Summer is dangerous. Elsewhere in this issue, various possibly well-meaning writers will try to persuade you that there are “things to do” in this sunny season. Ignore them. They may have forgotten that summer is a time of riots, fires, earthquakes, drive-bys, baseball games and many other hazards, but I have not. Stay inside, or I cannot be responsible for the consequences.
A few reminiscences should show you what I mean.
One lovely midmorning last year, my wife and I strolled into an airy little French restaurant, where we were meeting Amy and Randy for Sunday brunch. They had arrived before us. Smiling, I walked over to Randy and slapped him on the back. “Hey, slobbo.”
Randy flinched. Amy blanched. She hastily explained, as my wife and I stood wringing our hands, that a half-dollar-size hunk of malignant melanoma had just been surgically excised from the very spot on Randy's back to which I had applied my inconsiderate palm. For the rest of his days, he would be subject to regular monitoring to determine if the operation had been performed in time to prevent the cancer's spread. And it was all because he had gone out in the sun.
My attitude toward sun and fun instantly began to change. I recalled other significant events. After having moles removed from his neck, a friend had a started wearing a hat all the time, then moved to drizzly Oregon. Remarking what a bright and cheery day it was, my mother had walked to church – and gotten mugged. At Disneyland, my family had fried like cockroaches on a griddle. Remember: The Greek sun god, Apollo, is also the god of reason. And reason is the enemy.
The day after the abominable brunch was Monday – the moon's day, Luna's domain – and Sol blazed its frightful opposition in the sky. Against my better judgment, I drove to the post office to mail a letter. Pulling up, I saw that a truck was parked in front of the street mailbox. Five, 10 seconds went by. Sweat was beading on my forehead. My hands were slippery on the steering wheel. This was not right. Then the driver got out of the truck. He was going to leave it parked right there! As he walked around the front of his vehicle, I jerked my hand brake upward and switched off the ignition. I was going to take this asshole apart. I trotted up to him just as he reached the sidewalk, and got as far as the words What the fuck do you think you're . . .
Then I saw the letter in his hand. Then I saw that his truck window was a full two feet above the mail slot, so that it would have been impossible for him to reach it from the cab. But his jaw was already clenched. “You got some kind of problem?” he spat. And his face was not the color of my face.
I had no problem. I apologized, spun and beat it in less than half a second, my mind whirling with images of hot weather and race riots and that other truck driver, after the Rodney King verdict.
I screeched my car home, ran into the house, slammed the door and hurled myself into an armchair, panting. God, it was hot! I'll just cool out for a while, I thought, and then . . .
The next thing I knew, the doorbell rang. It must be that truck driver. I didn't move. Then the banging on the door started. He saw me come in! Shit, why don't I own a gun? Oh . . . of course I own a gun. It's right here, stuck between the cushion and the armrest, where I always keep it.
My front door has a little peep port in it. I stole up and leveled my gun. I flicked the port open. And I shot the intruder between the eyes.
I opened the door and looked down. A man in a brown uniform was splayed there with his eyes open. A clipboard and a package lay next to him. It was a guy from UPS.
I parked the UPS truck where I knew it would be stripped within an hour. I finished burying the deliveryman in my back yard just before my wife and kid got home. I told them I was starting a carrot patch. A week later, I called J. Peterman and complained that the French hunting vest I ordered still hadn't gotten to me.
The carrots are doing well, but it's my wife who tends them, because that Monday was the last time I left the house in the daytime.
Which is as it should be. And if you're wise, you'll do like me. Telecommuting is ecologically sound. If you enjoy the beach, there are videos available that show waves crashing for hours. Go ahead and spread some sand around, if you like the stuff. It worked for Brian Wilson.
Your windows should be sealed and bulletproof, of course, but leave your curtains wide, wide open. There's nothing quite like California sunshine, so long as it doesn't touch your skin. Without it, you're just not living in L.A.