By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
Suddenly there's a sense of—what the hell is that?—optimism in the air, along with the pollen of a million blooming plants and trees, people walking around in various stages of undress, their pasty legs and arms exposed to the sun and heat, churning up all the smells ever generated in a three-block radius, good and bad and impossibly disgusting, in one deep breath. Life! Upon leaving our respective workplaces, there are still hours of daylight in which to frolic, drink, and eat alfresco, take in outdoor concerts, and make use of our shorts and skirts and sandals, revealing our bare, weakened limbs to the world again. There's sun to be sponged up by our winter-soft parts, sun to freckle our shoulders and noses and somehow make us inexplicably happy. (Or explicably so: We've been UV-deprived for months.) There are parks to sit in! Outdoor venues to explore! Frozen beverages to consume! Life! It's a dip back into the delicious sauce, three months of recess for adults. And it's only June.
Perhaps a month (two, if you're from hardy stock) from now, you will pull your thinnest cotton dress or a sleeveless shirt and threadbare boxers from a pile of sweaty clothing lying in a corner of your room. You will—with the weary exhaustion of one who is just barely surviving via cold compresses applied to pressure points and a very large fan blowing at all times upon yourself—think of the last time you ate solid food, the only things remotely tempting to you in this particular heat wave being frozen margaritas and endless glasses of iced water. You will feel despair. Can you make it? Do you even want to? Why do we stay here, in this hotbox of humanity, this sweltering stew of fetid aromas and seeping garbage, flies clustered about just waiting for us to drop dead? Why can't we just have central air, like normal people?
And yet, there are plenty of reasons why we love New York in the summer (see also: Stockholm syndrome). Here are 33 to remember when you hit rock-bottom, on a 100-degree-plus day in the middle of August when you're stuck on an un-air-conditioned subway car with a guy who keeps making out with his pet rat. And the power goes out. (Pro tip: Have a flashlight handy.)
1. Air-conditioner-based relationships.
If you fail to procure an air conditioner before the first or second heat wave, rest assured that you have pretty much lost your chance to buy one for the rest of the summer. However, a wide variety of A.C.-based relationships and adventures will now open up to you. When night falls and you are forced from your mechanically cooled office or after-work drinks environment, you will, with unprecedented perseverance and clarity of vision, become radar-focused upon gaining entry into the homes of persons with powerful new air-conditioning units offering five-figure BTUs. Look forward to an array of new "friends with benefits."
2. Summer Fridays.
These two words conjoin as eloquently as if they've been woven together by blind Tibetan monks with the thread of silkworm cocoons, or at least by your grandmother, who is exceedingly good at cross-stitch. Not everyone has Summer Fridays, and that, as with gold bullion or original Four Loko, is what makes them desirable, imbued with status and fragility and potential. New Yorkers who have them get to their weekend beach destinations early, avoiding transit woes and garnering the best sleeping accommodations or least raggedy pool towels. Should you be among the chosen, respect the gift you have been given. Nobody likes a braggart.
3. That whole melting pot thing.
New York is the most fondue-like of melting pots when it's actually melting. This is because people are outside, fanning themselves on stoops, walking and shouting and singing, standing in beer lines at outdoor concerts, trying to fry eggs on pavement, and, above all, interacting thrillingly with strangers instead of hiding away in their box-like apartments. Like the questionably named Wicked Witch of the West, we do our best melting in public.
4. Summer flings.
We are a city of opportunists. And since there are more people consistently outside in the summer than during any other time of year (see above), and more people collected in New York City per square foot than in most other places in these United States, we have ever so many summer opportunities to say hello, or hey, or yoohoo, or "Is that your egg? Looks delicious!" to each other. Whatever the entry point, our most successful summer flings (all of our summer flings) have begun with actually meeting someone and exchanging words with them. That time is nigh.
5. Workaholics take a holiday.
In addition to those Summer Fridays, from Memorial Day to Labor Day there are no less than three gloriously long weekends, among them the Fourth of July, a hootin', hollerin', firework-shootin' multi-day fest in honor of this here America. But even without the holidays, it's a simple fact that in the summer months our nonstop workaholic citizenry works ever so slightly less than we do in the winter, when it's dark at 4:30 and upon leaving the office you go home and warm some soup and eat it huddled for warmth beneath a Slanket. For the summer months, put the Slanket in storage and ditch work early for a change. Tell your boss we said so.