06/01/2010 11:54 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Summer Rules

It's going to be a long, hot summer -- a lot of us will be making our way to the beach, our mountain trails and our tree-shaded parks. My guess is, those of us that don't have our own gated water-view mansions will be sharing our nation's natural riches with plenty of others -- without the "good fences" that, in the words of poet Robert Frost, "make good neighbors".

So, in the spirit of camaraderie, and good neighborliness, I'd like to provide some suggested guidelines for us hoi polloi to follow as we converge on our beloved recreation areas. (I know I don't even have to mention common-sense courtesies like keeping the boom box volume at a dull roar and setting cell phones to "vibrate," hmmm?)

  • The ball's in your court. So, please keep it there, along with the Frisbee and the shuttlecock. I promise I'll set up my picnic site as far away from your makeshift field as possible, if you'll promise to have Beckham, Jr. bend his kicks in the opposite direction.
  • Kara-ok? Definitely not. Unless you can sing like Lee or Crystal, please, please don't set up a karaoke session outdoors. You might think you're that good -- but the park ranger we called to locate the source of the dying animal isn't going to be as nice as Simon Cowell when he finds out it was you.
  • Hoop Dreamz. Okay, two of the beer cans did make it into the trash can. The other four are lying on the ground some distance away, including that rim shot that bounced off the chicken bucket and rolled down the mossy hill into the sprinkler puddle. Basketball unfortunately doesn't come with a caddy, so be a sport and pick up the trash that didn't "score".
  • Speaking of puddles, why is that sprinkler water yellow, anyway? Oh. You know, that big sign back there wasn't talking about sidewalks when it asked you to "Curb Your Dog."
  • Mr. Sandman, I'm crying foul; you woke me up just by shaking your towel; sunbathing beach-side is now a point moot; with your itchy sand landing in my damp suit. (With apologies to the Chordettes.)
  • Ba-ba-ba-ba-bar-ba-Q. (With apologies to the Beach Boys.) Dry weather likely to keep many places off limits to open fires again this year, but, if you are going to bring out the grill, please brush up on not only the local laws but your chef's skills. We came to the shore to avoid the smog, not drown in it.
  • Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini. Please wear it. I know, I know, those one inch tan lines are really buzz-kill, but if I'd wanted to face a pair of exposed domes, I'd have gone to the beach at the San Onofre nuclear power plant instead. (With apologies to everyone.)
    • No Ifs, Ands, or... Okay, smokers, let's review it one more time. Sand in a one foot bowl equals ashtray. Sand in a one mile bowl equals beach. You put your butts on the beach and in the ashtray. Kool: digging your toes in the sand. Not so Kool: coming up with your half-finished filter tip.
    • If this blanket's rockin'... Somehow I'd hoped this excursion would be an opportunity for my youngsters to learn about birds and bees, not "the birds and the bees." When I gently suggested that you two "get a room," the response I expected was "Why certainly, ma'am, what a capital idea!" not "Go take a hike!"


    • Flush the toilet. 'Nuff said.
    • Use the toilet. 'Nuff said.

    Recreation and summer go together like oil and water -- so I'll bring the SPF 45 and we'll all head for the surf. With a little effort and etiquette, we should be able to get along. As long as we remember that it's "wilderness," and not "wild"-erness.