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Ashley Wren Collins

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Your Recession-Proof Entertainment Guide to Finishing Out the Summer

Posted: 07/29/2010 2:04 am

The great flood for which Noah built an ark lasted 40 days and 40 nights. Little is known as to how Noah, his family, and all those animals passed the time, cooped up with nowhere to go while Mother Nature's epic flood, sent by God to destroy the Earth, raged outside. Peanuckle? Rudimentary Pictionary? Countless live action choruses of "Old McDonald?"

It's another 40 days and 40 nights until Labor Day and the unofficial end of summer, before the children go back to school and adults buckle down at work. And that's for the adults who are lucky enough to hold onto their jobs in this economy and not struggling with searching for work, wondering if the unemployment will be extended, and how they're going to pay the bills. We're busy waging war against our own unnatural epic disasters -- oil spills, leaked military secrets, the fall of an angel (Lindsay Lohan), and a large part of the country is battling the relentless heat wave promising to stick around in full force through August.

Let's face it. You've kept your eye on prices, but even after vacillating between Disney World and that big European vacation you were planning for the family, it's pretty clear that it's just not going to happen in these cautionary budget times -- not since you saw Mr. Webber next door lose his job, the kids substitute in endless loops through the sprinkler for the joys of summer camp, and the family brace for the possibility of needing to go on food stamps. If that can happen to Mr. Webber, it can happen to you.

You've already hit the free museums, the free concert in the park (homemade picnic in tow), and splurged for the family night out to see Toy Story in 3D (plus popcorn), thereby maxing out your 2010 summer entertainment budget. So how do you while away the hours in these trying times? How do you have summer fun, with 6 more weeks still looming? After all, proudly claiming "I got sunburn from sitting on my front porch!" just isn't very impressive.

It's time to hearken back to simpler times and gain more pleasure out of the everyday; you know, more of what we used to do when we weren't gripped by the technological and digital stimulation of cell phones, video games, and iPods. Think about the humor, laughter, and love you witness day in and day out, not just amongst your family and at work, but even in the strangers and scenarios you encounter while running errands or simply going about your business.

Recently, I walked home from an informal rooftop summer barbecue. As I crossed Second Avenue, I watched an adoring girl, arm nestled around her boyfriend's waist, look up at him through her lashes and coo, "I like to think the streets were named by our forefathers."

I also attended another dinner of a lovely couple with two teenage children. The daughter, an honor student jetting off to college in 3 weeks for a BFA in Screenwriting, lopes into the room, greeting-less and half an hour after dinner was called, picture perfect in the pinnacle of her teenage sullenry. "Mom," she says, in the most attitudinal voice she can muster, "For the rest of your life, you are going to have a problem with what me and my friends wear."

My boss, a New Yorker for the past 13 years, a brilliant career woman in financial services with a hefty load of responsibility, and an Ivy League graduate, discussed her weekend plans to visit a friend in Brooklyn. She smiled and walked away, only to turn back and ask, "Do cabs go to Brooklyn?"

My 3 year old nephew recently followed in his older brother's footsteps and had a big swinging bachelor weekend in New York City with his aunt. As I took him on a neighborhood walk to pick up pizza for dinner, he looked up at me and said matter-of-fact, "You don't have any food in your apartment."

This was shortly after he sat on the toilet of my converted 2 bedroom apartment in a 5th floor Manhattan walk-up and asked, "Where's your second bathroom?"

And then there's my Lithuanian super. I've lived in the building for over 6 years, and he still insists on calling me Juliet, usually over and over again, loudly, and in rapid succession. He'll scream it from afar, down the street, up 5 flights; he's either enormously pissed or slightly leering in that way that Robert DeNiro might be if he were Eastern European. "Juliet! Where's Romeo?" "Juliet! Lot of laundry!" or just "Juliet," followed by a series of unintelligible but loud grumbles when I clamor up the stairs and interrupt his recycling rhythm or manic mopping.

My Capulet-loving super is tame in comparison to any venture I ever make into a nail salon.

"Hi!," I say clearly, but discreetly. "I'm here to get a bikini wax." I smile to appear friendly and cast my eyes downward, modest and somewhat embarrassed.

"Ah! Ok! Bikini wax!" The esthetician shouts down the alley of women giving and receiving manicures.

"Oh! Bikini wax!" News travels like a telephone game to the ladies getting pedicures.

Another esthetician looks up. "She here for bikini wax! Wait."

The girl who will do the deed appears from the back. "Bikini wax!" she announces, like a grand finale, up the entire aisle.

At least a dozen pairs of stranger's eyes peer at me quizzically, judging my landscaping wishes.

Look, you don't have to be single or live in New York City to appreciate the characters that make up your daily life. Children's antics are some of the best free entertainment known to man. When was the last time you lived in the moment and stopped to really watch and really listen to the idiosyncrasies and nuances of life around you?

The movie of your life is far more interesting and wonderful that you remember. You've been so busy focusing on the entertainment of the future, instead of the entertainment going on right now. Enjoy your next 40 days and 40 nights -- even if you are in one place, make the best of it.

Chase those lightning bugs, chat with the neighbor as you pick up your mail, eavesdrop in on the conversation of the slurpee buying couple ahead of you at the cashier at the 7-Eleven. Summer 2010 is slipping away before our eyes.

 

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