The Boys of Summer

Posted: April 3, 2012 in Writing/Publishing

We were the boys of summer. The real boys of summer. Back before it was a slogan generated on Madison Avenue or the tag line for a professional baseball team. We had names like Specs, Slick, Ace, Hot Dog, Hound Dog, Stinky, and Booger. Badges of honor bestowed by the people we thought would be our friends for life in the halcyon days of our youth.

We saw the world from behind a set of bicycle handlebars. Pedaled a thousand miles over sidewalks, dirt roads, and endless ribbons of asphalt. We rode the wind on two wheels. Traveled the endless galaxies, revved out hot rod engines, and saved the world on secret spy missions from the saddles of our Schwinns, Huffys, Murrays, and Western Flyers. Standard frames or banana bikes, it didn’t matter. Fueled by legs sheathed in short pants and high-test imagination, we were tireless adventurers with a million new adventures as close as our next breath.

We were the boys of summer. From the 3:15 bell on the last school day of May until the 8:30 bell on the first school day in August, were free. Free to run and play and dream. Free to join the universal chorus of the other summer boys with Indian cries, cowboy whoops, and taunts from the sandlot.

We want a pitcher, not a glass of water…You swing like a girl…Grandma was slow, but she’s old…Go back, go back, go back to the woods, ’cause you, ’cause you, ’cause you ain’t no good

Ghosts of the days when there were winners and losers, nobody cared, and everybody met at the Dairy Queen for ice cream after the game.

We were the boys of summer. And we had discovered girls. All kinds of girls. Those mysterious creatures who captured our collective fancies and stirred out newly minted hormones into a simmering soup, constantly in danger of boiling over. We spoke in huddled groups and hushed whispers around marshmallow laden campfires about who we had set our caps for and what we would do once we were alone…all the while, knowing in our deepest heart, that if she so much as let us hold her hand, we would probably faint. But in those days…those glorious summer days when the word was reborn each morning…they made us swoon.

And a hundred years later they still do.

Yes, we were the boys of summer. The summer grass was our bed and the summer sky our canopy. We were fueled by the fires of imagination and the promise of a thousand new summer days waiting before us.

And on a spring day in 2012 the one they called Ace looks around the trappings of the modern world in a place his youthful counterpart could not have imagined, catches the essence of freshly cut grass in the air, and remembers.

The game winning home run…

Lazy afternoons fishing by the lake…

Pushing a bicycle to its limit for the thrill of skidding on gravel…

Secrets told in hushed whispers…

Gathering by the grave of one taken from us too soon and wondering how it could happen to one of us…

We were the boys of summer.

And when we close our eyes, carried back in time on the wings of scent and memory, we still are.

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