It is August. Regardless of the rumormongering of certain other media types, August exists, and it is August. Yes, this week has been almost chilly and damp in the Northeast. Yes, it feels like it's all downhill from here, like Memorial Day weekend was a million years ago, July Fourth was somewhere back in the 1800s, those perfect summer reads are going to go unread, your last-minute plans will go unplanned, and the fresh-faced optimism you held at the beginning, that this season would be different — that this would be a chance to really get it right, to have the Best Summer Ever! — has been depleted entirely.
Your stock of energy and and exuberance over wearing shorts or "going to the beach," and even that childlike sense of wonder over seeing a lightning bug or the rays of the sun into the late hours of the evening has been mostly used up, and you find yourself grimy and tired and not even tan, staring at a screen in some bloodlessly cold office as the clock ticks drearily on. Maybe you've found yourself contemplating how soon is too soon to start wearing your fingerless gloves inside again. Stop yourself, now, before you go down that tragic (and unsummerly) road. It's not too late! We can save the summer. We can!
That said, it's time to take stock. We're at a halfway point of sorts, because this thing doesn't actually end until September 21. Remember back in those hazy days of that month called April, Richard and I wrote about how to prepare for your summer? We are certain that all of you printed out our suggestions and stuck the page on the old fridgemafrator and have been checking the list and crossing off accomplishments over the past months. Now is the time to reward yourself for a job well done, and to remember that if you haven't done your job very well,
you are a complete and utter fail at summer there is still time! Here's our recap of what you were supposed to do, what we did, and, because this is a service piece, a suggestion to really push your summer to the limits of what it does best.
Suggestion: Stare at Your Legs. We told you to immerse yourself in your paleness and love it. Do you have a tan? No? You haven't been outside since June 2, and that was only to run across the street to buy a coffee when your Keurig broke, and you only got a tiny bit of sun on a spot above your left ear? You're doing just great! If you do have a tan, please report back how and why and what you're going to do about it. (Tan Mom: Call us, we need to speak to you personally.) New Suggestion: Experiment with self-tanner. At this point everyone who's going to buy that smelly old stuff has bought it already, and the stores want to make room for their Halloween decorations, so take advantage of the the clearance rack. Sales mean you can buy enough to make a bath of self-tanner and lower yourself into it, wallow about for a bit, step out, and pat yourself gingerly with bath towels that aren't white. This is the best way to avoid those unsightly streaks that separate the amateurs from the pros. Plus, it's fun to spruce up your look midway through the season.
Suggestion: Make a Bunch of Half-Assed Travel Plans. So, yep, we totally did this—we were going to go to Rockaway, because the New York Times really wants us to, they've been on us to do it for years. Then we thought maybe that new "Martha's Vineyard of the Bronx" would be nice. At one point we decided to up and leave it all and go to Seattle, or maybe Portland, for a week, but the plane tickets were too expensive. There was the invitation to a friend's country house, but she had to work, and any real vacation will have to wait til October, when the rates are down. But we still might go to Fort Tilden Beach, or to the Hamptons or maybe the Jersey Shore, or perhaps we'll take the subway out to far Brooklyn or Queens. On our staycation, we are proud that we made it to Williamsburg. New Suggestion: Vow to go nowhere. You will then be deluged with invitations to the best of places, we promise. It's up to you to decide if you'll change your mind and go, or deny everyone who desperately wants to helicopter you to their beach house on Block Island. Play hard to get.
Suggestion: Promise to Never Wear Flipflops Again. Promise made, promise not totally broken, unless you count when we go for pedicures and the entire week of our staycation and when we take the laundry across the street to the wash and fold. But sometimes, in fairness, we wear espadrilles. New Suggestion: Throw away your flipflops. They are truly disgusting at this point, and possibly carry a virus, but we still don't trust you not to wear them. Be strong. Put them in the trash and don't look back.
Suggestion: Peruse Your Wardrobe. We told you to buy tank tops, because you would wear them. How did that go? For us, pretty well! New Suggestion: Pull out the clothes you haven't worn and wear them while there's still time. It's the point in the summer that we call "Everything goes." Alternate Suggestion: Summer sales.
Suggestion: Consider Summer Savings. Did you save up some money, and then spend it all, or not save it up at all and still spend it? Good job. New Suggestion: Stop looking at your bank account for a couple weeks. Let's call this your financial vacation. I mean, don't do anything crazy, but maybe pretend like you live in Europe and everything's just shut down for the month, even if you only do this for just a day.
Suggestion: Make Ice Coffee. We have a whole bunch of this in the refrigerator, and we're never going to drink it, and that's just what we said we'd do, so we're pretty happy about that. Also happily, we did drink a little bit of it, which is more than we did last year. New Suggestion: Stockpile lemonade, and if you haven't had a lobster roll this season, the time is nigh.
Suggestion: Track Down a Summer Reading List. You were supposed to get it together and play school and read some good books, or, if failing to read the books, at least read the list that you put together to remind yourself of what you should be reading. We didn't do a list, per se, but we did kind of manage to read a lot. Some of my personal favorites over the summer have included Caitlin Moran's How to Be a Woman, and couple of great Y.A. novels I finally had a chance to read: Siobhan Vivian's The List and Donna Cooner's Skinny. I also re-read some old favorites, including Harriet the Spy, which is really wonderfully good and surprisingly darker than I remembered, and the last two books in the Harry Potter series. Richard loved Gone Girl and The Magicians. New Suggestion: Nothing new, really. Read more of the books on your list, or take a recommendation from these folks, or these, or maybe just go into your favorite local bookstore and buy something of the right size and weight that looks great, and go home and fix yourself a lemonade and turn on your ceiling fan and read it, staying up the whole night to finish it if you want because it's summer and you can.
Suggestion: Take Stock of Your Air Conditioning Situation. Surely you did this, given all the air conditioning etiquette questions we've received. New Suggestion: Enjoy the fact that maybe, today, you don't have to use it. Also: Spend a moment thinking about how truly great summer storms are. So romantic ... especially when you're inside with an air conditioner to get rid of some of that nasty humidity.
Suggestion: Promise Yourself You'll Make That Move. This was our little nudge to infuse your summer with a little more romance. You were supposed to go for it, ask your crush on a date, work up the nerve to kiss that boy or girl who's always hanging around with his or her eyes half closed and lips pursed. New Suggestion: Kinda depends how well the first move went. Stick with it, or try another move on someone new? It is not too late for summer romance. It is not too late for summer romance. If your first fling went badly, you're probably about ready to jump in the pool again. Timing, remember, is nearly everything. As is safety from head and neck injuries: Make sure if you're diving that the water's deep enough. Alternate Suggestion: Make a plan to hang out with that dear friend you haven't seen nearly enough (or at all) this summer, before we get into September. Go have lobster rolls!
Suggestion: Sweat. Check. New Suggestion: We can't stop you, and we don't want to try. Keep doing exactly what you're doing.
If you have accomplished our list, or most of it, we are very impressed and there's no way your summer has been so terrible as you imagine it to be! You've done a bang-up job, really. If you feel like you've only accomplished a few things, or none, take a deep breath, put your head down, and try harder. You can do it. Chances are, you've got what it takes to make this summer yours, and if you don't, you really shouldn't be complaining until September 22.
Images via Flickr: LincolnBlues; Jason Kuffer; Arnaldo Abba Legnazzi