Summer Is A Bummer

Whatever happened to the  summers of my youth?

I really miss them – the arrival of June, the end of school, and the extended daylight. Summers once were carefree. Now, they’re a health hazard.

Enjoying summer is difficult when I’m repeatedly reminded of the risks that accompany this time of year: sunburn, heat stroke, mosquito- and tick-borne diseases.

Stepping outside unprotected feels like extreme risk-taking behavior. Going hatless can provide an adrenaline rush.

At the beach, my inner child longs to swim freely and build sand castles. But my outer adult worries about skin cancer, age spots, and if my SPF 50 is destroying a coral reef.

And no rides in the convertible until the sun sets. Even with the top up, one is not safe because the harmful rays can penetrate glass. I’m considering window treatments for my Toyota, or shall we say, my melanoma magnet.

Recently I read many sunscreens contain potentially harmful ingredients like retinyl palmitate and oxybenzone. I try to read the ingredients on the tubes
now to be safe but sometimes the type is just too little. Is this a conspiracy?

I wonder if there’s a protocol for applying sun protection? If I apply moisturizer first, will that prevent the sunblock from working? But if I apply sunblock first, will that prevent the moisturizer from diminishing my wrinkles?

Either way, there are now two layers of grease on my face before I apply any makeup and I feel like a stick of butter. Once, mosquito bites were simply that–itchy bumps that soon subsided.

Now there’s the Zika virus, requiring additional cover and repellent. So, do I spray before or after the sunblock and moisturizer? Someone suggested wearing
netting over our faces. I’m thinking of attaching mine to an air pollution
mask to make a statement – fashion or otherwise.

As a kid, I never heard of ticks. Ticks were sounds from grandpa’s pocket watch. Now, there’s bug spray and protective clothing to prevent Lyme’s disease. So am I supposed to walk my dog in 90 degree weather looking like I’m dressed for winter? I’ll likely die of heat stroke.

As I stand behind a screen door and watch my grandchildren run barefoot while my daughter chases them with sunblock, another thought occurs.

Summer hasn’t changed; I have. Summer’s always had its perils, but to care about them is the responsibility of adults

Susan Goldfein holds a doctorate in Communication Disorders from Teachers
College, Columbia University, and enjoyed a successful career as a clinician,
teacher, and consultant. For more essays filled with wit, wisdom and irony,
visit Susan’s blog, Her book, How Old Am I in Dog
Years? may be purchased on and


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