Good morning, layabouts.
I don't mean to pee on your fireworks, but have you noticed the date? It's the Fourth of July, summer's midlife crisis and what have you done with your summer? Have you been camping yet? Hiked to the top of Mount Washington? Taken the kids fishing? Do you even have prospects for a summertime romance?
That "companion" you ordered through Craigslist doesn't count, so just put your hand down.
When I was younger, I loved the Fourth. It was a day off from work, a time when mini-explosions were commonplace and drinking wasn't just allowed, it was encouraged. The Fourth of July was barbecues and swimming pools, fireworks and crazy, drunken love.
The wildest Fourth of all was 1989 in Waterville. Or maybe it was 1990, I'm not real clear on that; I lost a lot of chromosomes that day.
That Fourth at Waterville's Head of Falls featured a bridge collapse, a riot in the streets, armored teams of state police marching up Main Street with clubs in hand. I ended up with two dates for that Fourth and one of them punched me in the jaw.
Good times. Memorable, the way a Fourth should be.
I've grown to hate it. I've come to think of the sizzles and pops of Independence Day as summer's halftime show, loud reminders that the clock is ticking and that once the smoke has cleared, summer will wind down fast.
If you're the domestic type, the "to-do" list might not feature things like coed naked Frisbee golf, but it still requires attention. Have you stained the deck like you promised you would? Did you and the wife slip away for a whale-watching cruise in Boothbay Harbor, like you plan to do every year? Did you see any whales?
Didn't think so. There are no whales in Boothbay Harbor.
Have you been to Old Orchard Beach yet? To Fenway Park? To Pemaquid Point or Thunder Hole? When the kids go back to school (just over a month now) what will they tell the class when asked about their summer vacation?
"My daddy sat on the couch, drinking beer and burping a lot. He said we'd go to the water park next week, but next week was rainy so we stayed home and played in the puddles. I caught ringworm."
If you're single, you should be nearly done with your first seasonal fling and moving toward a second. But you're not. Word on the street is that you spend all of your time on Facebook, chatting about things you're going to do this summer as though summer is just going to wait for you. Then you post a photo of a cat doing something hilarious and put everything off until next weekend.
For the terminally unattached, the Fourth of July can be misery or bliss. If you don't have a date for the fireworks, that means you have to go down to Great Falls after dark and make a play for a drunken, shirtless guy with a homemade Anheuser Busch tattoo. Or a drunken, shirtless woman with a homemade Anheuser Busch tattoo, depending on your proclivities.
Or maybe you'll meet a perfectly nice mate on the deck outside Gritty McDuff's and all of his or her tattoos will be professionally drawn.
The period before the Fourth is deceptive. Daylight lasts until 10 p.m. and the springtime rains are still falling. It tricks you into believing there is plenty of time to do all those things you have planned. The next thing you know, the sparklers come out and have you even dragged your sleeping bag and beach chair out of the basement yet and deodorized them with Febreze?
You can never get that musty smell out of your sleeping bag. It's part of the charm of sleeping with a root poking into your spine and bugs laying eggs in your hair.
If there's anything more depressing than the Fourth of July, it's the day that follows. That's the fifth of July, Einstein, and it's dismal. The holidays are over. Days are getting shorter. Before you know it, there will be "Back to School" signs in store windows and there's a nip in the air each morning.
Plenty of time? I don't think so. As things stand, you'll probably end up trying to do everything over one frantic weekend, racing from one tourist hot spot to the next at 90 mph, eating the summer's first lobster in the car to save time. Butter will be everywhere and a steamed clam will fall into a crevice between your seats. It will stink up the car like nobody's business and completely destroy your chances for that last-minute summer romance, because, really: Who wants to fall in love with somebody whose car smells like decaying sea life?
Better get going, Bub. That's all I'm saying.
Also, your sleeping bag stinks, so please: Get some Febreze and use it liberally.
Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. You can thank him for launching a smelly clam onto your picnic table at email@example.com.