There's this thing that happens without fail around here when the summer sun finally peeks out. Actually, it begins when spring hits, but is simply a prequel to what eventually occurs:
People losing their minds. And clothes.
Am I exaggerating? Not much, my friends. You see, it has to do with the sensation of sunlight on the skin after months of gray here in Seattle that pushes people over the edge. We feel it first on our faces and hands, the only exposed areas, and that gleam seeps in and comes back out of the eyes. Widening with confusion, shock, and then ecstasy, a bubbling joy emits from the brain to the eyes, just like at surprise parties.
The next phase is the shedding of clothing with seeming reckless abandon, which puzzled me when I first moved here about 10 years ago. In those early days, I would check the temperature quizzically--70 degrees. That's what I'd thought--it wasn't that hot, and yet folks were sunbathing and strolling around my downtown Kirkland neighborhood like they were on a sizzling Miami boardwalk instead.
I used to be stumped by this reaction to the dawn of summer, but I think I've figured it out. It's just that addictive sensation on the skin--people want more of it, so more exposed skin and flying clothing is required. I get it. The sun feels good. It's a Summer Vibes Takeover. Or take-off, depending.
These days, my reaction to this "sun-sanity" (or the lack thereof) has evolved into a genuine amusement over the ways people around me embrace it. On any given day, at any given time, I can wander down the block to the lake parks and observe a crowd of glowing bodies refracting light like diamonds, and let me tell you, they're just as tough. It can be a typical scattered-clouds kind of day with a chilly breeze and still they persist. It's admirable. And hilarious.
There is a new phenomena that's caught my attention recently however, that's added a extra wrinkle to everything sun-on-skin related (sorry, couldn't resist). Usually one expects to see the ladies out getting their bronze on, or at least giving it their best effort, but more pervasively I've noticed it's the gentlemen that are dominating the beach towels these days.
It looks like these dudes have arrived straight from the office, having packed their gear with them that morning (this kind of preparation is also shocking, like a surprise party, specifically the awkward kind). Now they're getting a few rays in before the evening's events, which I'm somehow pretty sure involve swiping right. Clad in swim trunks, even though no one is dumb enough to brave the cold Lake Washington water when it's only 65 out at 6pm, there they all are, trying to ignore each other across their 4-feet-beach-towel-perimeters. It's a scene in the glowing evening light that might be tender if it weren't so tinder.
Ouch, ouch, I know--it stings like a low-grade sunburn which is all that's really possible around here right now--but I have my reasons for this opinion, guys. They've come in the form of these same dudes who've linked up with bros downtown, and who are now strolling around sans shirts being seen. They travel in packs and seem to be headed somewhere as they strut past first in one direction and then back the other way... There is no beach or water in the immediate vicinity, yet if I didn't know I was sitting at a cafe table, I'd think I was on a dock or at Sea World. I sip my iced coffee and avoid eye contact.
Haven't these guys heard of "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service"? Oh wait, never mind, the shirts are tucked into the back pockets of their cargo shorts. What a relief.
Despite my rolled-back eyes behind my stealthy shades, I know what is at work here--those summer vibes. And probably a lot of other uncomfortable factors. For now, let's just concern ourselves with the sun-sanity. It has proven itself a shared endemic around here, however, it doesn't mean it's an entirely negative one. In fact, to really enjoy summer, the sun is a must. Feeling it on one's skin is also a must. And to achieve this, some shedding of clothing and self-consciousness is required, and in the end, I can get behind that.
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