As we approach Memorial Day, our lives become engrossed with activity. We groan and stretch and shake off the dust of winter to indulge in all things outdoors. For us in the Northeast, we can finally be outside at night without fear of a slow and frosty death. The bugs come out, and make that constant, low, numbing drone. Joggers come out and prowl the streets like rich, starving feral dogs. Some wear those shoes which you must wriggle your individual toes into.
Cyclists streak through town and dress like Lance Armstrong but probably are Vice President of Sales – Midwest Division for a company specializing in doll parts. There’s even the occasional person on roller-blades, though their soul is a burned out piece of leather which lost its sheen in May, 1997.
What unites the colorful, designer-clad swarms of fitness seekers is the ritual of the back yard barbecue. It is a sunlight festival to consume seared flesh of cow and pig, imbibe on fermented grains, and pay tribute to the turn in weather. A savage celebration dotted with pastel. The barbecue is where you take your sweet, young girlfriend and some Mac n’ Cheese.
You are proud to show off your girl, curved and fit and brunette, the testament of your virility. She draws looks and you puff up and swell with pride. Engage smile, one million megawatts. Engage conversation, nod in approval, and avoid talk of Trayvon or Catholic Priests or Etan Patz or Iran or the wars and take time to lust over the pretty redhead thing drinking sangria. Through darkened, polarized lenses, her V-neck sticks with humidity.
The sacrament at these spring gatherings is the light beer, a beverage more American than Uncle Sam draped in an American flag after knocking out a Communist boxer. The light beer is the nectar of the Founding Fathers, a symbiote wrapped around the spine of American culture.
The Founding Fathers were men of vision. I am sure, in that sweltering room in Philadelphia, they envisaged an America where cans of beer would absorb and displace the heat from the drinker's hand, thus saving the beverage from a one degree temperature rise and assured ruin.
Praises to the highest for the wide mouthed vented pour system, the frost brewed liner, and the color activated temperature gauge. How, dearest Lord, how, can any human expect to tell if their beverage is cold if not by color-changing mountains?
With a head full of the frothy dew, and the sun radiating on your wintry flesh you bob and weave through the jungle of khakis. Avoid a nightmarish trampling under one hundred Sperry’s. Laugh an amiable party laugh, and never linger too long in one group. Accept the sun’s hot kiss, hurl the plastic disc, and let animal grease drizzle down the chin.
Learn names, be gracious but not saccharine, and hold eye contact. The khakis value their ability to smell out someone who is not their own. Smile and charm, charm and smile, and do not stare at their
open mouths full of bleached and pointed teeth.
Sway gently but do not stumble, even if the chilled, watery grains have control of your brain. Find your girl, bored, bronzed with sun. Thank the host, and promise you will attend that hot-room yoga session they have organized, even if you would prefer to masturbate with sand paper.
When the sky moves from blue to orange to red to black, and the stars begin to burst, you grab your girl around the shoulders, feel the warmth seeping from her smooth skin, and float back down the road towards home.
Only you and her and the ever-present drone of insects.