I just spotted the first sign of summer. No, not a robin (we don’t have them in California). It was a group of women all dressed in shorts, tank tops and wearing flops, the official uniform of warm weather.
When I was a kid, summer stood out as oasis from all the stress of being a teenager–school exams, homework, dating, pimples, trying to buy beer and get into clubs with a fake driver’s license, and hoping that Annette would answer my love letter soon.
Summer represented three months of uninterrupted bliss, hanging out with friends, sleeping late, working on my tan, rock concerts with music so loud your ears were still ringing a week later, summer romances, cruising Main Street, making out in the back row of the drive-in theater, scarfing down burgers and milk shakes brought to your car by cute girls on roller skates, throwing up in the bushes in front of your parent’s house, or working/goofing off at a meaningless job to get a store discount and enough money to take your girl out on Saturday night and maybe get to second base. This is what most mature adults today think about when they refer to the “good old days.”
Today, school administrators push for year-round school so students “won’t forget.” Kids go to school now through June and start back again in August. Really? July? That’s it? One of the big perks of summer was remaining uninformed for twelve straight weeks and destroying as many brain cells as possible. We wanted to forget the previous year of school–being turned down a record 24 times trying to get a date for the junior prom, and having your teacher scream at you in front of the entire class for having the math skills of a fence post.
We are also now deprived of a summer’s worth of TV reruns. Yes, the same shows with the same adverting you had already watched on the three TV networks the previous nine months. There were no DVRs. No 300 channels, Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime to choose from. No video games either, unless you count “pong” — two straight line with a circle bouncing back & forth going “Ping” on one side of screen and “Pong” on the other. No wonder we spent so much time outdoors in the summer.
Now mass media offers us three “seasons” of new series & streaming movies that we can watch anywhere/anytime on our tablets or cell phones, but could never get to everything interesting, even if we watched 24 x 7 until our eyeballs fell out. I’m still trying to get through all the episodes of Gilligan’s Island (yeah, okay, I’m a little behind).
Kids don’t need fake driver’s licenses for beer anymore (“ugh, too fattening”), they just need a “condition” to get a medical marijuana card. (By the way, any of my readers have some helpful hints on doing that?)
And whatever happened to spending the summer at the beach–hanging out, surfing, ogling the women, wild night parties around the fire, with bongos & guitars, like in the movie “Bikini Beach.” Drive down to Santa Monica in the summer now and the beach is deserted, except for a few tourists. Not sure where all the students are (maybe cramming for their SATs). Of course, tanning is out now…something called skin cancer and premature aging.
(Old man talking to his grandson) “I remember in July 2014, where I spent the entire month binge watching all 202 episodes of “Game of Thrones,” while finishing up my masters degree in physics.”
Doesn’t quite cut it, does it? I’m sticking with my summer memories, thank you very much. Now excuse me, I want to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. Maybe I’ll go make sand castles on the beach, or visit the mailbox to see if today is the day that return letter from Annette shows up…
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Richard Allan Jones is the author of the comedy/adventure novel, “Drafted,” available at #amazon.com, as well as the soon to be released new thriller novel, “Classified Connection.”