Jul 06, 2016, 10:39AM

The Single Bravest Act of Summer

It doesn’t involve sunscreen-free tanning on a nude beach.

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If you’re in public view at any point during the summer, there’s a 99.8 percent chance that you look completely ridiculous. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing; it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing; it doesn’t matter whether you’re unflappably cool or sweating uncontrollably. Pedestrians, bicyclists, streakers, bathers, lifeguards, derelicts, merchants, skateboarders, poseurs in throwback jams and jellies: everyone—everyone—appears unavoidably awkward and goofy, roasting in the mid-day sun’s punishing glare.

Yet there is a singular category of especially ludicrous summer people, a group that reliably encompasses fools of all races, ages, genders, sub-genders, and ethnicities. From June through early September, you encounter them everywhere; perhaps their natural tendency to unnerve goes unremarked upon as a result of their ubiquity. They are people who purchase and consume ice cream in public. Swirl cones, double-scoop cones, triple-scoop cones, ice-cream sandwiches, even popsicles and Italian ices; the experience of seeing these consumed is simultaneously embarrassing and excruciating, probably either because it’s impossible to learn how to consume them without looking like a doofus, or it’s impossible to remember. Something about frozen, creamy treats inspires an unselfconscious bravery in people who will eagerly overestimate the size of their mouths or their own personal capacities for freon-grade cold. Thus we wind up with very odd juxtapositions of relief and agony, with unironically accentuated facial hair, with multiple sheepish trips to the counter to score more napkins. 


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