July 2009

He Says, She Says: Summer Love

Author: Keith Kelson & Jean Wharton | Photographer: photography by anne

I’m one of the more romantic dudes you’ll come across. My iPod is filled with love songs by artists like Rick James and Van Halen. What sane man would deny being romantic? Ladies, if you ever meet a man who says that he’s not romantic, run the other way and don’t look back. But after receiving this month’s topic, I had to ask myself, “Is a summer romance better than a romance in the winter, spring or fall? Should I tell the good readers of CH2 that it’s okay to have a summer love affair?” Sorry, but I just can’t do it.

Last year, the county estimates that 65 percent of all heartbroken locals here on Hilton Head Island were involved in summer romances. I’ll bet most of the readers weren’t aware that the county keeps track of all the heartbroken locals. They simply tabulate how many times Michael Bolton’s “How Am I supposed To Live Without You” is played in local watering holes. Based on my own observations, I say the percentages are closer to at 75 percent. Summer romances are just way too fleeting for me. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just the love-’em-and-leave-’em types. No, even the seemingly innocent nice guy or girl will eventually pull the plug on a summer romance. They always do, leaving heartbreak in their wake. They may be on the island working or they may be visiting tourists, but the minute summer starts to become fall, they’ll want to have a talk with the poor unsuspecting local.

I should point out that the lucky ones get the talk. The unlucky ones are greeted with a wave from a speeding vehicle as their summer love heads back to the Midwest and the big city. Those big-city types will claim to have been swept away because of the sun, sand and moonlit beach walks. They’ll point to the fact that they were on vacation and any romance that happens while you’re on vacation is just not to be taken seriously. Hey, everybody knows the rules, don’t they?
Well, unfortunately everyone isn’t aware that summer romances are destined to be short-lived flings with built in expiration dates. Flings may be common in the big city, but this is the Lowcountry. The good folks who live in small towns like Hilton Head don’t go around having flings. It’s time to face facts that these big-city types from Akron and Canton Ohio are slicker than a cell phone covered in suntan oil. That’s why, if you’re smart, you’ll ignore that cute little number in that yellow sun dress smiling at you and giving you the “come hither” look. Sure, you can go over there and introduce yourself, but you’ll wind up another heart-broken statistic. You’ll be singing Michael Bolton’s greatest hits in a local pub while she’s back in Ohio watching another Cleveland team choke in the playoffs.

By the way, thanks a lot, LeBron. I should have known better. Never bet on any sports team from Ohio that has three guys with last names you can’t pronounce. How can you have the best record in the league, sweep your first two opponents and lose to a team coached by a guy named Stan? I could understand if the Cavs lost to the Lakers, but Orlando? Sheesh..

Which brings me back to this month’s topic. Summer romances will disappoint you in the end. Trust me when I say that your heart will be broken. But you won’t listen to me. Go on and have your summer fling. You’ll be miserable when it ends, and it always ends badly, you know.

You’ll be left scratching your head, dazed and confused. Just like I’m asking how the Cavs could implode at the worst possible time. I mean, they weren’t able to defend the pick and roll. The guards missed wide open jump shots. They refused to play basic defense. They let a guy with the nickname “Skip To My Lou” carve them up like a Thanksgiving turkey. It’s madness I say. But I digress.

Why take the risk with a summer fling? In the fall, the air is nice and crisp and you can sit in front of a roaring fire with your sweetie sipping hot cider. You and your sweetheart can rub noses like the Eskimos do. Nothing is cuter than nose rubbing in the fall and winter months, you know. Try rubbing noses in the summer months. It’s not nearly as cute.

Besides, the county’s romance division reports that 95 percent of the married couples here on the island say that they had fall or winter romances. I wouldn’t make something like that up.

Summer romance has been immortalized countless times on stage, screen and in song, so much so that the very notion boarders on cliché. “Summer loving, had me a blast…summer loving, happened so fast.” The infamous ballad from the musical
Grease begins, and with it goes the relationship logic of generations of single gals who begin a fruitless search for their Danny Zuko.

When the temperatures reach 100 degrees, it seems that the rational thoughts that keep men and women in sensible relationships during the other three seasons boil over into frivolity. People don’t break up in the fall; it’s too close to the holiday season of parties, events and special occasions that call for (or rather demand) one to have a date. Not to mention the giving and receiving of gifts, which makes it a frowned upon time for a break up. Can’t end it after the holidays because up next is Valentines, and most people don’t want to do the lonely heart thing on V-day. Which leaves springtime for a break up and the summer for the next fling.

In order to have a proper summer romance, one must surrender the qualities they normally seek out in a partner. In place of intelligence, honesty and sense of humor, a shallower list of attributes takes hold. If you’re under the age of 18, a summer romance may mostly be based around physical attraction…does he or she look good in a bathing suit? Who am I kidding, this is true for summer flingers of all ages. An athletic, tan, shirtless guy driving a jeep which may or may not include a surf board is a hard summer fantasy to rid oneself of at any age.
Summer love will mostly likely fall into one of three categories:

Vacation Fling: You’re in a hotspot for a week or two (perhaps international); you meet a hottie and proceed to spend the rest of your vacation time “getting to know one another.” When the vacation is over, so is the romance. With technological advances making long distance love more legitimate, this relationship can extend its shelf life into the fall, but in most cases, it ends at the airport, train station or rental car drop-off.

Summer Off: Dominated by high school and college-age lovers, a “Summer Off” romance means that two people find themselves in the same place for about three months—just enough time to cultivate a bond and make lasting memories. “Summer Off” implies that a person has another life from which they are taking a break during the hot months to work, play or travel. Note to male single readers in the Hilton Head area, this writer is a teacher and has the “Summer Off.”

Hot and Bothered: The dog days of summer can lead to some frisky behavior by both sexes. The days are long and hot; people are wearing less clothing and showering more frequently. It seems that people seek out fun and exciting things to fill their summer days and nights. For those seeking a hot romance, no strings attached, the summer months are the perfect time to snatch up a love (in any form that you may be seeking).

In no way am I advocating breaking up with your partner in search of one of the above relationships. Any frequent reader of He Says/She Says knows that I am most often found on the practical side of relationship arguments. I recognize, however, that people seek out affection and that the summer is a great time to find something the other seasons don’t offer. People don’t write songs about winter lover or autumn romance. Research shows that vitamin D actually boosts libido and sweat carries pheromones essential to attraction. So, all those hot bodies playing volleyball at the Tiki Hut have the right idea.

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