WHEN MY 11-year-old daughter, Eve, talks excitedly about going back to school, I don't encourage her enthusiasm. I simply sit there in a catatonic state, mumbling to myself about getting up at 6 a.m. to shuttle her to class. I'm not ready for summer to end.
It's not that I don't love my daughter. I do. I just hate mornings. I've accepted that about myself, and I'm doing everything I can to get the help I need. But this isn't about me. It's about summer, and my desperate attempt to wring every last ray of sunshine out of these halcyon days. I am, after all, working on my tan. More importantly, I'm working on my summer bucket list.
The list contains three items. Before you read them, be warned. The summer fantasies of a 45-year-old married father of three are not for the faint at heart. Nor are they suitable for small children, so if you fit into either of those categories, please turn away now.
Item No. 1: Staying up late
I'm up late all the time, but I'm usually working on a book, writing an article or editing a video. Why? Because late nights are the only part of the day when my kids are safely tucked away in a place where they can't bug me for ice-cream money. I need more from my late nights than work. I need fun.
I can still remember when LaVeta and I started dating. It was summertime, and though we were close to 30, we behaved like teenagers. We'd stay up late talking on the phone about absolutely nothing. We were both nodding off by the end of each conversation, but neither of us wanted to be the first to hang up. The dialogue went something like this:
"I like you."
"I like you more."
"No, I like you more."
Nearly 16 years later, those conversations have borne fruit. Their names are Eve and Little Solomon. They sleep in our house, eat our food and love us dearly. We love them, too, but I'd like to spend just one late night this summer having a silly conversation with the girl I fell in love with 16 years ago - even if I have to sit downstairs and call her on my iPhone.
Item No. 2: Reviving my lawn
You've heard me talk about my lawn over the years. At one time it was my pride and joy. Then we had a son. When he arrived in our home, he brought with him the wanton destruction that boys bring to almost anything they touch. I was destructive when I was a kid. Other men destroyed stuff when they were kids. It's what we do. That's why I wasn't surprised when my son carried on the tradition. I just never thought he would focus his male aggression on my beloved lawn.
I've seen the boy and his friends hold WWE wrestling matches on my lawn. I've watched them use it as a Rollerblade, scooter and bike track. I've watched the grass that I plant in the spring wear down by August. This year, it looks like the top of Ed Asner's head.
In the past I've sworn that I would have my vengeance, but I've mellowed over the years. This summer, I simply want my lawn back. In order to do so, I'll have to treat it like Lazarus, and raise it from the dead.
Item 3: Being Bif Jones
Just once this summer, I'd like to live like the big shots on Rittenhouse Square. I want to put on a pair of ridiculously expensive driving loafers, tie a lime-green sweater around my shoulders, wear sunglasses at night and sit at an outdoor cafe with my wife.
I hate cigars, but I'll smoke one anyway, because that's part of the look. And when the waiter comes by with the menu and asks for my order, I'll tell him to call me Bif - Bif Jones.
"I'll take a carafe of your best red wine, young man," I'll say in my best Thurston Howell accent. "And some of that stinky cheese, as well. What will you have, Lovey?"
When LaVeta looks at me curiously, I'll whisper across the table, "You're Lovey."
After my wife places her order, we'll spend the remainder of the evening swirling our wine glasses because, well, we don't actually drink. That night, when the sun sets on my lime-green sweater, and the cigar smoke is swirling against the sunset, I'll finally be ready to face September, because my summer bucket list will be complete.