If I didn’t have the summer to look forward to, I might just cap myself.
Think about the glory of planning a summer. The forward-looking nature of the enterprise is inherently optimistic. You’re at the back end of a long winter and up ahead shining in the middle distance is the summer’s three emotionally clustered months. They are so gentle up there, so soft and seductive one tends to forget they’re hot. Then comes Memorial Day, a true time of joy, a time of debauched celebration, good light, pitchers of cocktails, and banter.
Someone always ends up in the pool. By Memorial Day I have always reached my lewdest state. I’m on fire. You really don’t want to fuck with me on Memorial Day. Maybe that’s because the girls look so fabulous. They’ve broken out the colors. Their tits, after months of winter hibernation, have come out to siren sound, a matching call out cut by commencement speeches sung to a tune no one wants to sing. The Rock n Roll moves outdoors, usually to disastrous effect.
There is still hope and expectation in the air on Memorial Day, but as the parading pageantry of the extended weekend passes, as the working world goes packing back to the office, the summer air constricts, and the compounded hangovers begin to build in the bloodstream until one day you look up and it’s late June. The reality of summer has come to sit on your porch.
In the city time drags. The commutes get ghastly. Sticky nerve endings and cotton candy make for a distinct summer anxiety. By July the big budget pictures roll into the cinema, a tacky assault on sensation. Suddenly the sun won’t go down. Yesterday the city sunlight spanked my eyes with its urban orange, and all the initial optimism I put into looking foreword to my special plans eroded into the hot thing itself. The Dog Days of summer have arrived. My room bakes. The air, so cooled and well circulated by the fan in June, now only recycles its own heat. I’ve run out of the reserve and patience needed to combat the humidity. The summer once so ebullient and charming suddenly sucks.
Bad tans haunt the night. The crime graph spikes, and by July I’m ready to fight. August at least has the drama of Labor Day’s exit from the season, but July is the Dog.
Robert Bingham is the author of two works of fiction, Pure Slaughter Value, a collection of stories (some of which originally appeared in The New Yorker and Might), and Lightning on the Sun. He was one of the founders of Open City Magazine and Books , was responsible for bringing David Berman and Sam Lipsyte’s books into the new imprint (or maybe it was their unpublished manuscripts that were responsible for the idea of having an imprint), was a contributing editor to The Cambodia Daily , contributed “Soft Money” to the essay collection Personals.
He died in 1999 at age 33.