Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Obligatory Season

I say the best part of the weekend’s Thursday night, the best part of the school year's the last week of June exams. It’s always better when it’s all in front of you. That’s why I think this is the best time of year. It’s Thursday night for the next month, then summer hits and the clock starts tick-tick-ticking towards winter. This is the best, but also the worst. Obligatory Season is here.

What is Obligatory Season? It’s the time of year when the weather’s right, the grill beckons, and weekends fill up with events that take time and cost money. First up on the Obligatory Calendar is College Graduation Weekend. Is there anything more annoying than having to throw away a gorgeous Mid-May weekend for your second cousin’s graduation jubilee? The car leaves Friday right after work, and you get home just in time to run a load of laundry on Sunday night. In the meantime, you’ve had to fight crowds and stand in dress clothes on a huge lawn while six thousand kids you don’t care about get their degrees.

But it means so much to second cousin. Actually, he’s been hung over all weekend, didn’t even notice you were there, and makes no acknowledgement of the time and money and hotel room this cost you, till two months later when you get the generic thank-you card, because his mother made him write it. Don’t worry though, because you just got the graduation-hat-shaped invite for the party in July, so you’ll have another chance to pony up a hundred bucks you don’t have. The Obligatory Season’s off and running.

Mom is good and great and wonderful, which brings us to stop two on the Obligatory Train. Why can’t Mother’s Day be on a Saturday, so that we can do something fun to celebrate the woman who gave us the gift of life? It’s always that mid-afternoon get together on Sunday, where we drive to mom’s house and admire her new antique collectables or her flowerbeds, and watch her open gifts she doesn’t like or vaguely understands. “What’s this do now?” . . . “Oh, I see, OK.” Can I get some clear guidelines about who gets a Mother’s Day acknowledgement? I’m sure some aunt or colleague or the woman at Starbucks will wonder why I didn’t wish her a happy one. It’s very confusing.

Next on the caravan of Obligatory Events: Memorial Day then July 4th then Flag Day, and all those kinds of mid-summer days, where people get drunk and bar-b-cue, or spend the weekend in some tent getting poured on for three straight days. Maybe I don’t get pumped for days like that because of my profession. I didn’t even know it was our great nation’s birthday till like 3:30 last July 4th. I don’t wear American Flag shirts or eat hot dogs, and good luck getting me on the lake in the boat that day. It’s mobbed with every halfwit in the world. I’ll be out there on the 5th and 6th and 7th and the next sixty straight days.

No Obligatory Season would be complete without the montage of summer weddings. I'm not anti-wedding; I'm actually hungry for a great one. The best wedding I ever went to was my cousin Jen’s. Weddings are tough to pull off. It takes about eighty grand and a heaping dose of originality to make one really good. I am jonesing for a good wedding.

Before long it’ll be August which means enough Saratoga to suffocate an Orca and of course County Fair time. And the Obligatory Season will wind down with a Labor Day bash for the ages. This is when we celebrate the end of another summer that didn’t quite measure up to the magical expectations we had way back on Mother’s Day. And just like that: tick-tick-done. It’s time for autumn and thoughts of the soon-coming winter.

But right now it's spring and the whole show is ahead of us. And I couldn't be more excited. It's Thursday night. It's the last week of June exams. It's the best part. So bring on the best Obligatory Season ever.

Brian Huba

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