6.03.2003

 
Why does the allure of summer stick with us as adults, even though the major reason we always look forward to the sun’s approach and slow movement away from the solstice no longer remains?

Continuing the thread of commercials, I note every day that advertisers frequently play on the “summer’s here” theme around this time of year, building us up to buy more hot dogs and ketchup and encouraging us to take advantage of the lowest rates of the year at Bally Total Fitness, because hey, no one wants to try and slide their winter warmth into their svelte summer swimsuit. Car commercials tell us now is the time for road trips with friends, the time to do it in style with a new vehicle priced to move before the 2004s hit the lots. Kingsford says fire up the grill, Six Flags says take the whole family, and Major League Baseball still fails to attract people to the ballpark by hitting the Boys of Summer theme for all it’s worth.

The cult of summer underlying all these messages says to me that I must take advantage of these two and a half short months, that my time has already started disappearing and before I know it Back to School ads will attack from all angles and I can head over to Target and finally get a great deal on a little insulated sack in which I can carry my lunch to school every day.

But honestly, aside from the weather argument (and I understand the fact that for much of the country, the fact that it has become warm outside does create many opportunities not existent during other times of the year), why do we hold onto this cult of summer?

As children, certainly summer rolled off our tongues as this amorphous intangible entity of nirvana, a time when hours of sleep beckoned and homework became a thing of memory. For people under the age of around 17 or so, summer exists as a justifiable source of veneration, a time when life changes so greatly to an opportunity for institutionally-endorsed lethargy, for playing games with friends, going to parks, summer camps, vacations, or even just for laying around and half-lamenting the absence of things to do.

But that first job should dash that cult of summer, shouldn’t it?

That first job establishing the moment when we stop receiving a two and a half month reprieve from responsibility, when we don’t have to worry about making schedules and planning ahead to take vacation, when we send the old alarm clock on a leave of absence. And even if that first job does not pound this realization into our heads, shouldn’t the next job start to do that, that first real job in college we get to develop our professional skills? At that point, don’t we start to realize that for as much as we bitch about
school and class, we actually sleep more during the academic year, have more time to fritter away doing nothing, and less pressure to get our laundry done before the sock drawer turns up empty. Doesn’t that point mark the transition when summer becomes like any other time of year, and for students still in school, often becomes the busiest time of year?

So why so many commercials playing on the cult of summer directed at adults, trying to make them feel the pressure of a time of year that no longer belongs to them?