I went out to lunch with some coworkers recently, and I begged to sit outside.
“You’re insane,” they said, which is exactly what my husband says when I beg to sit outside in pretty much any month other than October or March.
“Come on,” I pleaded. “It’s so sunny and warm! It’s freezing in the office!”
They were unmoved. We ate inside.
“Don’t you love summer here?” I asked a friend a couple of days later.
“Um, no,” she said.
“There’s nothing you like about summer?” I prodded.
“Snowballs,” she said. “And it’s easier to park by the universities. That’s it, and both of those things are canceled out by termite swarms, hurricanes, mosquitoes and humidity. Summer here sucks.”
But I don’t think summer here sucks at all. Here are five reasons I love New Orleans summers, even if it means I’m crazy.
- Thunderstorms. The constant late afternoon thunderstorms are oddly soothing. I love the way the air feels just before and after it rains; I love the smell that comes up off the sidewalk right as the first few drops start to soak in.
- At the risk of A. stepping on Tim McNally’s toes and B. sounding like a total lush, I will go ahead and say that drinking is better in the summer. There are just so many perfect summery cocktails, from fruity Pimms Cups to bracing gin and tonics with extra lime wedges, to say nothing of crisp, chilled white or pink wines or a nice cold Abita Strawberry. Being slightly tipsy in the humid air reminds me, I think, of my summers back home during college, when I was obsessed with Nancy Lemann’s Lives of the Saints, and I would lean against my friend Antoine on his parents’ front porch swing and sigh, “Ah, wastrel youth,” while exhaling a perfect stream of cigarette smoke from my pouty teenaged lips.
- Tomatoes. Well, no, not just tomatoes. Also blueberries and peaches and watermelon and squash and all sorts of fresh produce. But especially tomatoes. There’s not much better than a tomato sandwich on good bread with salt and pepper and lots of mayo … except maybe my favorite lemon-and-garlic-heavy no-cook tomato sauce. I could spend an entire summer just drinking cocktails and eating fresh tomatoes and snowballs.
- Linen. Seersucker. Sundresses. All of my favorite clothes fit into these categories, and summer is the only socially acceptable time to wear the first two. I fell a little bit more in love with my husband when he tried to pinpoint when an event had occurred by saying, “Well, I know I was wearing seersucker, but I felt a little awkward about it, so it was either between Easter and Memorial Day or else possibly just like a week after Labor Day?”
- It’s OK to be kind of lazy. Yes, we still get work done, of course, but there’s no homework to fret about for the kids, and everyone is so wiped out by the heat that our expectations are low. Feed the kids cold sandwiches; let them run through the sprinkler in lieu of a bath one night; stay up late watching movies because sleeping in and being late for summer camp is not the same as being late for school.
And in the true spirit of summer-sanctioned laziness, I close not with a pithy insightful ending that pulls it all together but with a quote from one of my favorite Ellen Gilchrist short stories: “It was June in New Orleans, Louisiana, and it was exactly as hot as it was supposed to be.”
Bring on the summer!