Midway through Memorial Day weekend and all is well so far. This unofficial but traditional start of summer is primed for disaster. What with sobriety check points, vacation planning, family get-togethers and the like, it is little wonder that come Tuesday there will be reports emanating from gossip all the way to national news about the tragic events that unfolded. Ranging from the trivial to the catastrophic, all manner of the manifestations of Murphy’s Law will be told and retold. Some may obtain legendary proportions while others will fade into just another forgettable holiday.
Many well-wishers expressed their cordialities prior the commencement the first three-day weekend of the summer season. They all hoped for a happy Memorial Day and many included the additional caveat that it be a “safe” weekend. The implication is, of course, that additional caution should be exercised. Sage advice indeed, but why should it be necessary? Does this holiday mark the beginning of the “party season” as well? Is it just understood that this class of holidays is inherently more dangerous by nature? Does this heightened security level return to normal after the danger has passed or is it a seasonal phenomenon?
Rhetorical questions mostly. The sad fact is that there are enough intoxicated revelers in all the usual places to grant this and other like holidays its unfortunate but deserved reputation. Although a general harbinger of virtually every summer weekend, the big holiday weekends not only bring out the worst in the worst but also, it seems, the worst in the otherwise responsible and respectful. The regular duty drunks are out in force and the part-timers, the reserves get into the action too.
Perhaps it is pent up frustration of an extended winter - all cooped up inside with no escape in sight. Oh, sure there’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Veterans Day, Presidents Day, MLK Day, Cesar Chavez’s Birthday, etc., etc., but they don’t really count. After all, those holidays didn’t mark the beginning of summer! Maybe it’s the “hot summer days” that compel celebrants to consume enough liquid refreshment to keep their thirsts quenched. Could it be the “heat of the moment” that requires so many “cold ones?”
Regardless, the irresponsibility has done something that was painfully apparent as this weekend approached: The well-wishers’ well wishes now include a warning - to be safe. It’s not like the warning of “drive safely” that some are known for saying every time someone gets behind the wheel. That really is a synonym for goodbye, much the same as “How are you?” is a synonym for hello. Most of the time, we don’t really mean it literally. However, when I was told to have a safe weekend, I didn’t get the feeling that it was just idle conversation.
It’s almost planned, temporary anarchy. The cops are ready, the partiers are ready and the rest of us are “being safe.” There's a veritable feeding frenzy. The emissaries of summer acting with impunity versus the defenders of order deployed en masse. The carnage has already begun as preliminary casualty reports trickle back from the front. By the time the first of the three nights had come to a close, several had already died in this immediate area alone. I guess they didn’t heed that warning well enough – be safe.
Have a great three-day weekend everyone... and a safe one!