Deleted Scenes: Endless Summer

It doesn’t feel much like it today, because it’s raining, and cold and generally miserable, but I’m not fooled. Summer is right around the corner, and no, I didn’t just know that from the fact that this week is our Summer Concert Guide. The signs, as they say, are all around us. My semester is over (yet somehow I manage to keep working late), and even in a flannel I’m too warm. Shortsleeves equal summer. You can’t argue with that math.

Summer is without a doubt my least favorite of the seasons. I’ve lived in New Jersey my entire life, and each successive summer feels worse than the last. I don’t know if that’s so much a result of global warming as it is my own escalating misery, but either way: ugh. Every time I think of that haze that seems to just sit overhead from May through August, my head hurts.

I used to just be able to turn on the air conditioning and sit in front of that for however many months I needed, or blast it so hard in my car it blew my hair back, but now I can’t even do that without some kind of lefty loser liberal guilt over freon’s general terribleness for the environment. I chew ice all the time anyway—which, depending on whom you ask, is a psychological sign of either general anxiety or sexual frustration—take your pick—but even chewing ice provides little respite in cooling the core when set against the climatic horrors wrought by July.

And you, dear reader, probably think I’m exaggerating, either for the sake of humor or just to fill copy late on deadline. Well no. I’m actually just that fucking miserable during the summer—every summer.

Why, then, do I persist in living in an environment where I’m subject to such disagreeable weather? Work, for one. I don’t know if Ottowa’s alternative weekly paper is hiring, but even if they were, they almost certainly wouldn’t let me bring my dog to the office. And family, for another. Short the members to whom I don’t speak, my entire family is about 10 minutes down the road, and though we drive each other crazy as any family should, it’s good to know they’re there.

Then there’s probably the biggest factor of all: my wife, who hates the winter perhaps even more than I hate the summer. Whose body seems to know the very second the temperature drops below 65 degrees and automatically triggers a complaint mechanism no less persistent and no more tonally pleasant than the alarm clock that wakes me each morning. Who seems to love breathing in that cloud of humidity that I keep being afraid of drowning in each summer. Who says to me as I sit, sweating in the swelter, “Why don’t we go for a walk?”

Of all the reasons I endure the awfulness that is a Jersey summer, she’s the most prevalent, and as I examine the prospect of this one coming, and my entire being wants to flee for higher ground, it’s her keeping me grounded to this wretched hellscape of sunshine and greenery. I don’t know if that’s love or stupidity. Maybe both.

But until it comes, I’ll take my licks where I can get ‘em. Today’s gray and rainy and cool and I’ve got the office window open to let the fresh air in, and if summer has anything to actually offer, it’s decent shows, so starting with Lo-Pan and Backwoods Payback in Philly this Thursday at the M-Room, I’ll be taking on the concert season with my usual fatigued gusto, even if it means driving to the show with the A/C on lower than I’d like.

However you feel about the three-plus months of awfulness the planet is about to unleash on our poor collective mortality, I hope you find something to help you endure. I’m pretty sure by this time next month I’ll be holed up in a cave with the lights off and a wet towel wrapped around my head.

Which, now that I type it, doesn’t sound like a bad way to kill an afternoon.

Thinking of winter,

JJ Koczan