Summertime has always had a soundtrack. The really best summer’s you’ll see by sunrise when coming back from an all-nighter. Slightly buzzed the lack of sleep aches in your body, eyes hurt, you’ll collapse but sleep fitfully, you haven’t stayed in bed until 2 in the afternoon since forever— and now you’re all out of sync, tomorrow is already ruined, but not that all-nighter, that one will live forever, you bet the house on that one, you bet the best on that howler of a time.
Image a teen club. The club from my town during summers operated out of the cafeteria hall at the high school. My pack of jackknifes, looters and thieves would bike over after stopping to play in the ditch with pollywogs. This all brewed until ready mob, we’d meet up and rot in one of our bedrooms until we couldn’t stand the smell of our adolescence any longer— we gotta get out of this place if it’s the last thing we ever do— that was gospel, our blues, a pack of troublemakers anthem.
Peak summer experiences have no roadmap, there is a sense of arrival, there’s no telling for sure how to find your way— in some instances it is place— the harbor at Avalon aboard our sloop, midnight dancing cheek to cheek with a bikini clad heartthrob in a scorching Scottsdale, with the old man at dusk trout fishing on the banks of the Trinity River, Boston’s Beacon Hill on the Fourth of July listening to Fiedler and the Boston Pops with real canon fire synced to the Overture of 1812. The glory of season is a cherry tree in a yard along the Puget Sound, a lost weekend on Shelter Island in San Diego, ballroom dancing on Nob Hill at La Colonial until closing time, then after hours at Baker Beach, then sleeping all day until dinner hour and audaciously getting a shower putting on your best threads, raring to go and to do it all over and over again. A proper summer rave requires you have a touch of madness in your blood, you are out of control, nothing can stop you, you will taste the sweet scent of summer, savor this delight, store it up in your heart, let the light give you peace and hope for more, then more still, there can never be enough deli trays, summer is too rare and too much the showstopper in your life. This is the standing ovation as season.
One long lost summer ago there was a trip in my ’39 Chevy to Tahoe, Yosemite and Big Sur. The great grand circle, my partner in crime Ralph Rose, long since passed from bone cancer, when we were still not yet out of our teens. Every day of that grand expedition was based upon a pair of aces standing at the end of their adolescence knocking on the door of the opening chapter to their adult life. What a send off that summer was. We returned changed by that summer.
Sprawled out on our backs with a stoned throng in British Columbia lost deep in the Kootenay’s along the banks of the Slocan mesmerized by the Northern Lights, then moon ring, then lightning, then satellite track, then full moon, then fog bank, then we decided, all of us committed to the one and the same eye-witnessed proposition, that by all in attendance none had seen a more phenomenal sky— ever— that night sky was a glory.
There was dinner for two at Jack’s— this a classic fine dining joint on Sacramento in San Francisco. First opened in 1863 frequented by Mark Twain, Clark Gable and Cary Grant— all and many more famous and celebrated enjoyed dinner for two at this fabled white linen establishment. The summer of 1980 I would have dinner for two at Jack’s, and since I was a street performer I paid my bill with a stack of one dollar bills— the staff all promised to come down to the wharf to see my show— they meant it at the time even if they never showed for my act. That evening a woman from London accompanied me to dinner, her name was Marigo, she was privileged and pampered and she was fond of this street performer. Together we went out on the town— it was a near miss that summer night, we came close to never being seen again, lost in the after hours, somewhere out there on the sidewalks, gallivanting by whim and wonder. It was a rare and spellbound summer night. Whatever magic means there was some of its mystery in the night air.
The best of my life has been found working during the hot days of summer. The street act was designed to take advantage of this season. Warm weather in the shade if there was sun, if it was too hot we do shows at night, always in shirts, shorts, skirts and sandals. Summertime was for fat hats and squirreling away a nut to make it through next winter. By spring you could see you might make it, that the season you love most is near at hand, that soon you’ll be dancing with her, stealing her charm, touched by her heartwarming light touching the skin on your face.
Like you I can remember the songs, the parties, the people. I remember sleeping under trees. I can remember wishing for more days like these. There’s still more, still more summer to spend and no time to lose. Be quick my friends these chances are short and misjudgment the thief can steal your chance in a flash. Today I’m planting my parasol in the sand. I’ve a book to read and a swim to take, and forgive the harmless glance at the bikini clad women and all the pleasures that come in the simplicity of enjoying such natural beauty— and appreciate that there are those who are so willing to share a simple pleasing passing feminine line and curve, a bit of the sublime, rumor has it that the bikini and martini are equally intoxicating— beauty on a beach is peak summertime fun.