Opinion » The Rant

Summer in the South is No Damn Good



I hate summer. Summer wears denim cutoffs and tube socks. Summer starts every sentence with, "'At ol' boy ..." or "Hold my beer." I don't so much like spring either — too optimistic. But then I see Memphis in bloom, and I feel really bad about dissing spring. But then my sinuses clog like toilets in a frat house and stay that way until October. Summer requires me to take massive infusions of gin and tonics with lots of lime. For the malaria and the scurvy, don't you know.

I think I'm supposed to be romantic about summer because I'm Southern. I'm supposed to wax philosophical on the perfect tomato, give advice on the best way to shuck corn, and sweat like I'm in a movie adaptation of a John Grisham novel.

I grew up in Jones County, Mississippi, which is basically a swamp full of pine trees and bugs big enough to have FAA registration numbers on their wings. There is nothing romantic about driving from Memphis to Destin in June and murdering approximately 18,493,673 love bugs with the grill of your Suburban. There is nothing romantic about getting stuck to your vinyl bucket seat when you're trying to get in to Cash Saver and cool off by sticking your head in the growler station. There is nothing romantic about stepping in what you think is a mud puddle, but turns out your dog's feces has just liquefied.

Summer is the Donald Trump of seasons.

Surviving summer - REUTERS | MICHAEL DALDER
  • Reuters | Michael Dalder
  • Surviving summer

My friends up North tell me I won't complain about 96° and 500% humidity before noon once I have spent a winter in [insert Midwestern state here]. Oh. Yes. I. Will.

One of the characters in The Fault in Our Stars says something about how the existence of broccoli in no way affects the taste of chocolate. That's how I feel about weather comparisons. I will give them that it is easier to navigate asphalt that becomes melted than the snow that might melt upon it. But do you not get that quilted coats, hats, and scarves hide a multitude of sins? Also, it is always socially acceptable to put more clothes on, but generally frowned upon to take them off.

When Southern people of my generation and older start talking about summer, it's about catching fireflies or lightning bugs. I'm not sure what the regional differences are as far as who calls them what. I think it might have less to do with region and maybe more to do with whether you sit on the Gospel or Epistle side of the sanctuary. I never had much luck catching fireflies (I sit in the balcony, by the way), which was fine by my mother because it meant I ruined fewer mayonnaise jar tops. Everyone knows glass mayonnaise jars are the Tupperware of the South, and you never have enough of them. Especially now that Satan has decided to make them plastic. You can't pour up hot bacon drippings in a plastic Blue Plate jar!

But I digress. It also meant fewer impaled body parts due to poking holes in the tops with an ice pick. Not that our mothers would have stopped what they were doing. My husband once, while practicing an adolescent redneck version of zip-lining in his backyard, impaled himself on a tree (Truth. He has a scar on the side of his chest that pairs up with one on the inside of his arm where the branch ran through). Once he severed himself from his arboreal sword, his mother told him to wash his face and put on a shirt that wasn't torn because they had to leave in 10 minutes to go to his grandfather's and she was NOT having any of this foolishness like broken ribs or permanent nerve damage. Ah, the good old days!

What I do remember about summer growing up is that there was generally a thunderstorm in the afternoons. We don't really have those anymore. Inevitably, we would all be hauled out of the pool by teenage lifeguards drunk with power because a little storm would come up. We'd be back in the pool in just a few minutes, where we would watch the steam rising from the concrete and feel no relief in the water because it was just as wet out of the water. Of course, now the storm would come just as we're all trying to run into Kroger or Buster's on the way home, and it would just be a pain in the rump. Thanks, climate change!

Summer has many glories: watermelons, peaches, passing off wearing your bathing suit under clothes by saying you're going to the pool later when you really just haven't done laundry. But it will always be the season that starts its sentences with, "Hey, y'all! Watch this!"

Susan Wilson also writes for yeahandanotherthing.com and likethedew.com. She and her husband Chuck have lived here long enough to know that Midtown does not start at Highland.

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