Monday, August 02, 2004

By Yul Tolbert

I think Bananarama and Ace Of Base are right: It's a cruel summer. More to the point, all summers are cruel to me. It's the worst season of the year, and the worst time of the year.

First of all, I have the misfortune of living in a part of the world where summer weather is often like thermonuclear heat! (And conversely, the winters are like the south pole of Pluto!) Damn, dang, darn! I hate hot weather! Anything over 80 degrees Fahrenheit is like the million-degree temperatures of the solar corona to me. And what further irritates me on the matter of summer heat is when weather reporters say things like, "We're going to have nice weather tomorrow with a temperature of 85 degrees." Eighty-five degrees! They might as well be talking about the surface of Venus where the average temperature is 900 degrees Fahrenheit! And while "Venusians" (a term I often use when refering to those who love hot weather) are enjoying the thermonuclear heat, I have to be broiled alive while working over a hot fry station at McDonald's. The fry station is hot enough without temperatures over 80 degrees (though the fry station heat does work for me in the winter). But with 80-degree-plus weather, I go out of my way to jump into the freezer to cool off every few minutes (if I get the chance)!

And then there's the displeasure of bike riding in summer heat. Here I am getting revenge on the petroleum industry and doing my part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions when I have to suffer for more than an hour-and-a-half commuting to work. When it gets too hot, I often take the bus to work. But that sucks too since bus service is adequately substandard. (What an oxymoron!) Aside from the often slow service, some buses don't have air conditioning for the summer. Yup! That'll "work"!

Also, I want to add that it's hard to be creative when you're constantly exposed to thermonuclear heat. That's a major reason why I tend to stay indoors in the summer. Of course that's helped me maintain my youthful appearance. I turned 39 last May. And when I told folks my age, they're like, "Dude! I thought you were 19!" Whatever.

Bugs are another classic problem of summer. I remember in August of 2000 there was some kind of monster flying ant invasion. At first I thought it was just me. But after I saw the TV news, I discovered that it wasn't just me. The whole thing looked like an ecological imbalance! There was also the time when a giant bee tried to fly into my room. How suck-worthy was that?! And how about the time when a bug flew straight into my eyeball while I was biking to work? A one in a quadrillion chance! Then of course you have the ever-present mosquito problem as well. And even though I often go out of my way to make sure that flies don't get into my house, they get in anyway!

Another of my displeasures with summer include thunderstorms. We get tons of those around here. One summer, I was seconds away from seeing the Sci Fi Channel broadcast of the movie Colossus: The Forbidden Project, when suddenly the storm knocked out the power. The power wasn't restored for four days. And without electricity for fans, my creative process had slowed down even further due to the heat. But things did eventually work out.

Similarly, I also had the misfortune of being caught in that giant blackout during August of 2003. As I was printing out stuff so I could empty my black ink cartridge, the power went out. It seemed like such "perfect" timing! And though there was hot weather at the time, it wasn't as hot as it usually is that time of the year. Nevertheless, things seemed to work out after that event too. (On second thought, maybe not. The day after the power came back, I went to a local zine fest that I now wish I had never been to.)

Are you seeing the trend hear? It seems to me that very notable misfortunes happen to me in the summer. (Misfortune is an exaggeration, but I'll use it here for lack of better words. Maybe I should get the thesaurus.) Summer is bad! Summer blows! Summer is the suckiest piece of suck that ever sucked! I guess it's no surprise that one of my favorite episodes of South Park is titled "Summer Sucks."

But wait! Maybe there are some good things about summer that I can mention. How about the summer movie deal? Like, when I first saw Jaws when it debuted in the summer of 1975, it scared me shitless. But I couldn't applaud loud enough when they blew Jaws up. And Though I hate holidays (there are too many of them), the 4th of July is one of the few holidays that makes sense to me. It was also in late summer 1992 that I came up with the idea for my comic strip/comic book series "Get Your Ass to Mars"--the story of a low-cost international, privately-financed human Mars flight.

But then again, I still feel compelled to focus yet again on the negative side of summer. Consider July of 2001. That was when I developed this horrible, horrible, horrible crush on a female friend of mine. Though I don't consider that to be a bad thing (at least not yet), it did result in some very bad things a few months later when the friend found out I had a crush on her. Yup! J. Geils Band was right. Love stinks!

My diatribe against summer obviously doesn't prove that summer is bogus. But it does prove that I'm being very emotional about the matter. And since this is an emotional concern to me, then I'll add that summer is what I call a hellish waiting period between spring and fall. And with fall being my favorite season (Insert Antonio Vivaldi's "Autumn" from "The Four Seasons" here), I'm always relieved when September rolls around.

Yul Tolbert is a cartoonist and writer from Detroit, Michigan. He is also a member of the Underground Literary Alliance and webmaster of the ULA Website. He also publishes many minicomics and zines including LPD and Zine Solar System. He can be contacted at yul_tolbert (whereit'sat) and P.O. Box 02222, Detroit, MI 48202-9998. Visit his website: Timeliketoons, featuring Gen X Suicide, Get Your Ass To Mars, Sideways, and more.

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