Summer is a particularly excruciating time for straight men in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a time when droves of shapeless, genderless beings who’ve been enveloped in fleece for months suddenly turn out to be women, women with bare shoulders and bare legs, in tiny, gauzy little dresses, the corners of which get kicked up by summer breezes. Rick says he was on Hawthorne Boulevard yesterday, and such a woman, wearing nearly nothing, was on the corner shilling for Save the Children. He donated a hundred thousand dollars on the spot.
The beginning of summer is also a shocking time for those of us who, ourselves, turn out to be women. For Pacific Northwest women, early summer gives a dreadful turn. That’s because we haven’t seen ourselves naked for many months, it having been too damp and grim to ever get undressed. The first time you strip and give yourself the once over is not a happy moment. It’s a moment when you panic and start looking for sharp instruments with which to pare yourself down.
Luckily, summer weather makes it easier to exercise. Unluckily, summer weather harbors sweet icy treats at every corner. At a certain age, you don’t even have to eat ice cream to get fatter. You just have to walk past the dairy case at the QwikMart. The calories leap right out of the freezer at you and glom onto your thighs.
I am reminded of the old nineteenth-century advice to women to “shut your eyes and think of England.” Only now, England serves to distract us not from sex but from ice cream. Hail Brittania, Brittania rule the waves. Stonehenge, the Firth of Forth, Hadrian’s Wall and the Battle of Hastings. Butter Pecan. Aethelbert of Kent; the Tower of London and the Domesday Book. The founding of Oxford 1167. Vanilla Fudge Ripple and Neopolitan. The wool trade, feudalism, the Crusades, the Black Death. The Magna Carta, the Hundred Year’s War, the Tudors and English Reformation. Cherry Garcia and Coconut Bliss; Amaretto and Café au Lait. The Gunpowder Plot. The establishment at Jamestown and the Union Jack. Toffee! Chocolate Almond!! Oliver Cromwell and the New Model Army!! The Great Fire of London and the Bill of Rights!! House of Stuart, House of Hanover, brownies a la mode!! THE JACOBITES. ANTI CHILD LABOR LAWS. CONVICTS SENT TO AUSTRALIA. TRAFALGAR, WATERLOO. THE PENNY POST, THE POTATO FAMINE, PRALINES 'N CREAM. CHOLERA, THE UNDERGROUND, THE LAST PUBLIC HANGING. CHOCOLATE MACADAMIA! THE MOTORWAY SYSTEM AND RING ROAD 3!! – that runs parallel to Rocky Road, doesn’t it? ROCKY ROAD, ROCKY ROAD, ROCKY ROAD.