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​Another deadbeat summer

by HPR Contributor | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Editorial | September 11th, 2019

Houses being torn down for th eNewman Center project - photograph by C.S. Hagen

By Zach Nerpel

Every Summer, I perform the same tired dance routine trying to convince myself to make the most out of the limited weather. Go outside and experience nature more, you schlub! Walk around some trees or something and observe the woodland sprites, in the process learning more about yourself. Take it all in, breathe the air deeply because this air is warmer and full of the manic rush to enjoy it while it lasts. Partake in the frenzy!

Go to a lake, you pointless cretin! Wade in the water while drinking a beer or hitch a ride on a boat while drinking a beer; exist next to the lake while drinking a beer, damn it! Relax, take a load off, drink a beer, become the lake. Inherit its stagnant wisdom. I don’t know, maybe even have a beer. Lake life!

Enjoy an outdoor concert, you uncultured philistine! You shut-in. You imbecile. Don’t you know music is better outdoors? How could your mental faculties be so entirely destitute as to not understand this? It’s more expensive because of the lack of substantial infrastructure, moron. This is what it’s all about, man!

Go to the fair, you heartless fiend! Eat the cheese curds and ride the ferris wheel and then next week, go to the other fair! The one in the street, you idiot. Eat more cheese curds and buy a strange yard ornament made from twisted copper and in the shape of a rooster - support the fair vendors with your paper money! Buy, buy, buy!

Have a bonfire! Mow the lawn! Travel! Jump out of a plane! Fight a shark! Overthrow the mad capitalist regimes of our time through abrasive, yet organized means and restore power to the people! Grill a burger!

It’s the same nagging voice every year whose motivations seem to revolve around guilting me into action because the weather is scarce. And I agree with it, mostly. I adore outdoor concerts and the fair is one of my guiltier pleasures. But every Summer ends exactly the same - with me feeling like I didn’t do enough.

But the reality is, there is only so much one can achieve. We are adults, after all. With jobs and… well, jobs. There is also a cap on how much enjoyment each activity yields and it’s different for every person. Lakes are some of the most pleasant things, but there are some real freaks whose identities revolve around them. No judgement, being a freak about at least one thing is a sign of a strong will, but two or three lake visits is plenty for me.

Furthermore, no matter the weather, there are many days that I prefer to lay in bed and watch a TV series. Again, though; the guilt. The sense of urgency as the days shorten in length. The feeling that we must experience the weather, even if we aren’t having fun anymore, not only because the weather is fleeting, but our lives are fleeting as well. With every passing Summer, we put another foot forward on the path to Death...and there are no Coronas in Hell.

This feverish mania almost certainly leads to the August burnout in which even the most delinquent barbecuers find themselves wishing for an evening indoors. The mosquitoes are no longer slight distractions but galactic annoyances and reasons themselves to stay home. Sixty-twelve-million of them. All demons and terrorists worthy of total extermination. “Well, without them, dragonflies wouldn’t have anything to eat,”and that turns into, “Yeah, well, to hell with dragonflies, too! Damn the whole food chain!”

And the humidity--Oh Lord, the humidity!

“It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity!” “It sticks right to ya!” “It’s like swimming when you’re out there!” These innocuous sentiments about “a different kind of heat” soon change their tone come August, though. The outdoors are no longer muggy yet charming, but experimental Soviet death chambers in which you can hear the screams of tortured children and communism reigns supreme. Oh, the horrors of a world in which the people hold the means of production! Man, it’s hot out there!

“Can you believe I mowed it just three days ago?” “It’s too dry, we could use some rain.” “It’s too wet, I wish it would stop raining.” “The Twins are doing great!” “Man, what is going on with the Twins?” “Where did all my money go?” “Do I even enjoy frisbee golf?”

The diminishing returns on Summer Fun™ can really be felt in the cult city of Detroit Lakes. It may have only been a Monday, but besides us, there were only a handful of other beachgoers. Perfect weather and still, even as the established work day hours passed, no one showed up. It was the same situation with the park where we grilled our hamburgers.

Nearly empty was the strange town, save for some young locals who my paranoia dictated were watching us and questioning our motives as if to say, “Summer is done. What are you doing in our esoteric stronghold?. Leave, as we cannot maintain our appearances any longer and you may be subject to reptilian sacrifice.”

The facade was crumbling. Soon, this town's entire identity will be washed away and its people will take their Zorbaz back into their subterranean dwellings where they plan for next year's wave of enthusiastic summer spenders. Or maybe they shift focus to ice fishing and snowmobiling and the likes, I don’t know. Not an expert.

If so, these weather-based activities, too, will experience their own rushes and burnouts in the continuous haste to enjoy the moment before the moment passes. To enjoy our lives before we are geriatric and complaining about how the thirty-something generation is ruining the world when it was probably something we did. Or didn’t do, when the weather was just right… in volatile climates.  

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