Raven Smith on stealing back the sexiest season

An illustration of two people having fun on a deckchair on a beach.

Sun-dappled days are sliced with latent horniness and lazy melodrama: let’s reclaim summer, writes our resident columnist

By Raven Smith   Illustration by Elena Xausa    Thursday 6 August, 2020   Short read

I find myself constantly thinking about summer, because it truly is the best season; a spell baked in fantasy. The summer prefix enhances everything: summer holiday, summer romance, summer blockbuster. It indicates fleshier outfits. Sweeter drinks. Recipes not stress-ipes. 

This year will be different, of course, simply because we’ve been trapped at home craving sun-kissed days and balmy evenings with chronic zeal. We had resigned ourselves to a summer at home reading news alerts and sitting up in bed all day. But lockdown is easing and we’re venturing out of the house. I’ve had little distraction from constant news alerts, so my attention span has whittled down to a toothpick recently. Most of my desires are short-lived, disappearing like a wave upon the sand. But the idea of summer, with its winding hours and thumbed paperbacks, still shimmers on the horizon. 

Lockdown was a bit like a holiday in terms of the empty hours, of waking up with no agenda and idling away the day. The headspace it offered was welcome, though it was also understandably filled with pandemic anxiety. We were inundated with corona worries, rather than the burning question of which beachside cafe to visit for lunch. But I can feel the tension lifting. The clouds are parting – like a reverse Game Of Thrones, summer is coming. Finally. 
With the prickly heat and latent horniness, summer is always lazily dramatic. I love epic drama fizzing with hazy, hot potential – think The Talented Mr. Ripley or Call Me By Your Name. This year, though, I just can’t be arsed with in-depth movie-like sagas spanning decades, full of longing and aching. I want the easy jeopardy of 90-minute romps, all melodramatic one-liners and joy. Wedding Crashers somewhere beachy. Beetlejuice in Hawaii. The Beach, but I play Leonardo DiCaprio and there’s an open bar.

‘The summer prefix enhances everything: summer holiday, summer romance, summer blockbuster. It indicates fleshier outfits. Sweeter drinks. Recipes not stress-ipes’

This summer is all about instant gratification, appeasing the months we’ve spent het up. Hop on a train to the nearest beach. Rent a pedalo. Order bar snacks for lunch. Climb a palm tree and shuck a coconut. Learn how to suck a coconut. Find a hot person and immediately engage in a kiss. Chase the red-hot passion of an illicit Mills & Boon affair. Encourage obligatory excursions between beach days. Lose a sandal. Lose the other one. Be barefoot and feel the hot sand on your soles. Drape yourself in loose-fitting cotton clothing. Ban elastic waists. Dive from a rock into blue waters. Snorkel. Misplace an afternoon to Martinis. And then another. 

Maybe spend the evening at a gig: MTV Unplugged, but all the songs are about summer. Embrace the patchwork tan lines of your body. Let your shoulders peel. Scent yourself with citronella. Wear swimwear at dinner because you don’t care. Appearances don’t matter in summer. All that matters is the heat and the company. 

Listen to your impulses. Listen to your mates. Listen to acoustic guitar near a campfire and pretend you know the words. Bat off the mozzies. Release those paper lanterns like they do in movies. When the temperature drops, grab a blanket and know there’s no work tomorrow. Stay up later than ever. Lie in. Reclaim the aimless. Reclaim the summer. Regrets are for autumn.
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