Monday, July 28, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

The noise of summer

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I LOVE SUMMER because the beautiful weather is enthralling, the long days are enchanting, and the events are entertaining. There's so much to love I can't fit it all in one column, so rather than trying to do that, I'll just tell you what I hate about summer.

Maybe I'm a curmudgeon for saying this, but I can't wait until it gets cold again. Not because I like cold weather, but because freezing temperatures curtail much of the foolishness that summer seems to invite.

When summer rolls around, a fleet of old cars hits the road with concert-quality stereo systems. As they roll through town, rattling their rusty fenders and flaunting their oversize tires, I am forced to listen to the profanity-laced musical stylings of MC Dumb Dumb. Maybe I could deal with it if the volume wasn't set to Sonic Boom, but evidently, there are rules that keep the bass in your face.

If a car playing MC Dumb Dumb's Greatest Hits is within earshot of a family with children, the driver is obligated under Section 5, Paragraph C of the Cursing Rapper Accords to play said music as loudly as possible.

This rule is only applicable in the summer, when temperatures allow raggedy cars to roll up on unsuspecting families with their windows down. I believe the practice of playing such music while my kids are in earshot is part of an evil plot by the music industry to drive me insane.

I only wish the evils of summer stopped with loud music. Unfortunately, there is much more to it than that.

For those of you who haven't noticed it yet, there is also the matter of summer hollerin'. Before you ask the question, the answer is yes. There are hollerin' contests that take place during Philadelphia summers.

I know there are those of you who believe that hollerin' is only practiced by the folks in Okefenokee Swamp, Ga. I'm sure most of you think the only official hollerin' contest takes place in Spivey's Corner, N.C. However, there are corners in Philadelphia where hollerin' is every bit as serious as it is in some parts of Alabama. Only these guys aren't wearing cowboy hats and calling hogs. They're wearing face tattoos and calling Molly.

This wouldn't be so bad if it took place at a decent hour. Unfortunately, it doesn't go down like that. Our most proficient hollerin' takes place at 3 in the morning, and it's usually part of a lovers' quarrel that has made its way onto the sidewalk.

At any other time of day, this would be entertaining, because the hollerin' usually contains reality-show exchanges like this one:

"I told you I better not ever catch you with her again!"

"But she's my aunt! And my mom! It's complicated!"

"Stop lying, Charlie!"

"I'm not lying, Molly! It's all my dad's fault! One wild night back in '86 ruined it for all of us!"

"I'm not letting you back in the trailer, Charlie!"

"Well, could you at least toss me a beer?"

If Charlie and Molly could keep their dispute in South Philly, I wouldn't care so much. However, I can hear them clear across town, and as I lie awake, listening to them argue over the last can of Miller Lite, I am struck by a sad reality. If only I could get them down to Spivey's Corner, N.C., they could actually compete in a real hollerin' contest, instead of keeping me up all night.

Thankfully, I only have to endure the noise of summer for two more months, and then it will be over. The kids will go back to school. The wannabe DJs will roll up their car windows. The hollerin' contest will move away from Philadelphia's corners and back to Spivey's Corner.

Until winter's blissful silence returns, bringing with it subzero temperatures and car-killing potholes, I will try to enjoy the good things about summer. I'll eat ice cream and water ice, go to barbecues and amusement parks, and read online comments about reality stars.

OK, maybe not that last one.

Still, I'm going to need coping mechanisms to get through the noise of summer. If you have ideas, please send them along. Don't bother emailing or responding on social media. Don't make phone calls or send text messages. Just do what Philadelphians always do when summer arrives.

Go out to your nearest corner, cup your hands like a megaphone, and holler.

 


Solomon Jones is the author of 10 books, including his latest novel, The Dead Man's Wife (Minotaur Books), and the humor collection Daddy's Home: A Memoir of Fatherhood and Laughter. The married father of three has been featured on NPR and CNN, and has written on parenting for Essence and other publications. He created the literacy program Words on the Street. His column appears Tuesdays. More at Solomonjones.com.

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