Memorial Day Weekend is here! Meaning the summer season has officially started, with all the joys and stresses that come with it. One of those stresses is the mad, fraught dash to get out of the city every Friday, sometimes successful, sometimes not. But that's OK. A weekend in the city can be fun, too. Really, there are infinite ways to enjoy a summer weekend. Here are five of them.
At the Beach
The place looks OK, right? You keep checking the website to make sure the "charming" bungalow right off the water that you've rented for the long weekend isn't a dump. It doesn't look like a dump, does it? I mean, that weird smear on the wall is just a trick of the light, you're pretty sure. And then when you do get there after a too-long drive sitting in exhaust fumes, well, yeah, OK, you're not sure you would normally sit on a couch that looked and smelled like that, but whatever, it's fine, it's a vacation house, not the Ritz. Hm, and, how does this— This is the stove, right? And, huh, you thought they said there were four beds? Oh, the couch is a bed? The mildewy one in the living room? Great, OK. This porch is nice, isn't it? Oooh, look at all the earwigs. What a nice feature. And all these nails sticking out everywhere. You can hang your towels on them! How convenient. Yeah, don't worry about the tap water, all water by the beach is brown, you're pretty sure. This is going to be so much fun! Let's check out the beach! Ohh, this is... this is nice. So many rocks! Rocks are fun, huh? Interesting, looks like there are a lot of diabetics in the area who like to litter. Lotta needles. Well, no matter, at least all the seagull shit smells great. Okee doke, back to the house. Who brought the booze? What? No, you weren't supposed to bring it. You were expressly told that someone else was taking care of that. So there's none? Well this is just terrific. What a great weekend this is going to be. Oh, look, another earwig.
At the Estate
You knew Ainsley's parents were rich, but this is ridiculous. That gravel "road" you drove down for like ten minutes... yeah, that was the driveway. And then you pulled up to the house and you half expected Jackie Onassis to come out and greet you. Have you ever been to a "compound" before? This could very well be your first time on an actual compound. So that's interesting. Oh, and there's Ainsley's mother with a huge tumbler of water — oops, no that's gin, definitely gin. Well, whatever, it's almost noon. It looks like you'll be in the guest house, Ainsley is sorry it's such a mess (there's a paint can in the corner) but they're redoing the whole place, and these lazy workers didn't get finished in time for the season. Some people just don't have a work ethic. Anyway, Ainsley's telling you she's going to go dress for dinner and she'll see you out on the main terrace at six for cocktails. Um, "dress for dinner"? Like, put on different shorts? You'll have to fake a dinner outfit somehow. It doesn't really matter what you're wearing when you get there, because Ainsley's mother is half-conscious and her father barely acknowledges your presence, giving you a terse nod before returning to whatever business call he's on at 6 p.m. on a Saturday. Well, it doesn't matter until Ainsley's brother Schuyler shows up and holy moses the last time you saw him he was some scrawny kid visiting his big sister at college, but now it's like a sorcerer made a Polo ad come to life. And he's telling you he can't wait to take you out on the boat tomorrow and you're thinking he can take you anywhere he wants. Before you thought rich people were weird, but now you think maybe they're kinda great.
In the City
Paul and all them rented that beach house for the weekend and Sarah's at Ainsley's parents' house, but you're stuck here in old Stinktown. But that's OK, right? The city can be fun when it's emptied out; it's nice when the streets are a little less crowded. And there's plenty to do here! You could go to a museum, you could go to the park, you could see a concert or a play, you could even run all those errands you've been meaning to do for months but keep putting off, like buying new sheets or going to the frame store. Yup, you could do all those things. You're not going to do them, but you could. What you're going to do is call up some other sad friend who has no plans for the holiday weekend and you're going to meet at some place and sit outside and talk about nothing and basically say "Keep 'em coming" to the waitress and, hey, chips and salsa count as lunch, right? By the time it gets dark it's going to seem like a great idea to go dancing, which will go on for much longer than it should and the next morning you'll wake up sideways on your bed gasping for water. After some ibuprofen and a gallon of seltzer you'll start to think about maybe going to a museum, or the park, or to a show, or finally going to Bed Bath & Beyond, but then you'll turn on the TV and it'll be a Real World marathon of a season you haven't seen, so you'll turn on the AC, order some real lunch, and that'll be that. Who needs a beach house when you've got a Real World house?
At the Wedding
Hey, you know what would be great? You know what would be the perfect way to spend one of the very few long weekends of the summer? Getting in the car and driving just far enough that you'll have to stay for the night and going to some long boring church service followed by a dinner of rubbery chicken at some "event space" in the middle of nowhere surrounded by people you don't know. Can you think of any better way to spend this glorious weekend than getting dressed up and sitting in uncomfortable pews and chairs for hours, listening to awkward, interminably long toasts and a terrible cover band and then checking into some sad room at the Hampton Inn, all for the low, low cost of hundreds and hundreds of dollars? I bet you can't think of a single thing you'd rather be doing on this gorgeous summer weekend. Not at the beach house with Paul and all them, not with Sarah at Ainsley's parents' house (Schuyler, sweet Schuyler...), and definitely not bopping around an empty city with whoever's hanging around. Nope. This is exactly where you want to be. In Connecticut, with your parents, at your cousin Sheila's wedding, who you haven't even seen in like ten years. Yup. It's perfect. Thank god they didn't elope.
What weekend? Look, someone's gotta be manning the liquor store register when a bunch of annoyed yuppies come in, loudly complaining about the beach house they rented. And drunken old WASPs and their bratty prep kids' friends don't make their own dinners, do they? Those drunken loudmouths at table six who've been planted there for hours eating nothing but chips and salsa sure seem to be having fun, but you can't have fun because Denise called out sick so you had to work a double and oh god, they want another round. Catering some lame wedding sure is how you want to spend the nicest day of the year so far, all those bored guests rolling their eyes the whole time and barely touching their chicken. Oh, wait, no it's not, you'd rather be doing literally anything else, but y'know what, student loans are a helluva thing and you've got a helluva lot of them. So you're glad that other people get to fuss on about their lovely summer weekend plans — bitching about the horrors of their charming beach cottage, getting sloppy and breaking a glass (which you have to clean up) when they find out that little lord Schuyler's roommate Chad isn't just his roommate, stumbling out on a $100 check, sulking rudely in a corner at an expensive party someone was nice enough to invite them to — but some of us have work to do.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.