Dreaming of carefree summer days

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 25, 2006

These summer temperatures have had me longing for summer. Or even spring.

Summer, they say, is for rebirth. It's a time to run, jump, and laugh. To drink icy Dr. Pepper and eat grilled hamburgers after taking a few turns with the lawnmower over green grass so thick it's like shag carpet. It's when a light rain on a hot day runs parallel with baptism, washing all your cares away.

It wouldn't be summer without the heat, which draws complaints from the old, myself included. But children, you notice, never complain. The heat is nothing that a good long dip in the pool won't cure.

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Another thing concerning children: summer is supposed to be three months of whimsical daydreaming fun. Yet today, we have our boys and girls ushered back into the confines of a school building by early August. I'm not saying that's wrong. But it's almost like something uniquely American was sacrificed along the way on the pretense that our children would be better off because of it.

One fall day, playing intramural football at Troy, I sacrificed my right knee for the sake of competition. I planted a cleat, twisted the wrong way, felt a pop and hit the ground. Diagnosis? Knee cartilage shredded. ACL torn. Surgery, followed by six months of rehabilitation.

One summer day, not more than a few months after the initial incident, I sacrificed my left knee playing a pick-up basketball game. My ankle rolled. My knee buckled. ACL tear.

Rather than choosing to have yet another surgery, I gave up competitive sports for good. Which for a person who enjoyed the camaraderie, the exercise, the high-five's, the bumps, the bruises, was almost like giving away my youth way too early in life.

I often joke with my friends that I may actually come out and play a basketball game with them one time. I'll play point guard, I say. I'll stay at one point on the court and pass or shoot the ball. No movement. No risk of further injury.

That's what summer was for me. A hot day of basketball and Gatorade breaks, then a meet-up later that night, at someone's house. Loud music in the car. Riding to town for something to eat. Windows rolled down. Flirting with girls. Kissing a few. Looking for a party.

A carefree, youthful, summer. I can't remember when it ended, but it did.

As Bob Seger said, turn the page.

Kevin Pearcey is Group Managing Editor of Greenville Newspapers, LLC. He can be reached by phone at 383-9302, ext. 136 or by email at: editor@greenville.advocate.com.