Summertime, and the living is easy. Easy, that is, if you happen to own one of Charleston’s most coveted accessories: a boat or a mountain house. After all, the only way to survive the overpowering heat of our sultry season is to escape it. Established families figured this out generations ago and secured homes in the North Carolina mountains. They’ve hung on to these places with an intensity that must be genetic—and sadly does not run in my bloodline.
Others have had the good fortune to acquire boats. I’m not talking bass boats here (although I’d be happy to take one of those babies). I’m talking the sleek, fiberglass play spaces that dot the marinas—the kind assigned precious names that evoke courtroom victories, misspent youths, successful IPOs, and sundry other lucky breaks.
I, sadly, lack either. Oh, sure, I have plenty of things to celebrate: Good health. People I love who love me. Meaningful work. A Labrador retriever on the cusp of learning how to fetch a beer from a cooler. Yet I still pine for those aforementioned trappings of success. And if you, dear reader, share my pain, I am here to help. What follows are tips for making our great escape this summer—no trust funds required.
We all know this is a sociable town, where spring and early summer are marked by a multitude of cocktail parties and drop-ins (thanks to festivities like Spoleto). So take a page from business networking pros and socialize with a purpose. Turn up your antennae and eavesdrop for telltale words and phrases like: “Cashiers,” “Highlands,” “fireplace,” “Coon Dog Day,” and “never turned on the A/C.” Also, pay close attention if you encounter conversations punctuated by mentions of “deep sea,” “jetties,” “dockside,” “Capers,” “50-foot,” and “my crew.” Sidle up to these sparkling conversationalists and friend them. Friend them hard. Find common interests. Drop hints that you know a never-fail fishing spot or where to score the best barbecue in Saluda.
But be warned: if you get an invite, there will be work to do. In the boating world, what goes in must come out and must be scraped, waxed, and readied for a long winter’s nap. Ditto the mountain house, where one must be prepared to do a good bit of laundering and find novel ways to cook the mystery meat that’s been in the freezer since Memorial Day weekend. Play a long game and be the new friend who manages to get invited back.
Didn’t receive any coveted invites? Fake it til you make it or at least until you almost believe you’re on vacation. It’s simple: Take a good look at your Facebook friend list and Twitter followers. Mine your Instagram feed and Snapchat pals. And now prepare to lie to all of them through a series of “braggies” that are more fiction than fact.
Start your campaign next weekend. Take a few selfies of you holding a koozied beer positioned in front of a sand dune, tag it “#saltlife” and “#boatersmakebetterlovers,” and watch the likes pile up. Now post something about the jerk who almost ran into you in the ICW: “#starboard,” “#boatmuch?” Share a series of shots and Tweets about Morris Island, SPF 50, and your missing Costa sunglasses. Then, go dark.
On the following Saturday, don some flannel and visit your old auntie. Pose your bad self in front of her knotty pine walls. Snap. Post “#visithighlands,” “#68degrees,” “#mountainlife.” Follow that up later with a photo of barbecue and Budweiser on a checkered tablecloth (“#blessed,” “#kinfolkrock”).
Keep this up all summer, spinning a giant skein of adventure that induces envy in others, and perhaps a few invitations. The only drawback is that you must stay inside your house every weekend, so as not to reveal your real whereabouts. And that’s so much easier when following the final tip….
Take a good look at your Facebook friend list and Twitter followers. Mine your Instagram feed and Snapchat pals. And now prepare to lie to all of them through a series of “braggies” that are more fiction than fact.
Hole Up With It
You’re stuck inside, so console yourself with a marathon on Netflix. After all, nothing will make you feel better about your lackluster summer than watching somebody else’s terrible one. Load up your list with a few classics: Body Heat (so much sweat!), I Know What You Did Last Summer, several seasons of Survivor, and a few servings of Naked and Alone (also a great weight-loss program!).
Or you can literally chill out by imagining how you’d navigate The Day After Tomorrow, where blizzards consume Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, and the entire Northeast. (Or just YouTube some Boston 2015 winter videos). Surf reality TV’s Ice Road Truckers and Deadliest Catch. Just like that, you will welcome the blistering heat awaiting your walk to the mailbox.
So there you have it, a foolproof way to fake yourself to the best summer ever. Whether you’re cruising the harbor in a Hatteras or cruising up I-26 in a luggage-encrusted Expedition, thank me for helping make it happen. And if you’re stuck in your living room, give me a call. I’ll bring the beer—and the cooler-diving Labrador.