Summer is the worst season of them all, placing it fourth out of four. This waning season is utterly pathetic and unpleasant in every way. And yet: I live in a society that acts as if summer is instilled with inherent goodness. Every year, my friends, colleagues, the public, and major corporations celebrate the end of winter in ecstasy. Just think of the fun we’ll have in the sun, they scream united. As summer is coming to a close, I would like to put a definitive end to this collective foolishness.
People like summer because it is the time of year that’s supposedly more hospitable to human outdoor activities than the winter months. This has baffled me for decades. In summer, being hot makes it impossible to enjoy anything, and there’s nothing you can do about that short of hosing yourself down like a horse to relieve the pain. The sun is a sticky chauvinist. In summer, rational people run indoors, into cooler climates.
In winter, if it is very cold, one must only add another layer of clothing to adjust their comfort. This gives you agency over your experience in and of the world and necessitates the application of the best human invention: fashion. Among many other things, fashion allows us the comforting sensation of facilitating your own warmth within a cold environment—and this is a gift. When it is cold you can wear anything you like, and fashion is easily more important to the human existence than going swimming, having a barbecue, or getting a shitty stick-and-poke tattoo on a hot roof in Brooklyn.
In winter, you can dress like a slut and just put a fur coat on top, and you look more fabulous than if you were dressed as a slut and sopping in sweat. (I do not sweat, so I do not know what that feels like, but I have seen it, and it is undesirable.) As someone who values agency in her life, I relish in wearing whatever it takes to look and feel comfortable in winter, and I violently resent the restraints that summer puts on us in fashion-based respects and beyond.
The sun is a sticky chauvinist.
There are so many other things to enjoy in winter. Tea, for instance. Tea is fantastic, but summer strips away the most enjoyable aspect of tea consumption. Iced tea is “good,” but it’s not really tea, for the reasons we love it—and you can enjoy cold comestibles during winter, too: In summer, the same is not exactly true of coffee and all other perfect foods that are warm, such as pasta and cheesy potatoes. Everything tastes better in the winter—and cold food that is not ice cream, like salad, cannot compare to good, hot meals.
Anything that isn’t summer is winter, which means that, nine months of the year, my season wins. Fall is the death of summer. It heralds Mother Winter’s approach, pushing the sun away and chilling the earth. People like it because, deep down, their instinct tells them that it is good for summer to die. In our hearts, we know that winter is superior—that snowfalls and peacoats, mulled wine and roasted meat, and the cool wind arcing our woolen scarves behind us on leafless streets, are preferable to oil-slicked bodies covered in sand.
I didn’t always hold the strong position I do now about the seasons. When I was a child, I naïvely awaited summer with great longing—but I also asked for a plunger for my birthday. Childhood is a weird time for all of us—why would we carry it into adulthood by hanging onto this idea that summer is so great? Because we are inculcated by a mass cultural initiative to believe that this season is good, when it isn’t.
I think of how Fran Lebowitz once famously decried men wearing shorts: “There are few things I would rather see less, to tell you the truth. I'd just as soon see someone coming toward me with a hand grenade… To have to sit next to grown men on the subway in the summer, and they're wearing shorts? It's repulsive. They look ridiculous, like children.” Men actually look cute in shorts, but Lebowitz is correct in connecting this aspect of male behavior to childhood. I would add that the adoration of summer is, itself, a remnant of childhood that stems from an immature desire to be 13 again.
The rejection of winter is a rejection of adulthood. We worship summer because we want to live forever in our childhood memories of being set free from the confines of our oppressive educational institutions to come of age in the woods and in the streets. But life is not a Stephen King novel, and you will never be young again.