Jun 21, 2016

Corn on the Cob, Fireworks, and Naked Men: 34 Reasons to Like Summer

Summer is my least favorite season, and we're right in the middle of it, with the heat, humidity, tv reruns, people forcing you to play outside, all of your friends away on vacation, long, boring days with nothing to do, and unnaturally bright evenings where the sun refuses to go down.

Here are the things I liked about summertime when I was a kid.  Maybe I can translate them into adult activities.

1. All of the boys and teenagers in the neighborhood walked around with their shirts off.  Even the adults, sometimes.  I remember two super muscular grownups sitting on lawn chairs on their patio, drinking beer.

2. The Denkmann Summer Carnival.  Games, cotton candy, and a sort of flea market where you could get comic books cheap.

3. The bookmobile came every Tuesday.  It wasn't just a place to get books.  I met lots of cute boys there.

4. Sitting on a blanket late at night to watch the 4th of July Fireworks.

5. Mother Goose Land.  It's not as lame as it sounds.  They had an Old West town, where you could ride burros and pan for gold.

6. A trip to Indiana to visit our relatives, but it was always followed by a horrible week camping in the Northwoods.

7, Nazarene summer camp.  I complained at the time -- nothing to do but Bible study, sports, and church -- but I got to hang out with lots of cute guys, and our counselors were always hunky teenagers.  Besides, I got to see Brother Dino naked in the shower.

8. Sitting in the kiddie pool, those round plastic things that you filled with a garden hose.

9. My birthday excursion, where I could bring 3 or 4 of my friends to any place in town that I wanted.  My birthday is actually in November, but I always postponed the trip to summertime, when the fun things like Niabi Zoo were open.

10. The Indian Pow Wow at Black Hawk Park.

11. Summer Enrichment Classes sponsored by the Department of Parks and Recreation.  I remember taking Spanish, astronomy, and archaeology. They also had physical fitness classes.

12, Sodas at Country Style.  In the Midwest, a "soda" is a concoction of ice cream and root beer or cola.  If you want the soft drink alone, it's called "pop."  I started calling it "soda" when I was living in California, which got me lots of weird looks back in Rock Island.

13. Swimming lessons at Longview Park.  One summer the teacher coaxed me into jumping into the deep end with the promise that if I drowned, he would give me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

14. By the way, the only time I ever saw African-Americans in the segregated 1960s was at Longview Park Pool.  In swimsuits.  Something to look forward to!

15. Dinners comprised solely of corn on the cob (which my parents called roshineers) and tomatoes.

16.  Dinners comprised solely of newly-picked green beans with bacon and onions.

17.  The Prospect List.  Every year the Nazarene Church had a contest to see who could contact the most prospects, people who had attended church or Sunday school just once.  It was lots of fun trying to track them down and hearing their stories: "Well...um...I found a new church that...um...I like better.

18.Playing in the sprinklers in the front yard.

19. Walking barefoot on the hot concrete of the sidewalk.

20. Sleepovers.  Ok, we had sleepovers during the schoolyear, too, but during the summer they often entailed sleeping in tents in the back yard.

21. Summertime boyfriends: guys who you would hang out with while your regular boyfriend was on vacation or otherwise unavailable.

22. Road construction.  It's a pain for adults, but for kids too young to drive, it's fun to watch the construction workers walking down the highway in their yellow jackets and sunglasses.

23. Summer replacement series.  Back before tv series began and ended year round, the summer reruns were sometimes augmented by 10-episode miniseries, weird comedies, musical-variety shows, and even cartoons.

24. Shakespeare, for free, every summer in Lincoln Park. You brought lawn chairs and snacks or even a dinner.  Actually, I didn't go to any performances until college, but I'm sure it was there.

25. Practicing for cross country in the fall by running five miles, all the way downtown and back.

26. Kentucky Fried Chicken. The stores are open year round, but for some reason we just had it in the summer.

27. Baseball games.  The games were rather boring, but I liked looking at the players.

28. Fudgsicles, push-ups, and ice cream sandwiches.

29. Watermelon.

30. My brother and I making extra money by mowing lawns for the Old Lady Schoolteachers and other elderly neighbors.

31. Bicycle Safety Classes.

32. Watching Days of Our Lives and One Life to Live with my mother.  I wasn't a big soap opera fan, but it was a bonding opportunity.

33. For that matter, being able to watch Dark Shadows all the way through, instead of catching the last fifteen minutes after running home as fast as I could.

34. Seeing miscellaneous workmen with their shirts off at unexpected moments.

So, 32% involve seeing cute boys or men, 23% food, 20% excursions, 12% bonding with family members, and 9% the heat.

I think I can turn those things into adult activities.

Only 67 days to go.

See also: Cruising at the BookmobileHow to Avoid the Top 10 Problems of Summer; Do Seasons Affect Your Dating Success.