Summer is coming. Allegedly. All the experts SAY it’s coming, anyway. I see no signs of it, myself, but hey. Trust the science and all that.  

Every time we get close to the grand, hot season I remind myself of a list of things that HAVE to be done before I blink and summer is gone. 

My own personal list involves things like “go shirtless on Bartlett Street,”  “picnic at canal draining” and “naked Crocs footrace through Kennedy Park,” but I won’t bother you with those things.  

What follows is a list of things we ALL must get done over the course of summer — and preferably before the Fourth of July because after the Fourth, it’s all just back-to-school sales and leaf peeping tours, anyway. 

Good luck, suckers. The race is on. 

Eat lobster and clams 

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You gotta do it at least once a summer, son. It’s the law in these parts. 

As I’ve reported previously, I‘m not so crazy about eating lobster, in large part because it makes your face stink. It makes ALL of you stink, really, and not just for a little while. For days after mauling a lobster, you will walk around smelling like boiled fish no matter how hard you scrub. Flies and cats will follow you everywhere you go, and all this because Maine tradition has it that if you don’t eat at least one lobster per summer, you might as well be one of those weenies from Massachusetts. Nobody wants to be THAT guy. 

And clams. Steamed clams are also required, and as you suck their weird worm-like heads into your gullet, you have to make the proper sounds of satisfaction or you ain’t doing it right. 

“Mmmm,” you will moan, because it’s a law. “This weird worm-like head is delicious and there’s hardly any sand at all in its mushy, phlegm-like belly. Say, does my face smell like boiled fish to you?” 

You should also take three or four serious flesh wounds from using one of those sharp pick things to dig lobster meat out of hard-to-reach places within its armored body. 

Lobster meat soaked in melted butter, tears and fresh blood. Does anything say summer like that? 

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Walk on sand that is too hot to actually walk on 

This is how we make friends at the beach. Walk on the scalding hot sand at Scarborough Beach in mid-July and the exquisite pain of it will force you to hop on some stranger’s towel, whimpering and sobbing as you go. 

You meet the nicest people in this manner. Just make sure that some huge guy’s wife isn’t presently ON the towel before you goose step onto it. Boy, you learn that the hard way. 

If you do this correctly, by the time you get to the water to cool your blistered paws, your feet will make a nice sizzling sound when you dunk them. Good job. Now seek medical attention or we’re going to have to take that foot. 

Body surf the big waves 

One of the funnest things in the world in my view. The violence of the waves is where the thrills live. The more pain you endure, the more seaweed you eat, the more fun it is. That time I got a concussion at Reid State Park was one of the happiest days of my life. They tell me. 

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The only thing about body surfing in Maine is that to do it, you first have to endure eight months of winter, during which your flesh will go milky white. 

Go out on the beach shirtless before you get some sun on you (wouldn’t hurt you to get to the gym, either) and hurtful kids will laugh and point and yell, “Hey, Maw! Look at ol’ Mr. Milk Bones over there! Betcha I can knock him down with this Frisbee!” 

But if you can survive that, you’re in for a body-slamming, salt water-choking, seaweed-in-your-underpants good time! Who knows? You might even get yourself a concussion, and before you black out, you’ll be only dimly aware that one of those mean kids is stealing your beach shoes. 

Good times, man. 

Pro tip: It’s only high tide at any given Maine beach for about three minutes every other day, so plan accordingly.  

Eat Pier fries at Old Orchard; possibly die from it

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The trick to these scalding hot fires, sold in a bucket (only health-conscious weenies from away order the smaller sizes) is to douse them with so much vinegar, you won’t even feel the piping hot fry as it burns a track down your tender pink gullet. That’s some flesh-charring goodness right there. 

If you’re one of those weirdos who doesn’t put vinegar on your pier fries, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe go get yourself a henna tattoo on the pier or something so I don’t have to look at you. 

Stop at Big Al’s in Wiscasset on your way to the coast 

Sorry. Too soon? That stings a little, I know.  

Big Al’s is not a thing anymore, which means you will no longer come home from Boothbay Harbor or Pemaquid Point with your trunk full of cheap loot you thought you needed when you saw it on Big Al’s vast tables of stuff. 

What’s funny about Big Al’s is that I’ll miss it even though I complained with all the passion of a whiny 6-year-old every time I had to stop there. Shopping is hell, I know, but once you set foot inside that vast cornucopia of cheap trinkets, brother, you were transformed. I mean, seriously. How did you manage to live your life without that shoehorn that doubles as an air gauge?

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Part of the fun of shopping at Big Al’s was watching all sense of self-discipline erode right before your eyes. You can take my oversized novelty back scratcher/pen/ruler when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. But even then don’t take it. I want to be buried with that sucker. 

Go camping 

I know some of you are hardcore campers, who go way off the grid and grow giant beards while living off the land like it’s 1883 all up in here. 

I know many of you are not. A lot of folks like to go camping, but only in organized campgrounds that are no more than 3 miles from a Walmart. This is problematic: if you can’t see the stars through the sodium haze of a nearby strip mall, by gory, you’re doing it wrong. 

In my view, if you’re not in pain and discomfort 24 hours a day during your outing, you are sissy camping. You’ve GOT to have that drilling pain in your spleen from sleeping on a root all night. You’ve GOT to have no less than 30 mosquito bites per square inch of flesh. You’ve GOT to have bruised and bloodied knuckles from trying to whittle wet logs into dry kindling for the fire. You’ve GOT to pass out at least twice while frantically blowing to get said fire going while your poor family shivers in the dark. 

You’ll know you’re doing it right when you find yourself surrounded by a sobbing, infuriated wife and disappointed children muttering “can’t we just go to a motel?” every five minutes. 

Grab yourself a hot, foamy beer with a spider in it, my friend, and use barbecue tongs to attack those mosquito bites on your back side. You’ve earned it.

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