Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Things I Learned This Summer

As I bid a fond farewell to my favorite season, I am called to pause and reflect on what I have learned as a result of 12 unstructured, relatively workless weeks. As always, I share this new found knowledge with you, my Fellow Graces:

1. I Abhor Manual Labor.

In a fit of unaccustomed frugality and motivation, my siblings concocted a plan to paint the family's beach house. I mean literally paint the house, not hire picturesque, lean, muscular-in-an-appealing-non-steroid-enhanced-way, suntanned college students. Of course, there is no Gracious way to be the sole sister unwilling to participate, and despite the fact that I don't even paint my own nails, I did wield scrapers, brushes and rollers for the better part of Labor Day weekend. I suppose the timing had a certain aptness, given the onerous toil of the task at hand. The good news is, the house does look much better, the bad news is, we have shown that, in a pinch, we have the capacity for this type of enterprise. I am signing off shortly to book non-refundable tickets to be elsewhere next Labor Day. My contribution to whatever DIY project they hatch next will be a generous gift card to Home Depot and perhaps a delivery of pizza and beer phoned in from afar.

2. Fit Flops Are a Scam.

Yes, they are comfortable. Yes, they are far more supportive and walkable than the flimsy two dollar jobs available at drugstores. I wear my black patent Fit Flops everywhere, despite their relative homeliness. But in terms of toning legs and core? Nil. This marks my third summer in this clunky footwear, and you know how much this city girl walks. My shape has not changed measurably as a result of clomping around in these eyesores despite miles and miles. So, go ahead and wear them for comfort (though not for style). Just don't expect to have legs like Cameron Diaz as a result.

3. Ben Franklin Was Right.

After three days, fish and guests do stink. I learned this the hard way. A visitor brought the fixings for his justifiably famous homemade sushi. Grantly move, for sure. He made an overly generous batch, and, despite my insistence that the stuff was delish but had no shelf life, he was equally insistent that we keep it. There the Grantliness ceased. It appeared that the sushi was his ticket to commandeer the prime spot under the umbrella on the beach each day, claim sole control of the remote each evening to watch pre-season NFL games, despite equally fervent interest from fellow tele-viewers in the Phillies game, the Yankees game, the US Open tennis match, DC Housewives, and a documentary on the polar ice caps, and to lift not a finger to assist in cleaning, cooking or general upkeep of the house. The same cannot be said of his willingness to lift 12 oz cans to his lips. By the end of the second day, I would have eaten the aging maki rolls to expedite his departure.

4. Other People's Kids Are a Minefield

"Johnny ate a candy bar before dinner. Why can't I have one?" "I don't want to go to bed now. My cousins don't have a bedtime ever." "If Susie doesn't have to eat vegetables I won't either." "I hate sunscreen and hats. Aunt Jess never makes her kids wear them." Tempting though it is to say, "That's why Johnny has 17 cavities. Do you like the dentist's drill?" and "That's why your cousins can't sustain the attention sufficient to dress themselves" and "Susie buys her clothes in the 'chubby' section. Do you like her wardrobe?" and "Aunt Jess obviously doesn't care if her children die of melanoma but I do." you don't say those things. You bite your tongue and say, "Different families have different rules" and plan to take a solo vacation next summer.

5. Audiobooks Rock.

I may be one of the few holdouts that has not succumbed to movie screens in my car. As a result, we have become devotees of audiobooks. This summer, through our extensive road trips all over the east coast, We completed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and The Lightning Thief.

So as the summer ebbs away like so many low tides, I shall embrace fall. The cashmere, the beaujelais nouveau, and much socializing with my Dear Graces, whom I missed sorely during my travels, will ease the transition.

Welcome Back everyone!

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