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Elder Wisdom


1956: EXCLUSIVE Full-length image of stunt performers on Muscle Beach, Santa Monica, California. Four men lift four women in the air, all in bathing suits, on the boardwalk stage. (Photo by Gene Lester/Getty Images)
Gene Lester/Getty Images

This is the last week of school around here. Many years ago, I dreaded this time of year. Summer with small children was a procession of long afternoons, boredom-induced tantrums, sold-out day camps, and crotch-pot cooking weather. Every day, my wife and I had to think of shit for these kids to do, and then think of even more shit for them to do when they hated the first thing we did. We had to lug 5,000 pounds of shit to the beach. We had to arrange playdates with other frazzled parents. And we had to use us every last napkin in the dispenser at the ice cream shop.

No longer. The kids are older now. They can enjoy summer like adults do, which means that I can enjoy summer like adults do. All May and June long, I watched these poor kids haul their shit to school and back, knowing that they were just trying to run out the clock. They didn’t give a fuck about school anymore. Hell, the teachers didn’t give a fuck about school anymore, and the few who did were resented by everyone. But they made it out alive, and now school’s out. IT’S SUMMERTIME, MOTHERFUCKERS.

I no longer dread summer. My groove has slightly transformed. I am ready to do this shit. This summer, I’m gonna get my jollies every night. I’m gonna hit the beach, carrying only my shit and no one else’s. I’m gonna recline my Tommy Bahama beach chair—the GOAT of all beach chairs—all the way back. I’m gonna fall asleep at peak heat, let the sun beat me senseless, and get a wild-looking sunburn. I’m gonna get sand in a bag of Doritos and keep eating those Doritos anyway. I’m gonna crush a million Athletics. I’m gonna look at the news for roughly five minutes per day and then never think about it again. I’m gonna park my Bluetooth speaker next to my towel and play “This D.J.” by Warren G a great many times. And I still know how to make those ends. You don’t believe? Go ask The Twins, motherfucker.

I’m gonna go on overpriced waterslides. I’m gonna card a 100 at the shoreside mini golf. I’m gonna cruise around surf shacks and try on ugly hats. I’m gonna buy an expensive inflatable thing for the beach that’ll break by the end of the week, which is perfect because I never wanted to have to rinse it and deflate it and keep it. That fucking blows, and nothing this summer is gonna blow. I’ll still have work to do, and I’ll do it well. But I’m still gonna keep one eye on the clock while I’m banging out that copy, my friends. Because once my workday is done, the night will begin.

I’m gonna sit on a lot of outdoor patios and order a lot of raw seafood. I’m gonna waste money on overpriced mocktails. I’m gonna do pornographic things to a whole lobster. I’m gonna eat corn on the cob like it’s the first solid food I’ve eaten in over a week. Half of all meals I eat will require a bib. THE GRILL. I’m gonna fire up the grill and make steaks, chicken, dogs, shrimp, burgers, sausages, and then I’m gonna eat half of that meat directly off the cutting board. Then I’m gonna eat a bowl of cherries and shit my brains out.

I’m gonna feel horny.

I’m gonna hit the beach at night with the dog and watch him blast off across the sand like a maniac. I’m gonna wade into the ocean and let it kick my ass. I’m gonna go back to the beach the next morning and stare at the sunlight bouncing gold off the surface of the water. I’m gonna search the sand for dead crabs and live jellyfish. I’m gonna dig two holes in the sand and then make a tunnel between them. When I finally break through the other side to complete the tunnel, I’m gonna exult as if I’ve just finished off building the Empire State Building. When the surf washes all of that handiwork away, I’m gonna scream EVERYBODY IN THE POOL and watch my kids jump into the big-ass puddle that the water’s left behind. Then I’m gonna hop back into the Atlantic and play some ocean football.

I’m gonna check out everyone else at the beach and silently judge them.

I don’t need revenge as motivation to live well. To that end, ice cream. I am gonna eat so much fucking ice cream. I’m gonna stand impatiently in line along the boardwalk, and then ask a friendly Eastern European worker at the parlor for a single scoop order of mint moose tracks that will have three scoops. Then I’m gonna hop on a carnival ride and regret that I ate beforehand. I’m gonna rent a boat, just to rent a boat. If no boats are free, I’m gonna rent a Jet Ski. Then I’m gonna do some donuts on it. Then I’m gonna come back ashore and house a basket of onion rings. Then I’m gonna watch 10 minutes of the Olympics and feel nice things about America.

I’m gonna listen to “Jamming,” because I’m not ashamed to act like the dad I am.

I’m not gonna freak out about the traffic, or the heat, or the politicians. The older your kids get, the more you remember being their age. So this summer, I’m gonna be 12 years old, 15 years old, and 18 years old all at once. I’m only gonna have one mission, and that’s to have a good fucking time.

And I’m gonna wish that for all of you, too. Defector readers, I love you this summer. Kids young and old, I love you this summer. Caregivers male and female, I love you this summer, especially because I don't have to look after your kids for you. Dogs and cats, I love you this summer. Fantasy football freaks, I love you this summer. Haters and losers, I even love you this summer. Go get drunk and fuck. Go dance. Go bail on work at 4:30 p.m. to drink a margarita outside. Go to a baseball game and curse out the umps. Go play beach volleyball poorly. Go read trashy novels while sweating profusely. Go order those oysters and then order them again. Go do it all. The good time is on me, friends.

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