Summer romance FAIL

Originally published in the May 31, 2011, issue of Creative Loafing Atlanta.

Have you ever fallen in love in the summer? There’s a feeling that lingers with summer love — like when you can still see the sun’s glow dance inside your lids after you shut your eyes, or how you can still feel the ocean waves rocking your body hours later while lying in bed. Even after the fantasy peels away like the skin on our sunburnt shoulders, we feel it.

You don’t find romance in the summer, it finds you. It pretty much sets it up for you. The way you’re always half naked in a bathing suit or shorts or a summer dress, or the way your skin feels wet and sticky with sweat before you even get under the covers with a lover (or blanket of stars above). In the summer, sunblock acts as a pheromone. Its smell triggers delusions of freedom and wet make-out sessions. Everyone is drunk and happy and thirsty.

In the winter, you weave fingers and arms and legs because the truth is your apartment is old and has a shitty heating system and all you want is to go to sleep without shivering. But in the summer, the heat is your wingman. The world melts under the sun, and you both melt with it, binding bodies in bed as you drape your arm and wrap your legs, hair matted and wet. Someone inevitably whispers, “I feel comfortable with you,” before falling asleep sticky and tangled and happy.

At least this is what I imagine a summer romance to be like. Truth is, I’ve never had one. Certainly, I’ve had sex in the summer. I’ve kissed under palm trees and gotten it on in a boathouse. But the archives of my summer lovin’ can only be characterized as capricious and lust-driven moments in time, void of magic or the kind of glitter you wouldn’t mind finding years later in the pockets of your memory, a reminder that youth is wasted on the young and who better to bask in the illusion of love then the naive.

No, my summer romances usually catch fire quicker than the driest California forest. In all honesty, I’m a romantic. Not a hopeless romantic, but a hopeful one. Other things I am: A coward, the product of a nasty divorce, a cynic, a self-saboteur, a gregarious hypersexual pervert who loves to play with fire. It’s easier to admit you love sex than admit you want to be loved. There’s no opportunity for hurt in casual flings, a routine I started in my high school days when my friends and I would bet how many people we could make out with in one summer. (I was the “winner.”)

My first failed summer romance was with “El Cheapo,” a guy I met over spring break while visiting my family in my native Caribbean island. When I first met El Cheapo in Puerto Rico, he took a 30-minute cab ride to my mom’s house and showed up with flowers and a bottle of wine. When I visited him in Chicago the following summer, he refused to pay for his own share of museum admissions or even tip servers. When he asked me to lend him money, he responded with, “Wow! A $20!” I later awoke to find him jerking off in bed next to me.

My last failed summer romance was a former senior crush of mine who I flew out to visit in Los Angeles a few summers ago. As soon as we got to his place on Mulholland Drive, we took off our clothes and gave in to 10 years of sexual tension. We would play again later that day in the backseat of his VW while facing Malibu beach, behind the curtains in an empty movie theater, and under the night sky that filtered in through his shower’s glass ceiling. The next day, while at his TMZ work party, he tells me his AA sponsor doesn’t think we should be having sex anymore. “Maybe one day you can move to California and we’ll be together,” he told me. “Uh, what? I just wanted to have fun,” I told him. We didn’t have sex for the rest of my stay. “I love you” was the last thing he told me before he left for work to tape a Lindsay Lohan trial. I rolled my eyes in silence and gathered my things to catch my plane back.

OK, so maybe these summer flings were doomed from the beginning. Flying across state lines for some summer romance is about as delusional as thinking that true love exists till death do us part. I realize, of course, that there is no one to blame for my summer romance failures other than myself. Sometimes we need to uncross our hearts, trade in our skinny jeans for a short summer skirt, and let the summer heat act as our wingman. Otherwise, how will be keep warm in the winter?

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