Rules for summer in Tampa Bay
Don’t pee in the pool! Don’t poop on the splash pad!
The rules of summer in Tampa Bay are simple and finite.
The rules of summer in Tampa Bay are simple and finite. [ Tampa Bay Times (2014) ]
Published July 7

The following rules for summer are non-negotiable. Please observe them to the letter or management reserves the right to remove you from the premises and send you to live in Jacksonville:

If you see something mysterious floating onshore, the first thing to do is panic. Assume the worst. It is probably aliens, or at the very least, detritus from an egregious chemical accident brought on by deregulation. That way, when a good-natured biologist says in the newspaper that the curious matter is simply a type of buoyant leaf bleached by the sun and not some cursed intergalactic spaghetti, it will feel like early Christmas.

Do not ask “What’s that smell?” unless you really want to know.

Always carry two pairs of shoes: One for the morning when your feet are a normal size and the skies are clear, one for the afternoon when they have swollen up a size and a half and the streets are gushing with rains the sewers rejected.

It’s not Sprite and cheap wine. It is Tinto de Verano. It’s not Coke and cheap wine. It’s Kalimotxo. It’s a sophisticated Spanish drink in your 20-ounce knockoff Yeti tumbler from Dollar General, and you are a gorgeous luminary of exquisite, exclusive tastes.

Conversations about the following topics are not meant for the hottest part of the day: finances, debt, relationship statuses, career changes, the existence of a higher power, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, diet and exercise habits, why the planet is spiking to record-breaking temperatures, who started what, what you meant by what you said, who didn’t say what they think they said, who needs to watch their tone when they say what they say, and finally, black holes.

Ten thousand steps a day is an admirable goal, but not in Tampa Bay, with a heat index of 100 and a matrix of communities linked almost exclusively by multi-lane highways. Three thousand steps will do, with the exception of the last three weeks of August, when 300 steps are temporarily acceptable.

Wear the bathing suit. Everyone else is too worried about how they look in their own bathing suit to think about you.

Expose your feet outside the covers at night from the months of July to September. Yes, there is most likely a home invader waiting at the foot of your bed to grab your exposed dogs, but you must assume this risk in these bleak months.

Hurricane supply snacks are not for midnight. They are not for 2 a.m. They are not for noon. They are not for summer camp lunch boxes or purse padding. The Atlantic is extra hot this year. These snacks must remain sequestered for a worst-case scenario in which the only available creature comfort for days may be a 100-calorie packet of mini Oreos.

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The order is shower → robe → nap → clothes, maybe.

Bike shorts go under dresses, and if you don’t know why, this rule is not for you.

There is no “I” in team, and there is no “I” in infinite scream, but there is an “I” in ice cream, so you know what to do, champ.

Don’t pee in the pool, which is a shared, confined space. Do pee in the ocean, if you must, because the ocean is wretched, a terrifying abyss of freaky aquatic ogres. The denizens of deep water have spikes and fangs and stingers and jagged teeth and bladders filled with gas, and they laugh in the face of your little bathroom break. They’re all peeing, too.

Maybe stay out of the ocean.

Don’t let your kids poop on the splash pad. It’s gross and shuts down the splash pad for everyone else and causes people to murmur, glancing around for the child with the heaviest swim diaper.

Don’t shame people whose kids unexpectedly poop on the splash pad. Imagine you are a frazzled parent whose spawn has been infinite screaming for ice cream for a forgotten number of days. They’ve finally toddled off peacefully with a friend to play under the magic mushroom umbrella. You briefly close your eyes and take a sip from your Dollar General tumbler when you look up to a horror. Park employees are bringing out the orange cones. Everyone is looking at a kid. The kid looks a lot like yours.

Empathy is always the way.

Children deserve to live, even if they poop on the splash pad.

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