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Pots & pans: It’s time to slide into summer, it’s Memorial Day

Whether it’s Kool-Aid or champagne, let’s toast ’cause summer is here

On Memorial Day, many of us return to the water. The ocean washes up on West Coast beaches. The spray from open fire hydrants splashes onto smiling faces in East Coast cities. On Memorial Day, many of us return to the land, rural campsites to big-city parks.

We crank up the volume on our stereos looking for the good-times soundtrack, today and yesterday, Motown to Nashville, Chic to Alan Jackson.

We eat strawberries and cream and chase them down with champagne. We eat roast pig and chase it down with cervezas. We eat fried chicken and chase it down with Kool-Aid, grape or cherry.

We dance, dance, dance, often in a line, but sometimes in delirious circles, our mouths open, as if we want to let the sunshine in. We watch the elders defy the march of time with their stunning and surprising dance moves. We march to the malls, our charge cards at the ready, to take no prisoners at the holiday sales.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with mourning the servicemembers who have died in the nation’s wars.

But Memorial Day can be what you make of it, what you want and need it to be.

And many of us need Memorial Day to be a time for barbecue, beaches and beer, the moment that the door into summer gets kicked open by feet shod in high-heeled sneakers, or cowboy boots or sandals.

After all, school is already out for many colleges and universities. And nothing announces summer more deliciously than the end of school.

In the coming days and weeks, the children freed from school will beguile us at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby, The Little League Baseball World Series, celebrations of Americana through childhood competitions.

More importantly, in summer, the children beguile one another, lost in the poetry of unscripted play, a celebration of the childhood imagination.

And then there is love.

There is nothing like love, especially a new love, especially in summer, a kiss that lasts forever.

Throughout the year, TV brings us together to tell us horror stories, death and destruction, tumult and terror, with seemingly no one ready, willing or able to save us.

But the Memorial Day weekend begins the summer movie blockbuster season in earnest. Hollywood brings us together under the cover of darkness at our multiplex movie theaters: The American summer blockbusters give us bombs bursting in air, men with square jaws and women with hourglass figures. The good bad guys, the bad good guys, the superheroes, the ultimate outsiders, to save the day before all the popcorn has been eaten.

As always, Memorial Day finds the sports world in transition. The NBA and the NHL are set to choose champions. Then the focus of most big-time pro sports will move from indoors to outdoors, and Major League Baseball will enjoy its season in the sun.

No matter what games we play, no matter how well or how badly, we can all be boys and girls of summer.

And, for many of us, summer begins today.

Cheers!

A graduate of Hampton University, Jeff Rivers worked for Ebony, HBO and three daily newspapers, winning multiple awards for his columns. Jeff and his wife live in New Jersey and have two children, a son Marc and a daughter Lauren.