Sunday, May 28, 2006

Holiday Well-Wishing

Midway through Memorial Day weekend and all is well so far. This unofficial but traditional start of summer is primed for disaster. What with sobriety check points, vacation planning, family get-togethers and the like, it is little wonder that come Tuesday there will be reports emanating from gossip all the way to national news about the tragic events that unfolded. Ranging from the trivial to the catastrophic, all manner of the manifestations of Murphy’s Law will be told and retold. Some may obtain legendary proportions while others will fade into just another forgettable holiday.

Many well-wishers expressed their cordialities prior the commencement the first three-day weekend of the summer season. They all hoped for a happy Memorial Day and many included the additional caveat that it be a “safe” weekend. The implication is, of course, that additional caution should be exercised. Sage advice indeed, but why should it be necessary? Does this holiday mark the beginning of the “party season” as well? Is it just understood that this class of holidays is inherently more dangerous by nature? Does this heightened security level return to normal after the danger has passed or is it a seasonal phenomenon?

Rhetorical questions mostly. The sad fact is that there are enough intoxicated revelers in all the usual places to grant this and other like holidays its unfortunate but deserved reputation. Although a general harbinger of virtually every summer weekend, the big holiday weekends not only bring out the worst in the worst but also, it seems, the worst in the otherwise responsible and respectful. The regular duty drunks are out in force and the part-timers, the reserves get into the action too.

Perhaps it is pent up frustration of an extended winter - all cooped up inside with no escape in sight. Oh, sure there’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Veterans Day, Presidents Day, MLK Day, Cesar Chavez’s Birthday, etc., etc., but they don’t really count. After all, those holidays didn’t mark the beginning of summer! Maybe it’s the “hot summer days” that compel celebrants to consume enough liquid refreshment to keep their thirsts quenched. Could it be the “heat of the moment” that requires so many “cold ones?”

Regardless, the irresponsibility has done something that was painfully apparent as this weekend approached: The well-wishers’ well wishes now include a warning - to be safe. It’s not like the warning of “drive safely” that some are known for saying every time someone gets behind the wheel. That really is a synonym for goodbye, much the same as “How are you?” is a synonym for hello. Most of the time, we don’t really mean it literally. However, when I was told to have a safe weekend, I didn’t get the feeling that it was just idle conversation.

It’s almost planned, temporary anarchy. The cops are ready, the partiers are ready and the rest of us are “being safe.” There's a veritable feeding frenzy. The emissaries of summer acting with impunity versus the defenders of order deployed en masse. The carnage has already begun as preliminary casualty reports trickle back from the front. By the time the first of the three nights had come to a close, several had already died in this immediate area alone. I guess they didn’t heed that warning well enough – be safe.

Have a great three-day weekend everyone... and a safe one!


Ellen said...

I think you hit the nail on the head when you stated that Memorial Day was the unofficial start of the summer partying... but it is also the official start of pre-vacations for most people. It's our first long weekend of the summer when most pools open, and beaches become game to swimmers who will brave the still cold waters.

What is it that they don't take heed to be safe? I don't know... but I'm sure it has a lot to do with drinking too many brews in their quest of freedom from "cabin-feveritis".... and then taking to the road.

Here's hoping that your weekend will remain safe for you and your family!

Bar L. said...

Sobering post (seriously not pun was intended). Its sad when you have to worry about being safe. Its even sadder that meaning behind this holiday takes a backseat to the real meaning of Memorial Day.

Biker Betty said...

I think a lot of it, too, is that there is a lot of people out on the roads this weekend. More cars, more chances of "oops'."

For me, it does mark the beginning of summer. My kids are out of school and my part-time job in school is gone till school starts again. Now that my kids are older, I'm not already counting the days till school starts again (lol).

Have a Great Weekend

Snaggle Tooth said...

Good luck living through every one else's party week-end! It's happenin here full steam ahead, as usual on Cape Cod- sirens blarin many times, all over town!

We get drunken boat-drivers also! Last year a drunken couple got pulled (drowned) out of the water right outside my window!

Party-ers, have fun, but keep your wits about you!
Good-luck to the straight, too!

Lady Prism said...

my goodness!...doesn't sound happy to me...

I'm sorry...we don't have that here...the Memorial Day...

I hope it wasa safe happy one for you and your family..

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

It is true, that this officially blasts the summer months forward.

Unfortunately, this summer, the weather patterns are stranger, the prices of gas are higher, and our even changing government is becoming more and more pittiful by the day.

That being said, enjoy your weekend!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I understand to a degree that this is the unofficial beinning of summer, but I do feel that Memorial Day itself and why we have a day like this has been obscured by "Happy Memorial Day" and Bar-B-Q's and an incredible amount of drinking...and partying...(They are already on that route across the street from me with very loud nusic and this will continue all day)...People are not Celebrating our Dead Hero's...they are celebrating a chance to get together and drink and party.,,and that's okay, sort of, but how did this day become about something else entirely?

So I one and all, I hope it is a safe day today. And if you are drinking, do not drive.
Great Post as always Mike...!

Helene said...

Oh my this is a bit of a downer big guy... nice post and I understand the thought behind it, but...

Ok from my perspective, we are all going to go somehow,someway. I was dating a guy in college whos sister was driving home from a visit with him and hit and killed by a drunk driver... it was April... One can hope that with the additional awareness and police enforcement that it may be safer than not... idk

Be safe and smart about your time here... but fuck... just enjoy it too. I have seen way too many people die before they were old and gray... taking so many precautions... forgetting to live in the meantime. I know people who dont go out on New Years Eve because of drunk drivers... I know people who dont use their good china too...

Ok I bet this ISNT what you had in mind for a comment and perhaps I should delete it, but I am in a crabby sarcastic bummer of a mood... so I will leave it. You have my permission to delete it if you want. I totally understand!

Michael K. Althouse said...

ellen ~ It is apparently the beginning of the summer party season with Labor Day being the official close. It's almost as if certain people are on a mission, one that has little to do with the Holiday's purpose.

barb ~ Ditto.

bb ~ All true - and that's why some of that increased traffic is sporting black and white.

snaggletooth ~ It's like that at every vacation destination apparently. The locals know to stay out of the mix. It's a madhouse at Folsom Lake near my home... and at my parent's place on the much smaller Lake Tulloch.

lux ~ it's not all bad, it can and is a wonderful kick-off to the summer, it just demands added caution, and that is sad.

bfc ~ it does seem a little less pronounced with the cooler weather this weekend until I read the news reports that tell me DUI deaths are about the same as are arrests.

oolith ~ said: And if you are drinking, do not drive.

That would solve most of the problems.

kate ~ there's nothing wrong with being in a crabby, sarcastic mood - it's a feeling I know all too well. Also, FYI, I'll only delete posts that are obnoxious and disrespectful, and yours is neither. It's just your opinion and you are free to express it here.

I will admit that this post is not exactly very balanced and that these three day weekends are a blast on many levels. What spurred my post was the realization that most good tidings also came with the cautionary "be safe" and that got me thinking "why." I don't mean to be overly morbid.