Just to mix things up a bit, here’s a fake letter I wrote last winter. It’s satire, but I grew up in the Arizona heat, so it comes from the heart.
It’s Ryan. I’m writing on behalf of friends and family, and we speak from the heart when we say that it’s time you put on some pants. There’s frost on the cars here in Columbus. Fall leaves have fallen. We dig your dedication to summer vibes and summer jams. No one loves sand volleyball and a barbecue more than you, but you’re a forty-three-year-old father of two dressed in Billabong tees, board shorts and Rainbow sandals, and squirrels are scrambling past you gathering nuts. It’s time to add “Respect” to your summer playlist, because if you can’t take yourself seriously, who can?
Sorry to be a buzzkill. We’ve been tight since sixth grade, but I have to harsh your mellow and say what no one will: you look like a tool. We know you want it to still be July. And May and June and August. But the earth’s axis squeezed summer right out of the northern hemisphere, and exposing your chapped red calves in thirty degree weather isn’t going to change that.
This is hard for me. Hearing this must be hard for you. You can open a bottle of Corona with your teeth, but inside, your spirit animal’s a manatee. Never lose that. Also never forget that you’re going to lose sensation in your toes if you don’t put on real shoes.
You’re a sweet guy who just wants to kick back and pop a tab and let everyone know that life’s a beach. No worries, bra. But we are worried. About your arms. They aren’t blue yet, but by Christmas they will be without protective layers. Being chill isn’t the same as being frostbitten, which is the real reason you stroll with your hands in your pockets.
When we were teenagers, you lived by that saying “Summer’s an attitude not a season,” until a pair of wet Vans in February proved that summer is a season, too. That didn’t jive with your worldview.
Now when you take your kids to the pumpkin patch in a Rip Curl t-shirt and Flojos, the people taking tickets whisper behind your back. No one’s buying the “laid back soul brother” thing. No one buys it in April.
You can hide it from people at Chili’s, but those who know you know you’re pressing your arms to your sides for warmth. You’re only fooling yourself, and maybe that scrawny teenager at PacSun who’s also wearing flip-flops and whose mom drove him there. You drove yourself. It’s time to dress like it.
We remember how stoked you were when PacSun opened in Columbus. Suddenly your life filled with “Beware of Dog” towels and longboards you don’t ride but that look cool in your garage. You’ve never surfed. Nobody holds that against you. In fact, no one but me knows that the only time you’ve visited Cabo was for church mission work. It’s just so convincing when you rap about how surfing’s more than a sport, it’s a lifestyle, even here in what geologists call the Glacial Till Plains.
No one wants you to hang in Margaritaville more than us. But you left it when you decided to have kids and a banking career. And those two tickets to paradise? They were actually to Mike’s wedding in Cape Cod four years ago. No amount of Prince Jammy songs can change that. You can’t bonghit your way back to one weekend where you had a babysitter and no reason not to pass out on the beach clutching a bottle of Cuervo. Your wife won’t put up with this much longer. Waste away in Margaritaville all you want, bud, so long as you do it in your heated basement.
College is over. And summer, and that Carolina coast trip we took twelve years ago where you tried to boogie board but the seaweed freaked you out when it brushed your toes. That’s why we got those hibiscus tattoos: to always remember. Times change, memories fade, but that ink will keep its color. Hawaii’s still out there, floating in azure water, awaiting you. So are pending loan applications waiting on your desk.
Why are you so stubborn? Pants don’t look uncool. Winter shorts do. You have it backwards, like your Hurly hat. Slacks are for stiffs, but jeans tastefully paired with polished leather boots and a nice button up are handsome. You want to revive your sex life? Well, there’s your fix.
If you’re worried that dressing your age makes you look like a dad, it’s too late. You’re only making it worse by wearing a striped tank-top and hemp choker.
Fine. You played football. Anyone can see you’re built, but size won’t protect your extremities when you already have diabetic circulation problems and are on blood thinners. Remember what Coach Adkins told us before games: strength is physique plus intelligence, foresight, and admitting when you’re wrong, and man, are you wrong about summer.
Don’t get me wrong. Endless Summer is a classic. Of course an original 1966 movie poster should hang in your and Margie’s bedroom. It’s just, that whole permanent summer thing only works if you’re not already a permanent father.
Everything’s cool. Life’s still a beach. But if you get some weather-appropriate adult clothing, people will stop laughing when they see you walking down the street looking like the kind of guy who wishes he’d seen Sublime in concert in the ’90s. Have some dignity. No one under forty says ‘concert.’
Listen, we care about you, but don’t grow up for our sake. Grow up for you. It’s the only way it’ll stick. Until then, know that we’re here if you need us, though what you need right now is a quality down jacket. Let’s set a date with your wife to go get one at Nordstrom’s, and some Oxfords, and a tie. While we’re there, we’ll trade that Hurly hat for a Patagonia beanie and buy a snowboard, because summer’s over, dude. It’s time for pants.