First person there seems to be an assumption that summer brings on happy. (Hey! All right! Peppy! Peachy! Yeah!)
There's never any talk of hanging heavy blankets over windows or nailing up boards to block out all that sunlight. We're supposed to love it, crave it.
Maybe my Irish ancestors spent their lives in dank, seasonless caves. Summer makes me want to hibernate.
Winter days are good and short. Spring and summer days dawn when it should still be dark and drag on, cutting into the night.
And there's all that pressure to get out there, make use of those long hours in the lifegiving/killer rays. Knock yourself out playing tennis. Get gardening. So what if you have no yard or balcony? Go and guerrilla garden in a parking lot.
Summer gives solitary types lots of reason to feel SAD (seasonal affective disorder). You can smell it in the air: everyone else is having a barbecue while you're eating something from a tin; everyone else is entertaining their numerous friends, lounging on chaises longues on greenery-trimmed patios or cedar-scented decks.
They're serving the stuff they feature in that glossy magazine from the liquor store: "It's blissfully simple. Snip aromatic herbs from your garden or kitchen planter. Then rummage through the cupboard for other handy candidates to strew beneath tempting pre-dinner snacks or cocktail bites."
Summer means snipping, strewing, sipping and snacking. Excuse me while I pull the covers over my head. Wake me when it snows.
Some magazines celebrate the fussiness of Victoriana. They forget to mention the smoke of industrial progress that screened out the weak English sun. Victorians lived by gaslight. Sunshine and electricity combine to make modern summer a messy person's nightmare. Grot becomes glar-ingly obvious. Clothes that have looked okay since Victorian times in dim lighting are revealed as wretched rags in the cruel summer sun that shines favourably only on the new well, at least clean.
While others escape to that fabled place called cottage country, all I can do is take the streetcar east to country music. Walk out of the bright into the comforting Saturday-afternoon dusty darkness of the Duke of York at Leslie and Queen. Drink from a cool stream of refreshing draft. The sweet relief of Sweet Daddy Siki's karaoke matinee.
Sweet Daddy Siki was a legendary wrestling star. When I was a kid, Sweet Daddy's fans filled Maple Leaf Gardens. We figure he's way past official retirement age, but he's still using his formidable strength to haul the hundreds of pounds of gear required to set up his karaoke show.
The slip of paper on which singers write their song choice has a little picture of the bare-chested wrestler in trunks and knee-high boots.
Twenty-some years ago I saw Sweet Daddy Siki singing country with a band. He made a wrestler's entrance, wearing a gold cape and holding a mirror up to himself in each hand. He made records. He's reluctant to talk about his fascinating career and disdainful of the WWE that bears little resemblance to the old-style art of wrestling.
Sweet Daddy's hefty songbooks contain every genre of music. It's just that a lot of people at the show prefer George Jones and Merle Haggard. A jaunty gent with the thin moustache of a forgotten film star fries food in a little kitchen booth. The waiter clearly loves his work. Fellow sun-shunners are friendly.
Sweet Daddy sings Mother-In-Law in his laid-back croon. In a rare moment of reminiscence with familiar patrons, he says he met the hit-maker Ernie K-Doe right after the song came out, when Sweet Daddy was wrestling in Chicago.
Sweet Daddy lets no one assist in loading out the mountain of equipment except the waiter, who huffs and puffs under the singular honour. I revere Sweet Daddy Siki for surviving stardom and proudly carrying on with the show. He lives in the present. The sun has not set. I'll leave when it has.