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June 8, 1998 e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


First of all, are you guys all okay?

I mean, I know we all thought Spice meant Forever. But what can I tell you? People change, things end. As Brooklyn psychologist Dr. Alan Hilfer recently told the New York Daily News, "This is a taste of real life...It's about learning that the Spice Girls are human and that they have their own issues and their own agendas -- that they struggle to learn to get along with each other." Breakup Girl hopes that in that sense, this news might free up those of you in troublesome relationships to, if necessary, "Ginger" yourselves. Breakup Girl also hopes that each one of you will at some point experience a breakup that will actually register a perceptible blip on the stock market. I mean, we all think our own breakups are international incidents; we might as well have proof.

Anyway, enough about Breakup Spice. On to this week's topic. You know, you guys may not realize it, but normally it's you -- via your letters -- who tell me what you want, what you really really want, to see addressed as the weekly themes for these columns. I spot a trend or preponderance of questions on a particular topic, and boom, it's the issue of the week.

But this week, Breakup Girl is one step ahead of you. (And not only because of the supa dupa fast new toy that just arrived at BG HQ.)
Let's put it this way: I Know What You're Going to Do This Summer.

But before anything happens, put this column at the top of your summer reading list.

Summer Spice

What is it about summer romance? Why -- here above the equator, anyway -- is there no such thing as a Winter Fling? What were they thinking, re-releasing "Grease" in the spring? Theories abound as to why summer makes us all hot and bothered. For one thing, unless you are Smilla, seasonal shoulder-baring tanks and open-toed sandals are generally considered more flirtatious than the average anorak. Also, unless you are a lifeguard, the summer seems to bring on that crazysexycool feeling of reduced responsibility and urgency: 8 PM looks and feels like 3; vegans say, "Aw, what's one cheeseburger!" -- and since your must-see TV is in reruns, heck, even your VCR is on vacation.

Some experts even say -- I am not making this up -- that the male body actually produces more testosterone during summer months. Something about the position of the Earth in its orbit around the sun. Whatever. I say it's because -- well, as my friend Matt once pointed out, "there's hardly a man in America whose hormones don't start pumping at the thought of searing a huge chunk of cow over the open coals." (He added: "But when a New Yorker barbeques, he gets the added rush of knowing that he's an outlaw, the Jesse James -- Jesse James-Beard? -- of the brownstones, because open-flame cooking is apparently illegal in most NY public and private spaces. Which means that barbecuing legally in the city confers yet a different kind of manliness, because it means that the barbecuer has some abnormally large yard or deck. Especially in Manhattan, such real estate identifies the chef as filthy stinking rich. And in this town, there's nothing more macho than money.")

Add to that Greg Gutfeld's recent ode (in ... oh dear, was it New Woman magazine?) to the gal who can lustily put away a side of beef (while tying a cherry stem in a knot with her tongue?) and, well, presumably the hormones have been howling since Memorial Day. Plus now we've gotIndependence Day coming up: why, even the name sounds brave, heroic ... manly. (We, the people, need our space! We are the founding fathers, not the founding equal parents! Tea is for wimps! We're going to sign our great big signatures everywhere! Ha!) Especially in comparison to anything having to do with "memory, " which -- as even the gentlemen are first to admit -- isn't really a male strong point, unless you're talking about the Rain-Man-esque capacity to recall, say, the fact that from 1947 to 1964 the Yankees missed the World Series only three times (1948, 1954, 1959).

And don't forget summer's ultimate testoster-offering:fireworks. Now, don't get me wrong, women love fireworks, too. I adore them, actually. But when women watch them, we think, "Oooh, swirly!" Men think "KA-POW!!!"

Oh, and then, apparently, there's this trendlet taking place among summer shares in the Hamptons. Since these houses tend to have strict girlfriend/guest policies (as in: against), some guys have gotten the bright idea to kick in for two shares, in case of romance. "I know a bunch of guys who did this," one Ted Lauer recently told the New York Times. "Life in January can be very different from life in June." Indeed. (Are women doing this too? the Times wanted to know. "Not that I know of," responded one female share-er. "Women are too superstitious. To get a double share in a house thinking you'll have a boyfriend by summer would be considered a huge jinx.")

But enough Mars and Venus in the Summer; back to my main point. Whatever the reason, the urge -- male and female -- for summer love is fierce and unique. Summer romance is, in a way, like summer movies. See, in the winter, we're picky. We're not going to bundle up, arrive an hour early (chill, New Yorkers, it's a movie, not an international flight) and wait on line outside -- twice (tickets, then seats) -- unless we're absolutely sure what we're getting ourselves into. But in the summer, we don't scour reviews, we don't care, we don't ask. The questions get only about as tough as: "If it's called Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, how will there be a sequel?" or "Mommy, can I have the action figures, soundtrack, and Happy Meal tie-in?" or "How did Godzilla manage to rip off every movie ... except Godzilla?"* or "The a/c's busted-can we have our money back?: In the summer, we are spineless from lying on our backs in Central Park all day. Our friend wants to see Free Willy IX: Orca Ninja -- whatever, we'll go.

You see where I'm going with this. It's not that our standards are lower, it's that they're different. In the summer, we just want to see a movie; in the summer, we just want to see ... someone. Just because. Because it's summer.

Which is fine with Breakup Girl.


If you are both on the same page. (Just like I told Miss Fling.) This would be a lousy time, for example, for a hell-of-it hookup with someone who you know wants more. It is a great time to be as vigilant with your feelings as Breakup Mom wants you all to be with your hamburger. If you both know it's a summer thing -- or at least that's how you feel now -- then fine, party on. Or if you feel that it could be the real thing, well then obviously. But no monkey business about, "Well, I'll let him/her think I think it's only a summer thing, but after three months of my shoulder-baring tanks and ass-kicking barbeque sauce, s/he'll come/stick around." I mean, it might happen. But -- to invoke one more "summer" comparison -- summer romance is kind of like summer camp. You and your friend(s) are totally inseparable ... until you're separated. To put it another way: how many people do you remember who were 2 Good 2 B 4 Gotten?

Okay, you guys? Go out and play. With SPF 50 on your heart. Also don't forget that little part on top of your ears.

* source: Paul the Intern



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