That familiar feeling

Published 1:34 pm Saturday, August 25, 2012

I still remember what it felt like to be young and knowing that summer was drawing to a close.

That feeling could be best described as miserable. The end of summer meant no more spending hours on end at the community pool with friends. No more marathon whiffle ball games in the cul-de-sac at the end of our street. No more sitting on the curb with a dollar in my hand waiting to hear the first faint chimes of Mr. Frostee’s ice cream truck.

It meant knowing that because it was starting to get dark a little bit earlier every night, I’d soon be getting dragged through Sears searching for new corduroys and a pair of tennis shoes I was sure to get ridiculed over.

For all those reasons, and many more, I hated the end of summer.

But perhaps the worst thing was going back to school.

School, to put it mildly, was not my favorite place. Quite frankly, I despised it.

I was one of those kids who really had a hard time sitting still and keeping quiet, back before anyone had ever heard of anything called attention-deficit disorder. Back then they called it won’t-pay-attention disorder, and as I result I spent many hours either in the hall, at the principal’s office or with my desk butted up against my teacher’s desk.

To this day, I still don’t understand why most of my teachers never truly appreciated how funny I was, or why some of them were so mean to me. Although I suppose looking back on it now, the two were probably somehow related.

And believe me, no matter how cool the new backpack or lunchbox or denim-covered three-ring binder was, they didn’t come close to overcompensating for the agony of gearing up to deal with fractions, long division and photosynthesis for the next nine months.

Back then, the end of summer felt more like impending death.

But now that I’m allegedly a grownup, my perspective on what the end of summer means has changed quite a bit.

Now, the end of summer means the grass is about to stop growing several inches a day, and that I’ll get back the four hours a week I spend on a lawnmower or with a weed eater in my hands.

It means I don’t have to hose myself down in bug spray to get the mail or lather up in sunscreen to spend 15 minutes in the yard playing catch.

It means my sunglasses won’t fog up every time I get out of my vehicle, and that I don’t have to leave my windows cracked just to keep it from being 115 degrees when I get back in.

It also means I don’t have to run outside in the middle of an afternoon thunderstorm to roll them back up.

It means my dress shirts won’t look like I just pulled them out of the laundry pile by two in the afternoon.

And, because I’m now the proud father of two school-aged children, it means their mother and I get to drop them off at school again. I hope for their sakes the new backpacks and school supplies actually do the trick.

Oh yes, the end of summer is here. But unlike the days of my youth, it couldn’t have come soon enough.

TONY CLARK is the general manager and advertising director at The Tidewater News. He can be reached at