Friday Happy: Hustle to the mall to get me a short set

It’s Memorial Day weekend. That means one thing….


Summer means stale strains of Sublime songs pumping out of speakers every 20 feet on the Seaside Boardwalk; long lines for a table at the Carrabba’s on Hilton Head (yes, Carrabba’s); Congressional recesses; the cool refreshing oasis of a movie theater showing the latest Pixar film; and, this year, probably a lot of long, lazy days lying out on the roof drinking Brooklyn Summer Ale and reading The New Yorker and lots and lots of comic books (and I do mean lots). It also means personal hygeine shrinks to a bare socially acceptable minimum and my wardrobe recedes into the essential vestments necessary to keep the more shocking bits of self away from scrutiny. Jeans will be put on reserve for formal functions, and only used begrudgingly.

Today’s Friday Happy will be a text-based adventure from a 2008 McSweeeny’s Short Imagined Monologue. Also filed under Things I Wish I Had Written, a file that is becoming tragically obese:

A Pep Talk
for the New Pair
of Shorts I Will Wear
Every Day This Summer.

– – – –

I understand you had higher hopes for where you’d end up. But the simple fact is that I chose you, not some fashion-forward type who’d wear you once every few weeks to lobster boils and garden walks and might even have you professionally laundered. Beyond that, I need to make clear up front that, for me, you aren’t leisure wear, weekend wear, or yacht wear: I won’t be wearing you in the off-hours when I’m not in a suit, because I don’t own a suit. I’m going to need to rely on you all day, every day, day in and day out, until summer is over or you fall in tatters to the ground and cease to be clothing anymore.

It won’t be easy. Washings will be erratic and, at times, infrequent. Creases and lines will become visible. A permanent outline of my wallet will form in your back left pocket. People will make jokes about you being able to stand up on your own. All sorts of drinks, foods, and smoking materials will be dropped on you; some of them will stain, some will bleach, and some will leave unsightly burn holes. At times, I’ll sleep in you. I like to camp, and I’m a bit of a drinker. There will theoretically be times when I wear you for periods of 48 or even 72 continuous hours. The basic rule of thumb will be that if I’m still standing you’re on duty.

Also, I lose at least half my guitar students in summer, so I’ll need you for day-laboring assignments that will involve exposure to anything from thorn bushes to roofing tar. You may find yourself asking why I’d opt out of wearing pants to protect my legs, and the simple answer is that after years of experience I’ve learned to endure scrapes, abrasions, and burns on my legs over being hot. I sweat profusely about the groin area whenever the temperature exceeds 80 degrees. Your tag referred to your fabric as “breathable,” and let’s hope to God, for your sake and mine, that’s true.

Despite the challenges, though, when all is said and done, you will know that it was you and you alone who got me through the summer. At the very least, take comfort in knowing that when it’s over it’s over—you won’t find yourself sandwiched in some musty thrift store awaiting an owner who doesn’t believe in underwear. You’re going out of here in a garbage bag. So buck up and let’s get on with it. A friend of mine is having a fish fry and he needs help cleaning 11 catfish he caught this morning.

Living in Ocean City, Md. one summer, I decided early on to see if I could get by wearing only one pair of board shorts the entire summer, my rationale being that between surfing, ocean swimming and dips in the pool a few times every day, the trunks would be in a constant state of tumble wash and rinse. This went about as well as you are imagining, and about a month in I ceded to decorum and added at least one other pair of shorts to the rotation. Growing up in Jersey, I had a friend Brad who, every day before we went to the beach, would squeeze some shampoo into his Nike hat and throw it on his head so that he would have a ready made wash job as soon as his be-capped head dipped below the waves. Somehow this worked for him.

Oh, what the hell, here’s a video too. It’s Will Smith Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff’s beloved “Summertime” circa 1991. If this song doesn’t fill you with the sunny happiness and anticipation of the season ahead, you have died. Please stop reading this blog, as it creeps me out.

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