July Fourth has passed, taking its patriotism, hot dogs and hope along with it. The enthusiasm, the buoyancy, the expectation of great things that the beginning of summer inevitably brings are over. It is now, officially, the dog days of summer.
John Brady's "Clavis Calendaria" describes this period as particularly evil, a time when "the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies."
I'm inclined to agree. But just because hell has ascended upon Richmond, it doesn't mean we should just sit idly by while the ice evaporates in our morning glass of Jack Daniels. Instead, try some of my favorite Richmond activities:
Sitting in a tepid pool of your own filth. Not all of us are lucky enough to be able to jet off to summer sojourns in the Outer Banks or Deltaville or Rehoboth or even the neighborhood water hole. This is why they invented baby pools. So grown-ass adults could fill them up with water and lazily float on their back deck, or on the sidewalk, or in the middle of Monument Avenue. Bonus points if you add a Slip 'N Slide or crack a fire hydrant.
Texas Beach. Is not a beach or particularly Texan (unless you count all the snakes), but it is a great place to do, well, pretty much whatever you want. Reading, nude sunbathing, substance consumption, laundry, explore nature, etc. While its cousin Belle Isle is generally a place for ill-bred "county-ites" to show off their prison tats and throw litter, Texas Beach is more secluded and thus, slightly more tame.
Drink gin (lots of it). Gin is great summer spirit — and winter, and autumn, and spring. I also like it during an Indian summer. What I'm saying is, it's not like drinking pine needles, regardless of what your idiot friends say. So I enlisted my friend and local mixologist Bobby Kruger to give me a simple, nondrink-nerd, gin-based summer drink. He delivered with the basil South Side: "Put 4-5 leaves of basil, juice from half a lime, 1/2 ounce simple syrup and 2 ounces gin in a shaker, fill shaker with ice, and then shake the holy hell out of it. Empty contents into a glass and top with a spanked basil leaf. Don't spank it when you're alone, though. That's just weird. The spank's for company. — Bobby." Now go drink about 20 of these in your baby pool.
Summer patio parties. Do 'em. All the time. If you aren't drinking on a patio then skip to the next option. Otherwise I'm liking these endless summer day parties my friends started at the 909 Courtyard. It's every Sunday at the Mutual Building. Live music, food trucks, mimosas, people in bathing suits. Tell them I sent you. It won't get you anything. They'll just laugh at you. They might not even let you in. You probably shouldn't tell them that.
Hide. The sweltering heat is brutal and even trying to fight it is futile. So don't. Lock yourself in a darkened bunker with central air conditioning and window units, naked, with copious amounts of popsicles, DVDs (porn) and ice-cold Faygo. Begin work on that screenplay you've been putting off. Quit in frustration hours later. Eventually start losing your mind and muttering things to yourself. Re-emerge in September, porcelain-skinned, bags under your eyes, 20 pounds overweight. Tell people you spent the summer at the beach where you met a boy. Tell them that it was love at first sight. Tell them more, like, did he have a car? Break into song. Then realize you're singing to a mailbox. Go back inside.
Drink from a Flabongo. There's only one lawn ornament that doubles as a drinking receptacle, I think, and it's called the Flabongo. I can't even explain it except to say, nothing is more "summer in Richmond" than taking a few Flabongos. Trust me. Flabongo.com.
True, a few months ago we were experiencing the worst winter that Richmond had seen in years and we would've given our firstborn to get to this point of the year. But now that we're here, and my face is melting, and my arm is getting burned by the seatbelt metal and my toddler is sweating bullets in the car while I "just run in the store real quick," I'm ready for it to be over.
If you need me, I'll be in the baby pool. Bring liquor.
(Oh relax. I cracked the windows!)
Connect with Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lauterback also is co-host of "Mornings with Melissa and Jack" on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. On Twitter @jackgoesforth.