As a kid, summers were an endless series of cool events.
In the summer, I felt like I was some kind of upper crust businessman like Bruce Wayne, only elementary school aged, and I was like “What event do I have tonight Alfred?” Only I was actually talking to my mom and she was like “Get out of the pool and get ready, we’re going to Wildwood.” Throwing a tantrum about getting out of the pool to prepare for rides, games, and ice cream was just not good form.
I’d wake up bright eyed each day mulling over the excitement that I’d get into during the morning and afternoon and then like some sort of pseudo jet-setter, pondered what kind of shenanigans I’d be caught up in during the long summer night where I longed for the excitement I saw in After Hours and Into the Night. Some nights wound up being fairly comparable actually. A typical agenda might start out with breakfast and some cartoons, a leisurely bike ride around town, then a swim to cool off. Maybe a little action figure time to follow. Lunch was accompanied by game shows and reruns of Three’s Company, Brady Bunch, and Gilligan’s Island to name a few. The night? Forget about it – too many possibilities to even list here. Subconsciously I crammed in as much as possible.
When I was young it felt like the summer encompassed half the year. I really savored each day. The key was not paying attention to what day it was, because anytime I kept an eye on that calendar, the quicker the days started to dwindle down. Next thing you know, the back to school phase would set in, a period of time for me that was always in conflict in my brain. The lock-up of opposing mental forces was invigorating; it was like a grudge match between being extremely uneasy about the unknown circumstances of a new school year and the outrageous feeling of positivity that came from thinking that this year could be my best yet.
SPLATT! Squash that idea like a fly immediately. It was best not to think about school in the summer. Onto more important things like how else can I squeeze the most out of the remaining summer days? Some days would be filled with swimming, blasting music from my white boombox, hours of Sega Master System, and playing Batman with my friend and his brother while other days would be sprawled out on the couch in the air conditioning watching Friday the 13th movies and The Goonies and sipping iced tea while a crazy thunderstorm made my day absolutely perfect. Staying up late consisted of reading comics, snacking, and falling asleep while watching stuff like Tales from the Darkside and WWF tapes.
The summer season usually kicked off with a family trip to the boardwalk in Point Pleasant. Then sprinkled throughout the rest of the season we’d spend a sweltering day in New York City, a day of insanity on our friend’s Slip and Slide, pool parties, Yankees games, Keansburg, Medieval Times, Fireworks displays, and a day on my Uncle’s boat. One thing is for sure, summer trips and excursions were spread over the course of the season as intricately as peanut butter on Wonder Bread.
Nowadays, it seems like we have to condense all of the traditional summer events into one long weekend.
With the daily work grind, vacation days have to be meticulously decided upon and what they will be used for is usually contemplated well in advance. It really sucks that the spontaneity that was the foundation of our summers of yore is virtually non-existent in our adult life. The entire game is less about all the cool stuff we’re actually doing in the moment, but more about worrying if we’ll be able to fit all of it in i.e “I don’t know if we’ll have time” like Frank “The Tank” Ricard said in Old School.
At some point you just got to say F it and have some booze and unhealthy snacks (read more about them here) and watch It Follows on your iPhone in the hotel room…twice. It’s summer, so you’ve got to squeeze in as much as possible, just remember to enjoy it all. That’s precisely what we did on our most recent trip.
The July 4th weekend started a couple of days early for us. The night before heading down to AC, we decided it was a perfect time for Six Flags Great Adventure. I have some of the best memories of summers (and Falls) at Six Flags Great Adventure. Even though we have season passes, the place gets so packed when kids are off from school that we’re lucky if we squeeze in two visits randomly throughout the summer. This time around we hit it right on the nose and there were virtually no lines. We rode in the first row of Green Lantern, then went on Superman, took a brief respite on the Skyway to take in the park from above, and then our favorite ride, Nitro – twice! It was pretty awesome, and unplanned, which was the best part.
The next day we drove down to Atlantic City for our Independence Day getaway. This is where I will say…
TO BE CONTINUED! Thank you for reading and be back soon to join us on our next adventure!