Here deep into another dazzling Midwestern summer, I have a confession to make. One many of my more macho Chicago-land peers agree with, but more privately. You see, I absolutely love summers; BUT mostly looking at them from comfortably inside air-conditioned homes and cars…!
Let me clarify. As a kid — in my case back in the WWII years — summers here were just as deliciously green, fragrant, and inviting as they are now. Until that is you actually stepped out into them. It was then the sizzling humidity of a summer afternoon, the lasar-like buzz of mosquitoes attacking in formation, and the gritty sand of body-to-body beaches meant that we proverbial “98-pound-weaklings” were going to be bullied in front of our girlfriends by those not-so-proverbial Charles Atlas hunks.
I mean, what guy my size could enjoy a season which compels you to strip to the waist, then strut your stuff, such as it was, in front of young Goddesses looking only for young Adonises?
It’s been more than 60 years since those anguished hours on the North Avenue Beach. I now confess to an enormous case of schadenfreude every time I meet one of my old tormentors, now bulging in outfits that betray how cruel time has been to those once bronze bodies. I’m not especially proud of my gloating, but it’s taken me a painfully long time to at long last experience Chicago summers for what they were truly meant to be. Not as a test of beach-side survival among the fittest… rather, as a gift of surviving all the pleasures of each new blue-sky day.
I’d like to believe this difference has been due my maturing realization that girls can love more than Adonises. That they can best love someone who loves them with equally enormous intensity. But to be perfectly frank with you and with my mute macho peers, I suspect this realization has been a helluva lot more possible now in clothes rather than in bathing suits. I mean, in the right outfit even my wife says I can look almost as fit as an Adonis.
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