August, even with the Olympics and the presidential ballyhoo, is giving me problems. If I may kvetch just a bit, here's a short list of my least favorite late-summer things:
Wearing a bathing suit. My timing is off. When I was young and sleek the style was a modest one-piece suit that hid a multitude of sins. No thongs, no legs up to there. Bikinis came of age as I did, and they started out polka-dotted and barely provocative (see Annette Funicello, Beach Blanket Bingo). Now you need five times a week at the gym, implants, lipo, youth and good genes. And even then, there's cellulite.
Grooming. Parts of my body that never see the light of day three-quarters of the year are suddenly exposed in all their humble, flawed states. The time, focus and cost needed to keep things exfoliated, trimmed, non-chipped, waxed, moisturized, and sun-screened are daunting. I never seem to catch up, and long for the time I can hide once again in a natural state.
Heat, Haze, Humidity, Hurricanes. I don't mind a bit of glistening, but not at 3am. On the east coast, in this global warming era, August starts out like a steam bath and ends like... a steam bath. Definitely not "dry heat." More like a constant low-grade fever. I'm a natural redhead, so I burn and freckle. My favorite color is black and my favorite style is cover up, and I like wearing sweaters and jeans, not sundresses.
I grew up in Miami Beach and many of my August birthdays were spent in hurricane candlelight with the power out. I live up north in the summer, but still worry about Bob or Lester barreling up the coast. And as for thunderstorms, they're fine when I'm cozy in bed -especially if someone is holding me. But they scare me when I'm walking in a preserve, or flying. Lightning once came through my window in Florida and sizzled on the carpet by my bed. It also once hit my car, and I just kept driving with my hair looking like Clay Aiken's.
Reruns. If I see one more glimpse of Heidi Klum or Kathy Griffin or Bobby Flay or House Hunters, I may throw my remote into the recyclables. Cheap, cheesy outdoorsy Wipeout -type contests are appalling, and lousy sitcoms were bad enough the first time around. I sorely miss Bill Maher, who takes unusually long vacations probably doing naughty things. My two August TV havens have been the second season of Mad Men, set in an era I can remember. And So You Think You Can Dance, a competition of incredibly talented young dancers and choreographers, and judges with heart. But it's over.
Gardening. I do not appreciate having to water flowers, let alone feeding or pruning them. Things slow down in August and I forget easily, as flowers don't meow as my cat does when she isn't fed, and I can't be blamed if I don't remember until the leaves brown and the flowers dry to dust. It's a downer.
Dumb Movies. Why does every summer movie seem to include robots destroying cities or slackers with flatulence (or robots with flatulence)? I like small movies with dialogue that includes three-syllable words. August doesn't know from that.
BBQs. Raw, charred meat, incinerated S'mores. S'over. And clean up is rough. I prefer a warm oven, the smell of cookies baking and chicken roasting.
Insects. When I was a kid in Florida I once sat down and squashed a palmetto bug, which is a roach on steroids. It sounded like an explosion of plastic wrap. I also once put on a shoe and a scary-looking scorpion with a raised pincer was in the toe. I also do not like flies, mosquitoes, gnats and wasps. I hate killing them but what's the choice when they attack?
Yet, despite my complaints, when I hear those familiar evening insect chirps I'm reminded that days are shortening, and I feel the same expectation and anxiety I used to have when I knew vacation was over and school was starting, and the real world, with all its gravity, was returning.
For me, August is more melancholy than October. Fading too soon, I realize are farm stands displaying fragrant peaches and fresh corn, concerts under the stars, top-down drives, warm bay breezes, twilight walks for Italian ices, the cool shade of deep green leaves.
And The Olympics, a miniature world of hopes and talents, will capture us and then be over, with the loss of a bonded world moment. Political hoopla will morph into meaner, harder news. Reality bites like summer bugs. I guess what I like least, now that I think about it, is that despite the sometimes annoying languor, frivolity and openness of August, I start missing summer even before it's gone.
Lea Lane is founder/editor of sololady.com