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...And The Livin's Easy

May 23, 2008 - Wes Burns
When you are a kid summer time is like breaking out of jail. You spend all year in some stone box comforted by varying degrees of crushing cold and blistering heat trapped with children so sadistic they give you a new appreciation for Midnight Express, just begging for the reprieve of summer.

The last few weeks of May are the worst. The doldrums of not having a government sanctioned day off have left a vast emptiness where your attention span once stood. The ever rising heat, when coupled with the ever present lack of air conditioning in the schools, creates a cesspool of short tempered teachers and irrational, violent children. Some kids throw books out the window, some kids heat metal strips on the alarmingly still running radiator to slap against unsuspecting classmates, some kids just stare.

The heat wears down even those with the toughest resolve. The smarter kids attempt to use their superior intellects to try and deduce a plan capable of extricating them from the building. Meanwhile the dumber kids place all their hope in the theory that cursing at maximum volume will somehow transport them somewhere cold. As elementary students we would spend the last month of class in this condition; then we were met with a pardon.

Sometimes it was stretched to excruciating lengths by the presence of snow days, sometimes you knew you still had to go to summer school, sometimes you knew you would have to spend the whole summer on a family member's farm but when the last bell of school rang you were free. The only people who knew how you felt had gotten their phone call from the Governor; I was happy to get my news from a bell.

After leaving school summer no longer holds the mythical appeal it once did. Your responsibilities no longer stop after that last bell so why be excited that the weather has become incredibly hot? Because summer is packed with things that only exist for the brief window of the warm months. You get the prideful ballet of lawnmowers grooming and manicuring lawns, all the while aware of the length of their neighbor's grass. The docile, shirtless old men take to their porches en mass, calmly cataloging the passerby. You see the walking people of the North East side of town, purposefully striding through the middle of the night. You see open air art shows and big, mom-jeans shorts. You get classic car cruises and pretty girls in parks well after hours. You get funnel cake and Shriner cars. You get root-beer floats.

So its not a call from the governor. And you still have stuff to do and bills piling up and the ever present threat of debtor's prison. Have some ice cream, you'll feel better.


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