I spent my first two summers in New York resisting the urge to buy an air conditioning unit, and walking around my apartment holding a small fan inches from my face. In retrospect, I'm not sure why I made that choice, though it was probably some combination of being young, lazy and wanting to be like Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch. But I'll always look back fondly on those summers, when it seemed time stood still in the thick humid air, and every moment extended longer than the one before it. Painfully hotter maybe... but longer!
The Seven Year Itch really gets the feeling of time standing still. There's this moment in the film, one of many when Marilyn walks downstairs to Tom Ewell's apartment to leech off his air conditioner. She looks up at Ewell while he's in the middle of one his deluded fantasies about her and snaps him out of it: "Hey, did you ever try dunking a potato chip in champagne?" she asks. "It's real crazy!"
As a kid, I thought this was just wild, and couldn't wait to try it when I grew up and turned into Marilyn Monroe. Her sentiment perfectly carried the magic of summer to me: The feeling that you can do any crazy thing you want.
As an adult, summer is the one time of year when you can hit pause on life without any lingering guilt; when you don't feel like you have to grow, change or rush toward any of the million things that clutter your brain the rest of the year. You can be anyone you choose to be -- and maybe all that is is the kind of person who can grill a perfect burger, as we'll demonstrate in the pages ahead.
In this spirit, our issue of Huffington features the types of people who come out of the woodworks during the summer, from six typical festivalgoers to diehard gas and charcoal grillers (as Craig Goldwyn puts it, "the flame war ... burns brighter than the debate between Mac and PC users.")
As for Summer, it can be anything it wants to be, too, and it's handed us a few themes to play with this year. There's punk, which lives at The Met, and in the obscure history of surf music. Stephen King brings us an exclusive excerpt of his upcoming novel, while a TV adaptation of one of his books is gunning to become this summer's critical hit. Then we have the 90s: Hanson, Wu-Tang Clan and The Backstreet Boys all return with new music in the months ahead.
A special shout-out to Andrea Nasca, who brilliantly conceptualized the look and feel of this issue, Wendy George, whose hours of research resulted in the stunning photography you'll see in the pages ahead, and John Montorio for his invaluable judgment and guidance amid a grueling weight-loss regimen as he prepares for summer.
We hope you'll enjoy the offerings we've presented here, and if you follow our guide correctly, you'll find some creative ways to use them. Because if you want to sit on your couch in lucite heels and watch Arrested Development, just go right ahead.
This story appears in the special Summer Issue of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, in the iTunes App store, available Friday, May 24.