Summer=Nope by Courtney McKinney-Whitaker

I dread summer.

There, I said it. Sue me. Threaten me with libel. I see all these flip-flop and sun hat and fruity drink themed items appear every year, and I am filled with a feeling of deep loathing. 

My mom says that when I was a baby and she tried to take me outside even covered up and in the shade, I screamed and screamed until she took me in. I probably saved her from skin cancer, so you're welcome, Mom.

I was born and raised in South Carolina—a subtropical climate—among people who had been South Carolinians for over 300 years, so you'd think we'd be genetically acclimated, and most of us were. But not me.

I hate the heat.

It turns out I may have a medical reason for this: I'm allergic to the sun.

When I was in Brazil at 17, I noticed these itchy little bumps all over. It happened again on my honeymoon in Hawaii at 24. At that point, I figured it was the tropical sun. I knew I burned easily, and I figured the tropical sun must be stronger.

Now, I am not one of those people with a serious illness who will die if exposed to the sun. But it does hurt, and it only really bothers me in summer, on those immensely hot days when the sun is beating down. Direct, strong sunlight is not my friend. (Read about my friend's theory that I am a vampire.)

I will never willingly take a beach vacation again. You know where I like to go in summer? Canada (2010), the Colorado Plateau (2011), Upstate NY/Maine (2012), regular Colorado (2013), New Hampshire/Upstate NY (2015), and Scotland (2016).

Guess what? It gets hot in all those places, but it doesn't stay a bazillion degrees for days (and nights) on end like it does in South Carolina and even (South Carolinians will not believe this, but it's true) in Illinois, where I live now.

However, I've never spent a hotter summer than the one I spent in Montreal.

I got the worst sunburn of my life (2nd degree burns, no less) in Canada. It was the summer of 2010. Record-breaking heat in Montreal, where I was doing a French immersion month at UQàM to brush up on my French minor.

The first afternoon of the program, we did a walking tour of the city with this old man who wore black long sleeves and pants and a backpack and never broke a sweat. That night I realized my back was bleeding. I will hear "On va"—which  he said, mercilessly, a million times, as he dragged us all over that city—in my nightmares.

I had to go to the mall to buy shorts because I had stupidly listened to my husband's Upstate NY family—and my husband himself—who said it wouldn't be that hot (you know, not to someone from SC), and I thought they should know. Well, the joke was on them because they had to drive up and bring me fans from the Wal-mart across the border. Not that spending the day in Montreal is such a bad thing. Unless it's a bazillion degrees. I still remember someone saying something about getting poutine, and my husband's aunt fanning herself and protesting, "Non, non, en hiver seulement."

Those are still my favorite shorts, though, so something good came of it. I even patched them when they started wearing through last summer.

It was so hot in Montreal that people were scalping fans. People were using the underground sidewalks (designed for winter) to avoid the heat. I was living in a dorm on the sixth floor and my window opened about three inches and of course there was no air conditioning because it's Canada.

People seem to always want to have fun outside in the summer. Not me. I don't want to come to a pool party, or a picnic, or anything else that involves me under the blazing sun. I do not want to lie on the beach. It hurts, and it is boring. It is my own personal idea of hell.

I loved spending a month in Scotland last summer. It was rainy and overcast. Except for the part of the trip where it was insanely hot and I got sunburned. Looking at you, Staffa.

I'm a lot more fun in the fall. 

After cleverly managing to avoid going home in the summer for years, I will be spending two weeks in SC in July. Fair warning, friends and family.


  1. Courtney, you must come visit me in Columbus Ohio during the Cloudy Season-- gray days stretching on interminably from November to March. You will LOVE it :)

    1. Oh, we have that here, too, and it does get old. Now, if I could find a place to go for the summer where it was reasonably warm (not hot) but cloudy, I would be set.

  2. LOL, Courtney, I hear you on the heat loathing! I'm from Mass and so many people here want to go to SC, NC or Arizona when they retire. Not me, I'm heading to Maine (where you only go to the beach to swim for five minutes and get out before you freeze!). Fun post!

    1. I was not made for the heat...and not for the extreme cold, either. I LOVE New England in the summer :-)

  3. I'm not that anti summer, but it's not my favorite season either. I like the vacation, kids home, long days, windows open, kind of thing--but the heat--especially the humidity Yuck!

  4. Agreed--there are things I like, but the bugs, snakes, humidity, general all around stickiness are not for me.

  5. As a relative I am currently enjoying 70 degree pleasant weather in Indiana and this morning I resisted turning on the heat for a moment. Wait, I grew up in South Carolina via Pennsylvania so my genes may be a little adapted. Just avoid August. Much love to you
    and your family.

    1. Aunt Martha is the one who told me a sun allergy runs in the family--after I was diagnosed. She said she had it. I also resisted turning on the heat this morning. Ridiculous on June 27th! <3

  6. I'll never understand you non-teachers.

    1. Haha! I taught college English for five years--fall is STILL my favorite time of year!

  7. I was a TOTAL summer person when I was younger. Went through college summer school with no a/c in my car and didn't care. I'm not quite as crazy about it as I used to be...


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