Friday, May 26, 2006

Ode to the Onset of Summer

Ask Mr. Long Island

Remember the scene in one of the “Charlie Brown” television specials, where he’s all pumped to score the winning run and he goes into his slide, only to come up short of home plate by about 15 feet?

That’s how I feel heading into this Memorial Day Weekend. (Does the use of the words “day” and “weekend” in the same phrase constitute some kind of oxymoron?) This week has been one thing after the other and I think I ran out of gas sometime late Thursday afternoon. I don’t know when I’ve needed a break more than I need one now. Of course with both my sons’ baseball-related activities in high gear that “break” should happen somewhere between 1 p.m and 4 p.m. on Sunday, but it’s all good. The way I look at it, there are hundreds of parents spending their weekends in the hospitals visiting their sick kids who would gladly switch situations with me.

Besides, I have come to the conclusion that the Memorial Day Weekend is so great it should be a national holiday. Oh wait, it already is. No surprise there. I used to think Thanksgiving was the greatest holiday because it involved all the good things (i.e. great eating and drinking with plenty of football on TV) and none of the bad things (i.e. shopping for gifts and dealing with the heathen masses who only go to Church once or twice a year). Now I believe the best is Memorial Day. Here’s why:

It’s the kick-off to summer and the best weather Long Island has to offer.

The stretch from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July usually features great weather. Not too hot. Daylight as late as nine o’clock. After the Fourth of July the weather starts getting sticky and by August you have the windows shut and the AC going so much you might as well be living in Florida.

Going to the Beach becomes an option

Once Memorial Day goes by then going to the beach becomes an option on the weekend. Of course going to the beach is always an option when you live on Long Island but going without having to wear an overcoat or jacket is light years more enjoyable. Last year my summer was such that it was Labor Day before I realized I had gone the whole season without hitting the beach once, so my family and I went that Friday afternoon after work. What’s the point of living here and paying all those taxes if you don’t hit the beach at least once during the course of the season?


After Memorial Day there is a greater proliferation of the wearing of sundresses. ‘Nuff said.

The Memorial Day Parade

Each year the village I live in (Babylon) hosts a parade and is kind enough to direct that parade right past my house on Deer Park Avenue. So my wife, Sharon, and I invite who we can to watch the parade from our front lawn. Inevitably an impromptu game of running bases breaks out amongst the testosterone-carriers living in the neighborhood, and there are few greater joys for a parent than to watch a child participate in a recreational activity that does not involve an electronic gadget or, even better, reaching into one’s pocket to part with some hard-earned money. The smaller kids park themselves on the curb and wave those little flags that somehow materialize on mornings such as these.

Then the marchers come by, either carrying banners and flags or playing music that just lifts your soul and makes you proud to be an American. Okay, so maybe the songs themselves won’t show up on your i-Pod anytime soon, but there is something to be said for the tingle you feel when you hear the trumpets, drums, xylophones and such. Also included in the mix of marchers are Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, old cars, new cars, Veterans and elected officials all too happy to wave to the crowds, knowing they won’t have to listen to any complaints. At least the parade is over.

One year Bret Saberhagen – who lived in the Village while he played for the Mets – rode in a convertible during the Parade. I actually got excited realizing a MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL player went by my house. I quickly got over it, of course, especially since he was a Met and not a very popular one at that. But still.

Then the fire trucks rumble by and the parade is over. Just like that the crowds dissipate and its time for some serious downtime, relaxing on the deck in the back and ignoring the plank in the deck that needs to be replaced. A whole summer in front of us. A whole summer to look forward to. Listening to Yankee games on the radio. Concerts at the Jones Beach Theater. Hot dogs (not too many, now. Cholesterol, you know). Italian Ices after dinner. The consumption of copious amounts of watermelon immediately followed by the projectile rejection of watermelon seeds and the requisite contest to see who can spit the seeds the furthest.

Like I said earlier: it’s all good. Enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend, oxymoron and all.

Thank you for reading this column.

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