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It’s August, and there’s nothing to do

August is my least favorite of the summer months, where I use the term “summer” to mean UW’s summer, running from mid-June until October. August is the summer doldrums, filled with the kind of lazy days where fat drips of perspiration are the only extensions of my body motivated to move. August lacks July’s giddy school’s-out excitement, and September’s rarefied air, made crisp with fresh cold and joyous reunions, is absent as well. Simply stated, the novelty of summer parties has worn off to those that throw them, and their muse will remain silent until the approaching school year stirs her blood. This part of Seattle waxes and wanes to a 9-month cycle. On a still night in August on 17th Ave, you can hear the 14-bedroom houses catching their breath.

Sometimes, though, doldrums are just what you need. I still don’t have time to be bored on weekdays, but today I felt ennui’s fetid breath on the back of my neck for the first time in ages. It was lovely. I lay in bed and read Tom Robbins until Marta called, inviting me to come see Shakespeare in the Park’s version of “The Merchant from Vienna.” I didn’t tell her the correct title just then, waiting until I’d climbed in the shotgun seat of Laurel’s Tercel before dropping the bomb, as it were. “So Marta tells me we’re going to see The Merchant from Vienna tonight,” I told Laurel. Sadly, Laurel didn’t catch my drift quite soon enough to be of any use to me. “Zach, you dork! It’s the Merchant of Venice!”

Actually, no one was right, since that show was at eight o’clock and ours, the three o’clock, was a production of “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” The theater troupe had set up their stage and tents right in front of the bathroom at Magnusson Park, and we spread three layers of blankets onto the dying grass, settled into our niche and broke out the food. Marta brought home-made strawberry ice cream, while Laurel was packing a baguette, a wedge of cheese, a cutting board, and several wicked looking knives. The other patrons of the makeshift auditorium looked on enviously as we munched. I expected more college students to be in attendance, but nearly everyone was middle-aged or older, or their young children. A woman in front of us smoked cloves, which made me feel especially indie – outdoor public arts are already achingly indie, and the presence of clove cigarettes caused the event to coalesce in my mind, like beads of water running into one another. I felt very strongly that we were In The Right Place just then, for whatever reason.

We lounged on the blankets for the two-hour performance, which wasn’t half bad. The acting was decent, the costumes passable, and I could always hear the lines. And of course, it’s Shakespeare, so the story was enjoyable. Marta couldn’t sit still, lying half on top of me one moment, shifting to a seated position the next, then rolling with a sigh onto her side and burrowing her face into the crook of my elbow. I didn’t mind. After the final curtain and perfunctory call for donations (public art’s necessary ugly side), we took a quick dip in Lake Washington, where I nearly lost my underwear upon diving in. Then we drove back to my apartment and ate enormous hamburgers, then melted down the backs of our chairs, sweating satiety.

Oh, the best thing that happened yesterday: someone’s thrown sneakers over a power line on my walk home, sneakers whose soles read “IMPEACH” on one and “BUSH” on the other. I appreciate the sentiment, but I have to question a movement whose primary proponents consider this an effective tactic. I suppose I should head to campus in my most beat-up sweater and wool cap, shoving leaflets at everyone who I perceive has the barest twinge of weakness. When people ask why I suddenly became an activist, I’ll say “because the sneakers told me to, that’s why.” Actually, I laughed out loud and kept walking. Better luck next time, guys.

Posted in Musings.


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