I can’t wait until fall.
Before you raise those hackles, keep in mind that I’m not the first person to bitch about the dog days of summer. Way back in 1958, Minnesota’s own Eddie Cochran whined tunefully about the ”Summertime Blues.” (Yeah, because it’s so hard being a popular teen with a fun McJob and gobs of disposable income. Gag me, Eddie.) And who can forget Bananarama’s timeless jam ”Cruel Summer,” the perfect accompaniment to Ralph Macchio’s season in hell in The Karate Kid? On a more contemporary note, the title of the new movie (500) Days of Summer refers to an infuriating, commitment-phobic young woman named — duh — Summer. Makes perfect sense to me.
First of all, I hate wearing white. Even when I give white a chance, I’m not fooling anyone — I’ve always been a Rizzo, not a Sandy. To make matters worse, this summer has brought with it a particularly egregious trend: white skinny jeans. The fashion industry isn’t merely content to encase my meaty flanks in skintight denim. Oh, no! That denim also has to be white, a color that attracts ketchup, wine, garlic aioli, and any other foodstuffs I might otherwise be able to enjoy if I wasn’t wearing ridiculously tight pants. I know white clothing is supposed to enhance that summer glow, but writers don’t tan. No, we pose for photos next to tan actors, provoking fun Internet comments like ”DIABLO CODDY [sic] LOOKS LIKE A GOST [sic].”
Then, of course, there’s the beach. My sandy nemesis. Even Brian Wilson — who wrote such convincing paeans to the California shore — knew better than to actually hang out there. I live in Los Angeles, approximately 34 miles from the Malibu coast. This translates to a half day of driving, most of which will be spent in gridlock. Now, I know I sound like a curmudgeonly syndicated parenting columnist from Florida — and for that, I apologize. But see, I don’t surf, I don’t tan, and I do not like seeing men’s bare feet. If I want to get a taste of beach culture, I’ll fire up my season 2 DVD of Beverly Hills, 90210. The grunion episode (”The Party Fish”) is required viewing for anyone who wants to experience the majesty of the Pacific without actually setting foot in its polluted froth.
This isn’t a new attitude for me. As a kid, I spent every summer bent over a stack of books, obsessively writing detailed reports on each one. I fondly remember the scratchy couches and Freon-cooled bliss of the Lemont Township Library. My mother still has a newspaper clipping about a certain 7-year-old girl who wrote 144 book reports one summer. Yes, 144 book reports. In the summer. I suppose this was newsworthy because it was completely insane. But even now, I’d rather discuss the finer points of Charlotte’s Web (indoors, preferably with a dry martini) than play volleyball in someone’s pool. (Pool volleyball! What’s up with that? It requires a person to look attractive, stay afloat, and strike a moving object, all at the same time. Whenever I see a volleyball, I’m seized by a traumatic flashback to the seventh grade. I can practically feel the Jockey training bra billowing loosely around my torso. No, thank you.)
And finally, the less said about summer movies, the better. I appreciate a big, rowdy, bros-before-hos comedy as much as anyone, but I’m basically allergic to action franchises and ”family” fare. Unfortunately, I’m outnumbered in this regard. Not just by my friends — by America. Everyone, it seems, loves giant robots that turn into boats. So the noisy summer blockbusters roll out year after year, and I keep praying for December. God, I just want to see Cate Blanchett. Or Daniel Day-Lewis. Preferably trapped in an unhappy marriage or political situation. That’s what I call entertainment!
Luckily, I get to spend this summer indoors, just like I did in 1986. Specifically, I’m working on the second season of Showtime’s United States of Tara, along with a group of like-minded nerds who probably suck at volleyball. We have a freezer full of Popsicles and a powerful air conditioner. We spend our days scribbling plotlines on a board — it’s almost like school! Yeah, this is the kind of summer I can actually deal with: All write. No white.