Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Hot Fun in the Summertime

By Marion Winik

JULY 19, 1999:  Something about summer is rebellious and barefoot and staying up way past our bedtime. Something in our brains goes native; Bain de Soleil brews in our blood. As the earth completes its transition from chilly monochrome to tropical profusion, we go with it. From beef stew to gazpacho, from layers to linen, from bundled to bare. Summer's Santa: a lifeguard in a Speedo. Summer's angora: the down on your forearm. Summer's black: white. Toes that have spent months inside socks inside boots under wraps and galoshes make their social debut painted coral or cantaloupe or iced cappuccino. Shoulders appear, followed by midriffs and thighs. Hairdos are cropped, pulled back, piled up. Even with everything we know, the urge to turn a little bit golden is hard to resist.

We do our best to civilize summer. We air-condition our cars and offices to suit-and-pantyhose temperatures. We schedule meetings, make appointments, brew coffee, try to act like Monday is Monday and business is business and school's not really out forever. But no matter how we try to keep things running per usual, our souls won't cooperate. Beneath that power tie beats the heart of the girl from Ipanema. Tall and tan and young and lovely and on her way to the beach.

Summer is the season of lounging, the latitude of lassitude. Important exercises to know: Extend arm. Reach for tall glass. Repeat as necessary. Or: Jump in pool. Stretch out on inflatable mat. Hold for the count of 60. Roll over. For flexibility, bend to fasten sandals; later, remove. For cardiovascular fitness, hold breath underwater. For endurance, have sex. Very slowly. At best, the workouts of summer are nothing but fun and games anyway: swimming, biking, rowing at dawn, long walks in the limpid twilight. Beach volleyball, sandlot baseball, golf and tennis and badminton and croquet on the lawn. It's the season of sneakers, baby, won't you come out and play?

No matter how hard they try to air-condition you, steal a little summer every day. A cool dip, a frozen drink, a homegrown tomato. A lazy hour with a magazine. Nibble earlobes and melon balls. Put baby oil on your legs, put blond streaks in your hair, put sprigs of mint in your lemonade. This is the year you will learn to tie a sarong. Wear tangerine and fuschia, broad-brimmed straw hats, sandals of many straps. Behind sunglasses, we are all movie stars. In halter tops, we are all teenagers. At the water's edge, we are all children. Summer is here. Welcome to de island.


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