What’s it with the people? It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, it’s not Christmas, it’s SUMMER! And what a summer! Over 32 degrees Celsius during the day and 25 at night (and not to speak of the temperature inside, which currently is over 30 in many houses and flats). The perfect time to spend a Saturday evening − and even night − outside. Have dinner on the street terrace of a restaurant, enjoy a glass of wine on the still and currently ever warm pavement and have a decent talk about life, love or how biosynthesis works. You just natter about those things, look at the sky, see the stars over your city, feel the warmth and at the same time the smooth cooling wind waving through the streets. You look at the people passing by, see their light outfits, their buoyant mood, the carefreeness. Maybe you see a person you like, gaze after him or her, and − if you dare − appreciate the summery outfits. You feel no strain, no time pressure, just lightness and, yes, freedom. Just breathe it in!
All that is a wonderful thing to do. Well, or rather a wonderful idea − as here sometimes your friends (or some of them) are the limiting factor. And to already counter the − however entirely justifiable − reaction some might voice that everybody should do what she or he feels like: Yes, you’re absolutely right. But I just want to shout out: Live a little, enjoy life a little! Or as the French say: Savour the ‘savoir vivre’! Of course, it is absolutely subjective what everybody subsumes under his concept of savoir vivre, the ‘know how to live’. So, this is an entirely personal account.
It just happened to me − today being exactly the wonderful summer day I described above − that I was trying to make some plans for tonight: beer garden, pavement café, bar or restaurant − anything like that. First friend, first reaction: She rather wanted to go to her allotment garden. Well, of course, the plants need water, it’s fresher there than in the city, and greener, naturally (pun intended). And if she rather wants to do that, no problem, her choice. But still disappointing. Then an ‘unsolicited’ text arrives: ‘Care for a drink? 20:30 h?’ Yesss, just the text I was hoping for, perfect. Due to an incoming telephone call a bit later, she wanted to change the time to 20:45 h. Sure, no problem.
So, we met, had some bites to eat (tapas, though not very good ones, but anyway), went to another place to have another drink, talked nicely, watched the passing people, enjoyed the warmth and the slightly cooling breeze at the same time, and then, suddenly at only 22:30 h, she imparted: ‘Well, time to go home for me now, the sofa is calling…’ I looked quite flabbergasted. Shocked. Poleaxed. Or at least I felt like that (couldn’t see me then). Such a wonderful Saturday evening and she wants to go home at 22:30 h? Everybody else (or so it appeared) was still outside, enjoying themselves. In Spain, people would just start to meet and drink at that time. But me? Sniff, sniff… I was ‘doomed’ to return to my 30 degrees at home to, well, I don’t know what to do − do my taxes for 2023 already? Or do some washing? Or the dishes (after squeezing some ketchup and mustard on them). Or watch ‘cat meets dog’ videos on YouTube, followed by ‘duck meets squirrel meets toothbrush’ videos? This simply cannot be the filling for my Saturday evening void.
I don’t understand it. Why don’t people just enjoy this weather and the possibility to be outside. Okay, I would understand the wish to stay sofa-bound on a Friday evening. You know, everybody got up early, worked all day, is tired in the evening − we all had a long, long, long, loooong week. But on a Saturday? And I’m not talking about extensive night-outs until 5 a.m. in the morning (yaaawn, those times are just over), no, just like perhaps 1 a.m. Would that be too much of a challenge? I also work, and I sometimes even go the extra mile (yeah, marketing jargon: check), which could mean working until late or on weekends. But still I’d want to go out a little, enjoy a bit of what I’ve just earned by working, if that is a drink, an ice-cream or a dinner. Yes, I know, I get up later than most of the people, I start working later, finish working later, go to bed later − which basically means I can stay up later when enjoying my leisure time. But 1 a.m. on a Saturday? Is that really too late for a ‘normal(ly)’ working person?
Next week I’m meeting with a friend. He’s got two children, aged 3 and 9, and when we were texting the other day about when and where to meet, he wrote me at 0:30 h that he now needed to go to bed as his kids will be up early. This guy has two kids! And stays up on a Friday evening until 0:30 h − which is much longer than the two of my friends mentioned above on a Saturday night (the first one texted me at 23:08 that she, being in her allotment garden, now wanted to brush her teeth and go to bed [yes, in her little garden house], though, to be totally transparent and fair, her last text to me was sent at 23:53).
Okay, okay, maybe they all want(ed) to get up early, because they’d meet with somebody at 9 h for breakfast. Or go to mass at 10 o’clock. OK, just kidding. Or they are passionate car drivers and wanted to enjoy the city’s empty streets on a Sunday morning in a car race. Or maybe my conversational skills are so bad that 1 3/4 hours are the maximum to bear when meeting with me (2 1/2 hours when having proper dinner as I’d have my mouth full for, put together, at least half an hour). Or maybe, what I actually assume the most, we just don’t share the same feelings and expectations towards a hot summer’s night. Basically, I’d say, that’s the reason. And totally understandable and to be accepted. But still, it’s frustrating.
So, here’s my toast and my appeal, with a ‘foggy’ (and foggying) Pastis in my hand, raising it to celebrate life on hot summer nights! Enjoy the company of people you like, have conversations that enlighten and nurture you, indulge in the ice-cold drinks relieving you temporarily of the still warm air around you, when you feel the cold liquid running down your throat, giving you this wonderful cooling sensation from the inside of your body. Take in your surroundings, the people and the atmosphere around you. Revel in the fact that you’re alive. Savour the summer, savour the moment. Live.