Summer is upon us – the season of saying "yes" to everything you'd normally reject. After-work drinks? Sure. Kissing strangers in broad daylight? Fine. Peeing in your front garden because you lost your house keys in a river? Acceptable. Summer's great because everyone looks hotter, each weekend feels like a school holiday and wherever you live becomes a place to explore rather than endure.
But then you take it too far. Shoes no longer matter but for some reason, sea-salt hairspray really, really does. You're late for work so often that people stop being angry and start getting nervous. You wear "gladiator sandals" and tie-dye maxi skirts, and stay up all night smashing laughing gas with the kind of guys who spend the winter trying to chirpse girls at bus stops. You start listening to reggae. And after a month of reggae, you go temporarily insane.
The truth is, everything seems like a good idea in the summer, when it truly, madly, deeply is not. Here's some advice on how not to be a dick now that the sun's out.
Each season brings with it its own particular variety of social media bullshit. If in spring Instagram was awash with photos of cherry blossom and girls flagellating themselves for daring to eat an Easter egg, then summer is going to be Millie Mackintosh apologists pouting with Frappuccinos (no, it's still not interesting if your name is spelt wrong, "Melanda") and call-outs for lifts to festivals you can't afford to go to.
In all honesty, if you're not going to any festivals or exotic locations this summer, it's best to stay the fuck away from social media. Islands in the sun are like giant petri dishes when it comes to spawning Instabraggers, and who can blame anyone for thinking, 'I've spent £800 on this holiday – I have earned the right to make everyone at home hate themselves.'
If you are lucky enough to be going away, here are a few tips. I'm not going to patronise you by telling you not to "check in" at the airport or photograph your hot dog legs – these are no brainers. Tan-line selfies on the other hand, are more complicated. Snapchat them to your crush, but there's really no need to share with everyone – you'll get loads of compliments when you get home anyway.
If you insist on "tastefully bragging" (no such thing) from paradise, avoid provocative hashtags; #livingthedream, #sorrynotsorry and #casualmonday on pictures of sunsets is one hundred percent going to turn your friends into vengeful whispering snake-bitch-people.
When it comes to documenting your holiday for posterity, I'd say take it old school. You know what's fun? Underwater film cameras bought at an airport Boots. Postcards with tacky 3D blob things on the front. Getting your hair braided. Henna tattoos.
Photo by the author
These are largely age-dependent. For example, everything you're going to regret doing between the ages of 16 and 20 is going to happen on a "girly holiday". Twenty-one to 24 is the dignified bracket – you and all your friends are going to be too broke and overworked to have a real holiday anyway, so you'll just end up going to a cottage in Devon and staring at some fields. But 25-30 is your real time to shine – these are the years reserved for the glory of a quarter-life crisis in full-thrust; halcyon years in which you'll finally be irresponsible and self-confident enough to spend decent money flying somewhere hot to give someone Hispanic a blowjob.
If you're off on a "girly holiday" this summer, here are a few dickhead things you should avoid:
– Tattoos: If you're young enough to think, 'I'll get a tattoo somewhere my parents will never see it,' then the tattoo is going to be a mistake. If you're old enough to make your own decisions, then you're old enough to know you shouldn't let a guy with a ponytail called "Manu" loose on you with a needle.
– Not eating: It's hard not to be body-conscious when you're walking around half-naked all day, but skip lunch and the whiny one in the group is going to annoy you so much she'll be in tears by dinnertime.
– Mopeds: Bicycles are so much cuter and so much less likely to cause a fractured femur.
– Sex on the beach: "Sand gets everywhere" is the cliched advice. Arguably more persuasive is the advice that, these days, so do people's cameras:
– Penis-shaped straws: There is a picture of me drinking through one of these somewhere on the internet. I haven't slept soundly for five years.
All that said, it's fine to give in to some of your "basic bitch" impulses on a girly holiday. Vitamin D intake from actual sunlight is going to make you much happier, so take advantage of that feeling by opening your mind a little, too. Do dance on the bar to Avicii, do wear a neon bikini, do rent a pedalo, do read Time Traveller's Wife. Cultural snobbery is an exhausting thing to try to pack in a suitcase.
Couples holidays are essentially all about finding the right time and place to poop. If you struggle to do this around your significant other, 'cos you think they'll react to you taking a shit like you just set their nan on fire, then you're going to need subterfuge options.
But while there's nothing more life-affirming than precision-detonating a couple of laxatives and taking a massive crap while your apartment reverberates to the sound of banging trance, it's wholly irrational to behave in this way. Let's face it: you're not gonna go seven days on a diet of foreign water and fresh shellfish without losing control of the wheel once or twice. If you'd rather not be a grouchy dick to your lover while on hols, you need to be chill about getting rid of "that bloated feeling".
Once this is out of the way, you're free to have a good time. I mean, you're on holiday, with the person you love. What could be better? Use your time wisely by being as disgustingly coupley as possible; lovingly feed each other pasta, coyly splash each other in the pool, go PDA-wild while your bitter single friends at home aren't there to sneer. Just keep the vom-fest off social media, k?
Photo by Jason McDonald
At some point, people stopped dressing like it was summer and started dressing like they were constantly at a festival. Poppy Delevingne can get away with it because her whole life is a festival. Yours... isn't, so let's make this the year where we lay the idea of "festi-chic" to rest.
Only acceptable at festivals:
– Underbutt: This is when your hot pants sit halfway up your butt cheek. It's a really great way to avoid tan lines and let everyone know that you're DTF. The problem is that it's a look mostly worn by 15-year-old girls so it could very easily attract the wrong type of psycho. Y'know, the kind of guy who'd ask you how old you were when you lost your virginity on the first date.
– Hunter Wellies: I have no idea how many patent bubblegum pink pairs of these are sold each year, but whatever it is, it's too many. For now, let's just promise not to wear them to festivals that take place in London zone 2 or within eyeshot of a three-storey office building.
Not acceptable anywhere:
– Boho: Even Sienna Miller knows it's not 2006 any more; the only people who dress boho now are Kirstie Allsopp and Habitat employees.
– Fedoras: It's the patriarchy's favourite hat. Women who wear fedoras do so because they hate themselves.
– Flower crowns: Leave these to Florence Welch and whoever's job it is to dress the dead prostitutes in True Detective.
– Dip-dye: These actually look OK until you realise that everyone has one and your festival campsite has turned into a weird sequel to Being John Malkovich where all of the characters look like Haim.
DRINKING ON WEEKNIGHTS
This, unfortunately, is a double standard. If you are a student, you should really drink and smoke and snort and puke, and then do it all over again, for days on end, until it goes back to getting dark before EastEnders.
You need to get it out of your system, because once you're part of the workforce, nothing screams DICK louder than showing up to the office in last night's make-up looking and smelling like a clown that got hit by a train.
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All girls want a boyfriend in the winter, when you can't afford heating and can't be bothered to leave the house. But, weirdly, the girls I've known to be October's most enthusiastic boyfriend-hunters are the first to callously toss aside their loved ones when an opportunity arises to straddle a bearded bear on the beach at Dimensions after a pocketful of MDMA.
Let 'em. Girls have a way harder time feeling confident than boys in the summer because they're expected to get a wax every two weeks, be a realistic shade of bronze and look good in short-shorts. Once we actually achieve this Kendall Jenner-like visage we might as well have some fun with it.
Girls: go wild, be as big a dickhead as you want this summer – just avoid hooking up with boys that are dickheads.
Beach romance photos by Jamie Lee Curtis Taete (top), Amdraci (middle) and Javier Izquierdo (bottom).
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