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Lazy summer days were made for the indoors

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Lynne D. Schwabe Lynne D. Schwabe
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Lynne D. Schwabe is the director of development for the National Youth Science Foundation. She can be reached at schwabestatejournal@gmail.com.

The air is balmy, things are beginning to flower, my neighbors are putting plants out on their decks and buying new porch furniture.

It is the time of year when, once again, I am reminded of the fact that there are basically two categories of people: The first category consists of people who, like me, realize the folly of being out in the world during the months when mosquitos, flies, bees, ants, flapping things, slithering things, humidity and melanoma lurk around every corner. The second category encompasses the other 99 percent of the world’s population.

I don’t understand it. Why do other people like sitting outside on the concrete patios of restaurants, wearing sunglasses and looking at the parking lot while fanning themselves with their napkins and sticking to their chairs? Is the car exhaust that wafts over them good for their skin? Do they enjoy the slight vibration of their chairs and tinkling of ice in their glasses as trucks rumble by? Does the accumulating dust on their food add an indefinable lagniappe that my palate isn’t sophisticated enough to detect?

In June, although my deck is very attractive with banked geraniums, I don’t want to go out there. It’s humid. There are leaves and twigs on the furniture, so I have to get out the little whisk broom and sweep things off in order to sit comfortably. I have to spray on some DEET, because I just saw a documentary about Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus. My iced tea gets warm really fast. I sweat. I try to read a book, but the heat makes me tired. It’s all totally exhausting. In the summer a friend of mine actually straps containers of OFF to his belt, like little hand grenades, so he’s prepared for any insect attack. I am not that ardent about the outdoors.

When I was growing up, our house had a large deck right outside the dining room. My parents would sit out there every night, sipping cocktails before dinner, admiring my mother’s garden. My father grilled out there. But we never, ever ate out there.

So, no, I do not want to eat al fresco. It’s too much trouble to put everything on trays, get out those dome things to keep off the flies, and light all the citronella candles (which never do the trick). Dinner outside is not all that relaxing, what with waving the flies off, ducking away from those nasty yellow jackets and mopping up sweat rivulets. After you are done, you have to drag everything back into the house. And have you noticed that this is where all the men and children who can carry dishes seem to disappear? Or if anyone does help, that person stacks the dishes because they have to be carried so far. This means that you have to rinse BOTH sides of the plates, which is twice as much work. Jeez. And if people think “the gloaming” is any better on the deck than it is from the safety of the dining room, there is just nothing I can say to convince them.

And don’t even get me started on picnics. All that salmonella culture baking in the hot sun: chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs. It’s food poisoning on speed dial. And it’s all so beautifully arranged on the plates that you know someone’s fingers have been all over it. This reminds me of a sign I saw once on a restaurant: “Ingredients as fresh as they were 27 years ago.” It made me laugh out loud.

Last summer I met a woman who confessed to me that she was a “mole.” I took in her pale white skin and realized after quick consideration that she tried never to let daylight hit her directly. I think it’s a policy worth examining.

What is wrong with everyone? Is it something to do with genetics? Am I the product of some Nordic strain that lived during the ice age and needed animal furs and fires in their caves? Are the rest of you — friends, family and neighbors — descended from equatorial tribes who lived on the deserts and wore loincloths and ate nuts and berries while traveling from place to place? I just don’t know. But I will continue to revel in the great indoors, giving thanks for central air conditioning and the Travel Channel while the rest of you rush outside to look at sunsets and sit on bug-infested patios, drinking lukewarm beverages and communing with nature.

I respect your right to pursue the pleasures of the “great outdoors.” But tomorrow I won’t have any chigger bites.