by Mel Zee
I hate summer. Yeah, I’m that guy.Everyone hates me for it, too cause I’m the ultimate bummer this time of year. When the general consensus is “life is RAD” and I can’t help but sulk anytime I’m away from my fan, it makes me seem kinda...I don’t know, goth?
Bike rides in the sun and beach days with beers and buds…man, I just can’t help but dislike it. It’s not that I’m an asshole, either—I love my friends, I love hang outs, the beach in the fall or early spring is fantastic (fully clothed of course), but summertime just makes me uncomfortable—in so many ways.
I’ve always disliked summer. I remember being a goth teenager with the whole heat-stroke-waiting-to-happen-package: thick white makeup, long, greasy black hair in my face, black leggings, long black skirts, heavy metal jewelry, black leather boots laced tight up to my knees and long-sleeved everything, even sweaterssometimes—just to prove to the godless Universe that I was cooler than everything—even the weather. Walking home from school became a near medical emergency every day, but the misery that came with it only fueled my fire.
I think one of my main problems was (and is) that I can’t get over my body being like a friend I just don’t like that much. I know, I know, my body is a gift (blah, blah) and I should appreciate and love it because it gets me places or whatever. But, man, cars just do a better job. I haven’t owned a bathing suit since I was probably eight years old. I’m the type of person that looks at a bathing suit shop and thinks “How do they stay in business?” I’m like a tween passing an iPhone 4 at the Mac store—“dude, that shit’s obsolete.” Today I overheard a woman on her cell phone say, “I need to get my bikini for this year” and I stopped and thought about how different I’d have to become to say that. It wasn’t that she was talking about buying a bikini so much as it was that she was talking about her yearly purchase of bikinis. Her closet probably has more sexy swimwear in it than mine does fabric. And then I realized that bathing suit shops actually do make money. It’s just methat’s weird.
I’ve never done well in huge group situations and in the summer, large amounts of people (excessively happy people, at that) are unavoidable. Beaches are my own personal nightmare; a grotesque spectacle of unnaturally tinted skin, beer smiles and beach bodies, sweaty blankets packed with even sweatier people and PBR cans as far as the eye can see. It’s like cruel torture to a goth. Sometimes it seems like it’d be fun, I’ll admit. It could be fun, in some alternate universe where I enjoy being seen in public and have urges to say things like, “Can you pass the Hawaiian Tropic? I missed a spot on my back” or “I’m gonna take another dip in ten.” But I can’t imagine who I’d be or how my black soul would reject me after that. Plus, I just don’t wanna be that sweaty from sitting. I can only take so many cold showers until I start feeling like I’m in a mental institution. And they don’t help anyway: the heat sticks to me like bad karma.
I like summer nights—like a good goth should. It gets dark late, which cuts the ever-pressing anxiety that bedtime brings to reclusive gloom-spreaders. Once that early morning sun starts to come up, though, and I get on a bus and hear every second person exclaiming, as if they’ve won some lottery, “Supposed to be 39 degrees today!” But they’re on their way to an office and I can only imagine them sitting in that suit, glued to a hot leather chair, cooking from the inside all day, fungus probably growing in their armpits and on the backs of their knees. I don’t see what the celebration is about. I just hear “My topical fungicide is only gonna cost me $39.99 today!”
Last year, after being in a car accident and breaking my leg, I experienced a brief sunny outlook on life and actually went to a lake in mid August. My friend and I packed up a car with normal people summer stuff: a blow-up boat with oars, sun tan lotion, a beach towel, a deck of cards and some books to read. I felt like a different person. I didn’t know who I was all of a sudden—I became beach Mel. My leg may have been broken, but it was healing, and damnit, I wasn’t going to waste my life or be unappreciative of my body anymore. I was going to enjoy summer. I couldn’t go all the way and buy a bathing suit (that would have been an identity crisis waiting to happen), so I wore shorts and a t-shirt into the lake. I got into a boat and rowed it. I swam. I lay on a towel and read a book, the sun beating down on me for almost an hour. It was amazing. People caught glimpses of my ghostly complexion and looked away in horror. But I didn’t care. I was alive and beaching it up for the first time in probably ten years. Of course I went with only one friend, someone very close who I could trust wouldn’t make fun of my inexperience or blinding white ass. We had fun. And I felt free. We took pictures and when I showed them to people, they scoffed and accused me of Photoshopping myself into them. But I had the tan to prove it. I went from pearly white to a sort of paper white. It was a success. I was a fucking pro at beach life.
This year, I don’t think I’ll go. It’s not a beachy year for me. When I see goth kids dabbing their faces and necks with black handkerchiefs, I’ll want to laugh, but I won’t because I feel their pain. I’ll probably get sympathy heat stroke. I’ll nod and smile and of course, they’ll sneer at me, eyeing my now ¾ length sleeves, exposed ankles, wrists and neck, my clothing made of some kind of light cotton and my shoes possibly of the sandal variety (though maybe that’s going too far for me). They’ll laugh at me, a traitor to my kind. But, when I get home, I’ll have a cold shower, put on my extra large Cure shirt, lay down in front of my fan on high and thank God I don’t have to pull my swollen, sweaty feet out of 40-hole boots.
Featured on hearty magazine, May 16, 2012