Opinion: Outside In

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Adrift in the Doldrums

By David Weinstein

The Dog Days of Summer are upon us. I always thought that this expression came from the South, and I picture a lazy hound dog sleeping up under an expansive porch out of the sun while the residents above fan themselves and sip on mint juleps or sweet tea. Those hot sultry days when the weather is not “fit for a dog.” But like many things in life, I am wrong about this. In fact, it is the period from July 3 until Aug. 11.  Technically, it refers to the time when the Sun is in the same quadrant of the sky as Sirius, the brightest visible star, and a part of the constellation Canis Major. If you were paying attention in Latin class, unlike me, you would know that this means “greater dog,” and hence the expression “Dog Days”.

But, like many people in our country lately, on this point, I dismiss the scientific explanation and subscribe to the “alternate facts.” This is because it’s been so darn hot this summer that I have become that lazy hound dog lying up under the porch. If I was sensible, and could get motivated, I would head down to Main Beach, like, if you’ve noticed, everyone else in Southern California has been doing. But for some reason I seem to lack the “verve” to do this, and “lacking the verve” is only slightly less odious than “losing your Mojo”.

Maybe I’ve lost my motivation because I’ve recently retired and have not fully adjusted to my new circumstances: running inane errands and hunting for my lost passwords. Or perhaps it is because for the last year and a half I have been continuously told to do nothing: don’t go out in public, don’t gather in crowds, don’t breathe the air or have personal contact with others, and I am having trouble transitioning. I find myself awakening each morning with nothing to do and realizing by the end of the day I have only accomplished half of this. Even doing nothing can be anxiety-producing.

Curiously, I am envying my fellow columnists who seem to be adapting back to normal life just fine. So, I wonder if I should befriend Michael Ray and finagle a way to get invited on his next vacation. I scratch this idea only because I would have to figure out how to put together a GoFundMe campaign to finance the excursion, and I lack the technical savvy. Or maybe provoking Peter Blake and Toni Iseman into another confrontation would roust me out of my malaise. But no, that’s the sort of thing we kids used to do when we were bored out of our minds and those summer days were endless. The other option to pull me out of my funk is to take a road trip with Billy Fried to Burning Man in Black Rock City, Nevada. I’ve never been there. He could show me the ropes. My only requirement is that we take my 1987 VW Vanagon, in which the air conditioning is more aspirational than operational. If all else fails, I can always take those harmonica lessons and learn to play the blues. Low-down, it’s a fitting musical genre for these languid days of summer. I’ve been procrastinating this for the last 20 years.

Maybe the best idea is to just kick back and do nothing. After all, who am I to tempt fate when it’s written in the stars? So I think I’ll swap out that tequila for a gin and tonic, slide on under the porch, and wait for these days to pass.

You stay cool, too.

David is a resident of Newport Beach.

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