The promise of summer tends to make you contemplate where you’ve been, the choices you’ve made and what’s to come. Well, at least for me. When I was a kid, summer meant nothing but kickball games on Stanley Place and swimming at my great-grandparents’ house. But, as I got older, those two and half months started to become benchmarks for my life, not to mention I’m an August baby, so that helps with the reflection.
There was the summer of ’92, when Mary J. Blige and Ron G. tapes were played everywhere as I prepared to go to high school. I spent the summer of ’94 between Atlanta and Tampa. ’96 was the summer before I went to college, putting those kickball games in a corner of my mind. In 2004 I started a new job, ’08 I lost my great-grandfather and turned 30. The summer of 2010 changed everything for me. That was the summer Sharea and I fell in love. I had to stop coasting through life, reset my goals and work towards a few of them. 2018 nearly wiped it all away and led me to where I’m standing today: the summer of my discontent.
I turn 41 in a little over a month, my health has stabilized, and I’ve crossed the 15-year mark at my job. My mind is telling me it’s time to move on. Move forward. I’ve lasted much longer than I ever thought and landed comfortably into contentment. I have a few things in mind, but somehow, I’ve grown into a person that doesn’t take risks, values the safety of security. It’s like I’ve lost the boldness I had with my hair.
But, I’m not gonna bore you with my troubles, because I just realized I’ve sent y’all out into July without The Summer Rules. For the uninitiated, the Summer Rules are a set of guidelines created to ensure we have a fun, safe summer that frees you of hate and overextended yourself for your IG story.
The Golden Rule: Moisturize your situation. I know the humidity mixed with lotion makes you sweat, but you must check your hot spots two or three times before you leave the crib. Keep a tube of Nivea, Shea Butter or whatever your sexy is in your glove compartment, bag or on your desk, because we don’t want any of y’all caught on the Gram looking like my grandfather after a hard day of work.
Speaking of sweating; know your body chemistry. I spent the spring smelling teenagers and I’d rather not face the aroma of adults all summer. Make sure your deodorant is hitting all the entire underarm. If you’re a heavy sweater, pack a washrag and an extra stick with you. Trust me.
We must come to an agreement on jean shorts. One summer they’re out. The next they’re in. Then out again. In again, but they must have rips and holes in them. Let me know when the votes have been tallied on jorts.
Are your cousins still having white parties on Friday AND Saturday? Of course, don’t invite me, but please make sure your whites match.
The million-dollar rule has been modified to be the billion-dollar rule. Please don’t wear sunglasses inside.
Check on your elders. You know your nana is stubborn and ain’t trying to run her light bill up, so make sure she’s doing okay when the heatwaves begin.
Speaking of elders. If you’re being referred to as “Unc”, “Big Unc”, “Big Cuz”, “Auntie” or “Ms. Pam”, it’s time to recognize that you’ve crossed into middle age. It’s okay. It won’t hurt if you don’t fight it. Just know that if you sprain your ankle trying to play ball with your nephews, you’re going to miss a week of work.
Take a vacation this summer. Please do not spend the entire summer chained to your desk or your phone, hating on folks who are going out and enjoying life. There’s no reason to be mad at teachers for having the summer off or your friends for conserving their days, instead of taking a five-day weekend for St. Patrick’s Day. Get out with your family, take your significant other to Cancun or go with your friends to the Essence Fest. Get out and touch Summer.
Be real about the size of your backyard. You can’t invite 60 people to your cookout and have 12 chairs, it’s just not right. No one wants to make a Walmart run for chairs when they’re waiting for burgers to come off the grill.
Stay hydrated! Keep a gallon of water, a six-pack of Gatorade or whatever your comeback is for the hot days and long nights.
Wedding season is upon us and many of us have procrastinated long enough in mailing in our RSVP, but there’s a subset of rules that go along with attending weddings:
Pay attention to the invitation, the color scheme for the wedding party is right there. You should not show up looking like the sixth bridesmaid, you were barely invited.
Don't take someone you're not ready to marry to a wedding
Don't take someone in anticipation of seeing your ex.
If it's an open bar (rare because your cousins are cheap) go easy, there’s nothing worse than being the sloppy drunk at the wedding, too much space for embarrassment.
Do not spend the next month talking to him about the wedding; it is not going to make him marry you.
Fellas stop hitting on everything with estrogen at the wedding; the bride's auntie is off limits!
Ciroc Summer Watermelon for the summer. Something light and fun. Dark liquor does something to us when it’s hot outside and in the age of #BlackLivesMatter, we have to maintain our heads much better and learn how to solve conflicts and nigga moments without violence. Say it with me, Dark Liquor = Your friends sending your baby mother bail money via Cash App.
Those of you vacationing where the water is so blue, don’t give us a play-by-play. A few pics and maybe a video or two are cool. Anything more seems excessive and like you don’t get out much. I just told you niggas are fired up on Hennessey and hate!
I know quite a few of you have spent the last few months going hard in the gym and this is supposed to be a “Hot Girl Summer”, but keep in mind, many of you have teenagers and it’s not a good look for you to tag your kids in pictures of you in bikinis and revealing outfits. I doubt your son wants to fight every day because his friends are getting nice to your photos.
There are too many free events going on for folks to be snuggled up in the house running the light bill up. Just Google the closest “big city” to you and watch your calendar fill up.
But, please stay in your financial lane this summer! Just because the breeze is minimal doesn’t mean that your electric and other bills don’t have to be paid this month. You don’t have to dance to every Drake song; it is okay to sit a weekend or three out to preserve the funds, because like Stu, your rent is due!
Read a book, or three, go to a lecture or museum, do something to expose yourself beyond your norm.
Have fun at least twice this summer. I mean real fun. So much fun that your old ass can’t get off the couch for a day or two. Go to an amusement or water park, play kickball, do something that reminds you of when life was simple. When your soul smiled with joy.
Always practice self-care. Build mental health days into your calendar to do something listed above or just be. Learn where to draw the line in your life for those folks who always take so much from you.
Finally, we only have a 90-day block to enjoy each summer, spend it loving yourself, others and life. It’s my hope we get through this summer safely, without hearing your cousins’ complaints and rants about nothing. Let’s collect new experiences and make memories for the next few months, not piss everyone off asking “why we don’t have a Straight Day parade?”.