Originally posted March 25, 2011...
Now’s about the time of year when I seem to sleep less and eat more and worry about things I can’t possibly control. I’m bad company, my writing is crap, and my hair is just stupid. I’ve noticed it especially in the years since being out of school that without a consistent routine or a project of significance, I tend to backslide a little mid-March. I think the technical term for this is Seasonal Affective Disorder, or LAME. I tend to deride such things since they seem like such champagne problems (“Ooh, it looks so chilly out from inside my warm house! I fear I shall ne’er see another garden party!”), but since it happens every year, there’s gotta be something to it.
Luckily, the move to the Big City has helped with weather-related blahs in a big way. Instead of Winter and Pre-Winter, Ontario has four seasons, all of which have their advantages. Fall here is gorgeous, what with the foliage and the sweaters. Winter, though slushier and somehow dirtier than the prairies, is blessedly short and not nearly as cold. Spring gardens actually bloom here, and smokers hunch less ferociously outside; they don’t look as if another strong gust of wind would render them homicidal. And the Summer! Now to be fair, I’ve only experienced one full summer here, but my Ontario visits were always in summertime and my boyhood memories of Ontario are full of summer fun (but aren’t everyone’s boyhood memories? I can’t recall a thing about the November when I was six). Anyway, the summer here is fabulous; long and hazy and sweaty and sunny. Many people here don’t drive (like me), and so forego the subway in summertime (like me), and take up room on the sidewalk, window-shopping and iPodding and trying to rationalize that it’s too hot for coffee so a Starbucks frozen thing made from hog fat is an acceptable substitute. Anyway, I know I’m romanticizing here, but surely it’s better to bask in the warm imaginings of a false reality than go outside and freeze my balls off.
Dream: Have the best summer ever.
Goal: Achievable. As it approaches, every summer seems like it will be the best summer ever. But the funny thing is, each summer very well could be the best one! Even the summer I got up at six-thirty every morning to work in a dusty library shelving ancient books until 5 was the best summer ever. Even that summer before I knew Jon with the string of bad dates like the guy who ordered two desserts (for just himself!) and the guy who said bookstores and libraries were “fuckin’ useless” was the best summer ever. Because it just is. There’s something about summer for me (and a lot of people, I think) where more things seem possible and the world is just brighter. But I mustn’t let another summer pass without taking full advantage of it. That’s what makes things the best ever.
Plan: Rely on past successes and risky new summer ventures to capitalize on the glory of June to Labour Day. Like:
Wear shorts. I’m really going to try this year. I feel like a goof wearing jeans all summer, but it’s that or my dress pants and I’m not stupid! Shorts are just so…short. Not all shorts are short, but none of them are long enough to cover that gross “trouble spot” from my ankle to my chest. When I parade my pasty, white chalk-sausage legs around town, I feel like I could potentially offend the entire community. Like a police car might pull up alongside me and say, “Look, Lady Godiva, there are children in this neighbourhood and your knees look like smashed Yorkshire puddings, it’s disgusting.” What I really need are long shorts that are like jeans that also cover my pizza gut. So let’s say 3/4 length high-waisted jorts. They could start at the thinnest part of my calves (my ankles) then rest comfortably at my ribcage, maybe with some intricate ruching to distract from my bulk (I’m not quite sure what ruching but I think it’s like bows and ribbons and stuff and it’s such a fun word to say. “Ruching.”) Or I could go the opposite route.
Take off my shorts. There’s a very popular nude beach on Toronto Island, which is a great summer destination. You take a ferry to this small island that has hiking trails and picnic areas and swimming aaaand the naked beach. Boner Cove, we’ll call it, or Weiner’s Point. I wholeheartedly support nudism in theory; seems to me you just have to let go of all your body image stuff if you’re bare ass in a public place and you’re not dreaming or engaging in risky sex-play. But when theory met practice on my first visit to Testicle Shore, I really had to steel myself. I was with a group of friends and we enjoyed other parts of the island, hiking and bicycling and such, all day long with me boasting about how excited I was to visit the beach at the end. Then we got there and I panicked. Shrunk into myself, as it were. It was so crowded and so public and so naked! And everyone seemed so cool about their nakedness, just as I thought I would be, but it was too weird. But I couldn’t back down, not then. So I gritted my teeth, dug in my heels (a great look if you’re naked) and stripped down. I walked about halfway down the beach then ran back, put my clothes on, and hightailed it out of there. It must have looked so weird, my studied naked casualness then my run for cover. Like I had suddenly remembered a previous engagement (“Just standing here with my weiner and–Oh no, I’m supposed to be dining at the Governor’s Mansion tonight!”). And on that busy Saturday it was a bit cruise-y. Lots of people there to ogle and be ogled, but it feels weird checking out someone who’s not wearing clothes. How do you imagine someone naked who’s already naked? It’s like eating tofu that’s supposed to taste like tofu. Plus some of these dudes were way too comfortable being naked, all bronzed up and shiny and stuff. I’m gonna market a nude bathers tanning oil and call it Dink Twinkler.
Anyway, I did come back to Ass Canyon, though, ashamed of my last visit. Only this time it was a dull Wednesday afternoon and I was by myself with sunblock and a book. The beach was nearly empty, just as I had hoped, and I laid my towel down, liberally applied sunblock everywhere, removed the last of my clothes, and got as comfortable as I could, under the circumstances. And truth be told, it did get comfortable, after a long, long period of self-consciousness. It really does beat the oppressive heat to lie on a beach in your birthday suit. Not only that, the die hards who would come to a nude beach on a Wednesday are not there to see and be seen. They are there to be naturists or whatever they’re called, hike around and just let it all hang out. I don’t see myself becoming one of those guys, but I really enjoyed my afternoon. I read a good book, had a little swim, and got a really even tan.
Summer’s no fun if you’ve got no one to spend it with. My ultimate wish for the best summer ever is to see all of you. All the people that I run into, or used to work with, or Facebook back and forth, let’s stop putting off that get-together this summer and get together this summer! If you can find a table on a patio somewhere, save a place for me. And if you don’t live here, visit! Don’t put off that Toronto vacation, before you know it the leaves will change, the sweaters will come out and it will be Autumn, and soon after that we’ll be stuck back here again, housebound and seasonally affected, in this long dreary period, after the Fall.