore. Well, of course I don't. I'm an adult, so I can just go, but even as a teen or when I was single, I rarely took a date to the beach. I can think of just a few times in a span of 12 years. Those occurrences can be summarized as:

1. I took a date to the beach the summer after my senior year of high school to see what it was like. I was bored, I got hot, and it was the first time I had seen my date in anything other than a long dress or jeans. I was rather shocked to see that the hair on her legs was so long that it waved in the breeze. These things combined made me rather glad I had to go to work. I was in such a rush to leave I accidentally slammed my hand in the car door when I closed it for my date and got a nasty bruise and blood blister on my middle finger. We never went out again.

2. A couple years later, my girlfriend insisted that we go for a walk on the beach. I kissed her the first time. She didn't like laying out, we just went for a walk. After that, we would drive to the beach to look at Lake Michigan, but stay in the car. We went swimming in the lake one time, and went to a secluded private beach another time, but in both cases we left after less than an hour because it was just boring.

3. Almost a decade after that, I took a date to Ocean City, Maryland because I was living in the area since she had always lived in Milwaukee, she had never seen the ocean. She was underwhelmed, saying it looked like Lake Michigan. Well, yes. Water that fills the entire horizon looks the same whether it's 80 miles across or 3000. The difference is salt water vs. freshwater. We got lunch and went home, visiting for an hour after a 90 mile drive there and 90 mile drive back. She complained about the heat, which would be expected given that she wore black jeans, a black leather jacket, and a black leather hat on a warm day. We never went out again and I saw no reason to go back to the beach with another date.

I visited a friend in Venice, California, who insisted we go to the beach because I hadn't seen the Pacific Ocean. I walked up to the water, touched it, looked up the coast one way, then the other, and we left. After I got married, my wife and I went to the Gulf Coast of Florida, near where she grew up. I walked to the edge of the water, touched it, and looked up and down the coast again. And two years ago, I visited a friend in Sarasota, Florida who wanted to go for a drive after dinner. He wanted to show me the beach. It was nighttime and still too crowded to even park. I stopped the car and looked out. I had seen the Atlantic before, and it looked just like the Pacific, and the Gulf of Mexico, and largely like Lake Michigan. A whole bunch of water and sand. Whoop-de-doo. I nodded, gave a polite but not heartfelt, "It's pretty" and kept driving.

My problem with beaches is, well, everything. Sand gets into everything. Stuff gets wet. In warm weather they're crowded. If you go when there isn't a crowd, which for me is a better alternative, you still get wet and sandy.

If I'm active when it's warm, I feel sick. Happens every time. So I'm not going to be playing volleyball or Frisbee or touch football or catch. That leaves the other option of tanning. I don't tan, I burn. I have no use for tanning, I don't think tans are attractive. I think it makes people look like handbags. If I was attracted to handbags I'd buy one and enjoy that in the privacy and comfort of my own home. I'm not.

For me, tanning on a beach is laying there doing nothing for at least 15 minutes, maybe a couple of hours. I don't enjoy any part of that. It's boring. Sure, I could read a book there, but by that argument, why would I do that on a beach when I can do it in the shade, or better yet in the air conditioning at home, or in a library, or a bookstore where I can get up and get a chai and a little sandwich or pastry? Doesn't that sound like a better option? It certainly does to me.

On the other hand, I have to admit, I do like swimming in a lake. I'll do that, but only when it's not crowded and not hot, such as in late Spring or early Fall. When I used to go to my friend's cabin in northern Wisconsin, I'd go in May or October when it was cool and I'd help him put his boat dock in and out of the water, and we'd swim and do all the outdoor things. But the one time I went in June, all of the things that had been pleasant became an endurance test and I just wanted to go home.

By Evangelina Silina on Unsplash

Picnics

When I was a kid I had a book called "Walt Disney's Story Land." One of the stories involved Mickey Mouse and his friends going on a picnic, and it was a happy story with happy little pictures. There was the usual checked blanket, and perfect green grass and trees, and everyone was clean and happy and the food looked delicious, including what always fascinated me - a cake with perfect chocolate frosting, topped with a single cherry.

I wanted to be on that picnic. I saw other cartoons with Tom and Jerry and others that were similarly idyllic. So as with the beach, I asked my parents if we could go on a picnic. And we did.

Usually we'd picnic before the 4th of July fireworks in our town. So of course it was sunny and hot, and we'd have sandwiches and Coke (or a Thermos of milk for me) and usually cookies. Everything was in little plastic baggies that we pulled out of our big Igloo cooler packed with ice. So all of our food tasted just faintly of warm plastic. And if there wasn't a breeze, I quickly got too warm, which made me feel sick, so I didn't really want to eat, and after I did eat, I felt more sick because I only got hotter. If there was a breeze, it blew our food around, or blew up the corners of our blanket so it wouldn't lay flat and nice anymore, and then the bugs would come. Ants and gnats and bees and mosquitoes. And almost before we got started I'd be counting the seconds until we could leave, embarassed and regretting that I asked to go in the first place.

If I went on a picnic with my grandparents, which was usually when we went fishing, it wasn't as hot, and Grandma would bring cold fried chicken and Twinkies or Ho Hos if not both. The chicken was good, but greasy, so I got messy and there's nowhere to wash there, so just like being on picnics with my parents, we had to wipe our hands and face with Wet Wipes, which made my lips tingle but never really cleaned anything. And while Ho Hos and Twinkies didn't taste like plastic when we took them out, and they were a treat, they still weren't the wholesome ideal of Mickey's picnic cake.

Cookouts and grilling

We have two separate, but related ideas here. First, a cookout is different from a picnic in that a picnic is food brought to an outside location and eaten as-is, on a blanket, without furniture. A cookout is going outside and sitting on outdoor furniture in a yard, on a deck, or in a park, to eat food cooked there on a grill or over a campfire.

Grilling is making food on a grill, and sometimes people love that so much they'll make food on a grill, but eat it inside.

I have problems with both of these things. My problems with cookouts are essentially the same as with picnics. I don't understand the fascination with eating outside. Instead of eating on a blanket, we're now sitting at a picnic table on your patio or in a park, but the wind is still blowing my napkin off the table unless I put something down on it, I'm hot, or we're worried about rain, and here come the bugs. To me that's just all sorts of stress.

One upside is, with a cookout if I have to pee, or I get barbecue sauce or mustard on my hands or face, I can go in and clean it off. Except uh-oh, we've attracted flies and bees with all the grilled food, so now when I run inside I'm letting them in the house. And who hasn't heard this, "Shut the door, you're letting the cool air out!" because air conditioning can be expensive. I would always think, "yeah, the air is on in there, and it's so nice inside. Why are we eating out here?" Thankfully, by the time I was in middle school I was so clearly miserable outside that the adults just told us to go eat inside and put some movies on. Much better.

By Kelsey Todd on Unsplash

That took care of that problem. But still, grilled food. What are we dealing with here? Usually hot dogs and hamburgers, or maybe chicken, and in some areas, brats or other sausages. Honestly, I've never seen the point or benefit.

It's not like we didn't have hamburgers and hot dogs in winter, when the grill was in the garage and there was a foot of snow outside. Of course we did. We made them in the kitchen, and they were fine. Better than fine, in my opinion. Because in contrast, when Dad made them on the grill, every single time, whether he did it, or my uncle did, or my friends' dads, they were out there with plates full of meat, and flies were on the meat before it was cooked, sometimes while it was cooking, and sometimes as we're trying to grab one off the plate to put on a bun. Why would I want to eat hot dogs that flies have been on?

Then there's that "delicious grilled flavor" people talk about. I don't care if you cleaned your grill today before you started. What you have on that surface is burned meat and fat. It's basically dirt and ashes. By the 80s some people were using coals with mesquite in them. I actually like that, but I'd still rather avoid the ashes and bug aspect. Plus, you can just get mesquite seasoning, sprinkle it on your meat, and cook the food in your oven or in a pan.

So from my perspective, the entire cookout experience is just adding bugs, dirt, and germs to your meat, while being hot, which also adds to mess on my face and hands, with no benefit.

Oh, also grilled corn - yeah, I'm one and done with that. In the husk being the worst option, because now I'm taking a food I normally eat boiled, with all the husk and threads removed, so that I can hold it by the husk and eat it with threads still sticking to it, and it tastes like ashes. No.

By Sandie Clarke on Unsplash

Gardening

If you like gardening, good for you. Bless the people who grow enough fruits and vegetables to sustain themselves, their families, and neighbors. I'm glad you enjoy it. Some of my friends enjoy creating order out of chaos, seeing things grow, being rewarded for their work. I like those concepts, but in other things, like writing. Plus, I really don't like vegetables. Almost none of them. So for me, it's a lot of work with zero benefit to me.

Plus, the entire gardening and yard work spectrum, from mowing the lawn to weeding to any kind of outdoor maintenance, is something I just abhor, for all the reasons I note earlier with picnics and such. Heat, dirt, bugs - particularly mosquitoes.

I really came to hate my yard as a kid. Half of it was wooded, half was grass. I actually preferred the wooded part. It was cool and natural. The grassy area was full of mosquitoes, and as the kid, I was expected to keep the weeds out of there, and later, to mow it. But we didn't go out there much. Almost never really. Because as my dad said, "You'll get eaten alive" by the mosquitoes. Or it was hot. Or both. So realistically we were putting in work 9 months out of the year, watering, mowing, weeding this area that we got no enjoyment from. Just last year Dad, who's now retired, admitted I was right. All the bushes and things in the yard aren't worth it, and neither is the yard. So my parents bought a house the same size as the one they had, with a yard so small it's barely even there, and he stays inside.

I honestly didn't like being out in our yard in summer at all. In Spring, sure. Going out while the air is cool, when there's a breeze, before the bugs have really gotten going is nice. But that lasts for like 3 weeks. By the time I was in college I was saying that when I was an adult, I'd just put a tennis court out there. Pave the whole damned thing or put in AstroTurf. I haven't done that, but I do like the yards they have in places like Arizona where residents just let the desert be the desert. No grass. Just red dirt, rocks, and cacti. You can still put a porch or deck out there, go right ahead. Cover it to give yourself some shade. Screen it in if you want to keep the snakes, lizards, and scorpions out. You never have to water rocks, and there isn't much point to weeding them.

Festivals

I've never understood why concert tours and festivals are in summer. Sure, teens are off from school, so they can go largely any day of the week to a big show. That makes some sense. But even in my 20s, if there was an act I really wanted to see, I'd go during the week and still go to work the next day, ears ringing.

And how many of the acts really enjoy being out there on a hot day in summer? Using just one band as an example, Pete Townshend of The Who talked about the first time the band toured America, and they were playing New York City in summer. He said, "It was hot and humid, we had never experienced anything like it! We asked the audience to blow on us to cool us off." Right. The UK doesn't typically get that hot, and that was just New York, not Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, Phoenix, or L.A. Playing in conditions like that can be exhausting. Even being in the audience for what's likely to be three hours, you the risk of dehydration and heat exhaustion.

I saw The Who play summer outdoor concerts three times, and each time, as the band took their bows after the show and the lights came up on stage, all manner of bugs swarmed the stage. At one of the shows, a moth flew down and hit bassist John Entwistle right between the eyes. He whipped out a handkerchief and waved it around to shoo the bugs from his face. Similarly, when my girlfriend saw an R.E.M. concert with her sister, some large bug flew down singer Michael Stipe's shirt and got into his pants.

Key problems

By Егор Камелев on Unsplash

Bugs

As I noted in most if not all of the examples above, I have a serious issue with bugs, with good reason. Maybe you've seen my article about spiders at one place I lived. Where I grew up, you didn't have to worry about bugs from the time of the first hard frost (usually in October) until Spring. There might be a few stragglers for a bit, except for the rare years when there was no snow, life is bug free from Thanksgiving until Easter, and that's a good thing.

However, they start coming back in Spring, and by summer they're everywhere. From ants building mounds in the yard and trying to come inside (sometimes succeeding) to gnats sneaking through gaps in your window frames or small tears in window screens, to the universal terror of mosquitoes.

How much trouble can gnats cause? I'll tell you. They're not going to hurt you, but they're gross. My best friend came over for dinner one night in summer, when my mom made chicken soup. It was hot but we were trying to save money by not running the air conditioning, so we had the windows and the patio door open, all of which had screens. Still, they got in, and as we ate, the ceiling above our kitchen table was crawling with dozens of them, some of which were dropping into our soup.

As for mosquitoes, maybe you're saying I should just put on some mosquito repellent or burn some citronella candles. Well, it's long since been proven that mosquitoes are more attracted to some people than others, and I'm one of those people. I used to go out slathered in Deep Woods Off and my family would be amazed, becasue the little bastards would still just land right on me. They'd be on my arms, legs, face, neck. In my mouth, in my ears. When I went to bed I'd take off my socks and there would be dead mosquitoes stuck to my socks. When I took Shao Lin Kung Fu classes, our teacher would teach us in a city park in the warmer months to get us some fresh air, and he always had 4 citronella torches around us. In summer I'd be dripping sweat, bugs flying around me. It wasn't nearly as bad as when I was asked to do yard work as a kid, but it was still annoying. Thankfully, martial arts are about concentration and endurance, but it didn't give me any additional love for the flying bloodsuckers.

Allergies

By Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

When I was in college, my family's next door neighbor never went outside. I don't think I even met her or her husband. She was inside all the time, and the windows were never open, even on nicer days. My parents puzzled at this, until they found out from another neighbor that the woman who lived there had terrible allergies. She only went out in winter, when there was effectively no pollen or allergens out there at all.

While mine aren't as bad, I now can relate to that neighbor. Allergy medicine has come a long way in the years since then, and I typically have to take a Claritin (or the generic equivalent) about every other day otherwise I start sneezing and snot runs out of my nose like a faucet. Sometimes there's enough pollen out there that when I go out to take out the trash or get the mail, it makes my skin itch. In much of the American South, pollen covers cars and other surfaces outside like yellow snow.

Back when I was younger, in middle school and high school, there were fewer options for allergy medicine, and they were often available only by prescription. Thus I had a serious of allergy-related sinus infections, one after another after another. My face would ache, my eyes would run, and I'd actually get dizzy from the sheer weight of the crap clogging my head. A few times I actually got sick from the sheer amount of snot draining down the back of my throat, and once I threw up, bringing up great gobs of yellow and green snot.

Around that time, swimming was a regular part of gym class at school, and the chlorinated water in the school pool would go up my nose and cause my sinuses to drain, so I always made sure that when we jumped into the pool for the first time that day, that I'd be toward the back of the group, because when I came up out of the water I'd have all sorts of nastiness coming out that I'd have to quickly blow out and push toward the pool filter before anyone would notice.

It's not that I didn't go to the doctor for it. I did. It was just the same problem, again and again, and we'd throw a different antibiotic at it and it would clear up for a while, then come back. The only thing that helped, really, was snow covering the ground, or me staying inside with the air on, which is what I've been doing for pretty much my entire adult life.

Heat

By Jarosław Kwoczała on Unsplash

I was probably more than clear in the examples above about how hot weather makes me feel. Maybe you think I'm some sort of freak. Well, I can assure you I'm not alone. Growing up in the Upper Midwest, I can tell you it's not unusual to see people wearing shorts when it's in the 40s outside, a temperature that has been known to make people in Florida complain about the "bitter cold" and literally put on a parka or heavy winter coat. Why don't they do that in Wisconsin or Minnesota, or even Siberia? Because we know all too well that it can get colder, much colder. So much colder, pretty much every year, that we know a temp of 45 isn't cold. In fact, as my aforementioned friend (of the gnats in the chicken soup story) agrees, the ideal temp for us is pretty much 60-70 degrees, but anything from about 40 and up feels pretty nice. Cold is below freezing (32 degrees, in case you didn't know). Bitter cold is when you're getting probably below 20. Zero is pretty bad. And it gets colder.

Some have countered that sure, it gets cold there, but in that part of the country it doesn't get hot. Wrong. I've seen temps over 100 up there. There are usually at least a few days in the 90s each year. As one friend of mine in St. Paul, Minnesota noted one July when the temp hit 100, the low temp 6 months earlier in January was -50. That's not counting heat index or wind chill, those are the actual temperatures on the thermometer. That's a difference of 150 degrees in the same town, and not for the first time.

Where I grew up, there were similar extremes. Any given year it's likely to be -10 at the depth of winter and 93 at the height of summer. Both are pretty miserable. But between the two, I'll take -10, because you can put on another layer of clothing, grab another blanket, or snuggle up with a pet or a loved one. When it's hot and you're already inside naked and the cooling effects of your cold shower and lemonade are wearing off, it's back to misery.

My sister sent me a screen shot of her desk at work last week. it was 95 and humid outside. Her office AC was set at 62 and she had her desk fan on full blast and she was still sweating and miserable. I only had to go outside to get groceries, and each time I did, the experience made me so miserable and grouchy I'm surprised I'm still married. But really the only thing that helps after being out in that crap, even for short periods of time, and with the air in my car set at 65, is to come home an sit in a quiet, cool, dark room. Anything else is just aggravating.

Think of this - watch your local news this week, or any time when it gets warm. Violent crimes spike in the cities. And crime goes down in the cold of winter. Heat aggravates most people, just some more than others.

In conclusion

When I was young, people would ask me if I was looking forward to summer. I'd always say "yes", because it meant no school. Nothing was worse than school. But summer as a season was a close second. Sadly our 2 1/2 months of freedom also came at a time when I hated going outside. What I really preferred was Christmas vacation, when I could go sledding, build snow forts, have snowball fights, see my grandparents and cousins. Food was better, clothing is more interesting, and there are holidays.

Now, I don't look forward to it at all. There are fireworks for the 4th of July, and my wife and I watch them from our living room, through the window, with the air-conditioning on, sometime after eating a nice dinner made in our kitchen.

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About the Creator

Gene Lass

Gene Lass is a professional writer, writing and editing numerous books of non-fiction, poetry, and fiction. Several have been Top 100 Amazon Best Sellers. His short story, “Fence Sitter” was nominated for Best of the Net 2020.

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Comments (4)

  • Lost in Writing7 days ago

    Summer is great, but I hate Winters because it is too cold to enjoy anything, Fall because it is the unavoidable beginning of the sad Winter months and well, I like the promise of Spring but it isn't my favorite either because I get Hay Fever. 🙃😂 But some places can be too hot, almost got a heatstroke in Egypt, and riding the underground in Rome in June is asphyxiating. Nothing is perfect.

  • I went to the beach last weekend and almost no one is there. It was crowded ten years ago. Everyone in Asia has decided a beach is just a place where you get skin cancer, and sand that you can't get out of your shoes for the next 3 days. Beach Upsides: 3 minutes of peace while the toddler digs in the sand before he gets hurt by something pointy. Getting stung by a jellyfish could be exciting.

  • Rebekah Conard29 days ago

    Yes. All of it. Summer is awful. Also, I loved school so summer being the "no school" season gave me anxiety/depression even before the heat kicked in. (A few years, my classmates crowded around to watch me cry when the bell rang on the last day.) Currently, it is "sleep with a giant ice pack" weather. The other side of the coin, Mt partner just released a song called "The Sun Is a Friend" after discovering that sunlight actually does improve their mental health. I just hiss at the dang thing. (The sun, not the song or the partner.) https://thelosslessfew.bandcamp.com/album/some-kind-of-resurrection

  • Kendall Defoe 29 days ago

    Well, you got me on this one. I am moving to a new place in two weeks, and I have to deal with the heat, all my other colleagues and relatives going on vacation while I'm stuck here, and a wasp's nest being built near my kitchen (no joke). Top Story?

Gene LassWritten by Gene Lass

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