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Jerry’s Ink: Summer Lament, Or The Della Femina Curse


I publish this column every year as a public service to make sure your friends and relatives will think twice before they send you an invitation that will screw you out of a precious summer weekend.

WHY DO THEY DO IT?

It’s already started.


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Some close friends of mine are having their Memorial Day weekend spoiled because some heartless fiend has scheduled her college graduation party in some God-forsaken town in Pennsylvania. So after four years in a fine college what has this dopey graduate learned? Nothing. She still thinks her relatives would rather spend a Memorial Day Saturday with her than having a great weekend in the Hamptons.

Why do our friends and relatives destroy the summer for us? Why can’t they get married in February? Why do they choose the middle of summer to have birthdays, anniversaries, Bar Mitzvahs, family, college, high school and even nursery school reunions? That’s not all. Frankly, some of them are thoughtless enough to die on a Friday in June, July or August, and there goes another summer weekend.

I promise that if it’s possible, when it’s time for me to go, I will go on life support until some rainy Friday morning in January so that my mourners can bury me early in the morning and still enjoy a three-day weekend. That’s the kind of generous guy I am.

Now I know you’re wondering what I’m ranting about, since Memorial Day weekend is here and you’re on top of the world because it looks like another endless summer ahead. Let’s just see how endless it really is.

If you work Monday to Friday like me, that leaves you with around 13 summer Saturdays and Sundays, plus two long holiday weekends. So from the minute you’re reading this, summer weekends are a total of about 32 days.

Now you know that at least 9 or 10 of these days will be cold, rainy days where no matter how hard you try to avoid it you’ll end up arguing with your spouse. So write off 10 miserable days to weather and you’re left with 22 days.

Sound like a lot?

I bet everyone reading this already has one lost weekend coming up when your Aunt Matilda is celebrating her 60th wedding anniversary and she and your Uncle Benny would be broken-hearted if you don’t show up on a beautiful Saturday afternoon to their house in Brooklyn or the Bronx or Westchester or wherever the hell they live.

So, now you’re down to 21 days. If you’re young enough to have children, that means you’re stuck with a trip to some summer camp in Maine or Massachusetts, in the middle of what always turns out to be the most beautiful weather weekend of the summer.

This is where you are sentenced to spend the weekend admiring neatly made bunk beds and ceramic ashtrays.

Show me a camp that is wise enough to schedule parents’ visiting days on a Monday and Tuesday and I will show you a camp that deserves the exorbitant amount of money they get to guard your kids for the summer. An amount of money, I might add, that is more than it took, a few short years ago, to cover the tuition that would get a child through four years of an Ivy League college.

If your children are grown it’s even worse. They have children and all their children are having birthday parties in July, where you will find yourself overcome by heat, surrounded by 20 sticky 5-year-olds playing musical chairs.

What frosts me is the weather. Did you ever notice that every one of the weekends you have to go to a family event is beautiful? The sun is shining. The sky is blue. And you are stuck in some disgusting catering hall, or, worse, drinking warm white wine out of a plastic cup in some relative’s backyard in White Plains.

Which brings me to summer weddings in the city. They must be banned. Jerry Seinfeld, an East Hampton resident, had a message for all the newly engaged couples: “Nobody wants to go to your wedding! We are not excited like you are.” Mr. Seinfeld is so, so right. The only people who must attend a summer wedding are the bride and groom, their respective parents, the best man and the maid of honor and maybe a priest or a rabbi. All the other guests are hostages.

I remind every dewy-eyed couple in my family that in the summer it’s bad luck to get married any place west of Westhampton. I remind them of the famous Della Femina curse, which is still going strong. I have, in my life, attended four weddings on a summer holiday weekend and must report, in all honesty, that not one of these couples is still married. Pass the word: marriages of people who screw up my holiday weekends are doomed.

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