Summer has everyone fooled into thinking it’s the year’s most easygoing season: the permission to eat fudge and ice cream; the school’s-out vibe that extends even to adults; the e-mail trickle. It makes you forget that summer carries risks — and we’re not talking about mere physical annoyances like mosquito bites or sunburns. With the unofficial start to summer behind us, are you ready for June, July, and August? Test yourself with this summer disaster preparedness quiz:
1. Relatives with free-range toddler twins, an inability to converse without whipping out their phones to force a YouTube video on you, and a dog with its own iPad and a wardrobe superior to yours are making good on their Thanksgiving threat to visit. You:
A. Find fun activities so people are out of the house, and stock up on the kids’ favorite cereals.
B. Remind yourself that happiness comes from giving to others, and make sure you have ample face and bath towels.
C. Badmouth them on Facebook, and then, guilt-ridden, go so overboard with the hospitality that they extend their stay.
2. An outdoorsy business contact has insisted you and your indoorsy family visit her on Nantucket. You:
A. Hunt for a hostess gift that’s the right mix of whimsy and luxury (an artisan s’mores kit?) and cram The New Yorker.
B. Learn nautical terms like “hard-a-lee,” and practice your backhand on the town tennis court.
C. Accept the invitation; spend the next several weeks trying to think of a graceful way out; decide that you’ll fake a last-minute illness; scratch that idea for fear of bad karma; turn on your children and spouse; wolf down a container of Chunky Monkey.
3. You’re going to the Cape in late August, meaning you have nearly three months to lose weight. You:
B. Cut down on desserts and sugary cocktails.
C. Complain about looking fat; buy a Fitbit and download the Lose It! app — and promise yourself you’ll use them; accept the hard truth that if you don’t already have a beach body you’ll never have one; buy an overpriced designer coverup (dry clean only); and ask your spouse whether you look fat.
4. Desperate for work-life balance, you decide that gardening will fix your career and family problems. Your garden spot gets shade only. You:
A. Study the needs of different plants and settle on a perennial that does well without sunlight, such as bigroot geranium, with its lovely pink flowers.
B. Satisfy your gardening itch by buying and planting window boxes for the sunny side of your house.
C. Lie to the garden-center person when he asks how much sun you get so he’ll sell you sun-loving roses. Plant the bushes, and then, as they fail to thrive, ignore them because they remind you of your failure. Stop watering. Mix sugary cocktail.
5. You are going on a two-week trip to Europe, where you’ll be traveling by train and staying at places without washing machines. When packing, you:
A. Take only garments that can be easily handwashed and dry quickly.
B. Make sure the pants and shorts and tops can all mix and match.
C. Employ magical thinking, and pack clothes that you don’t wear at home because they’re too tight and don’t go with anything, assuming that they’ll somehow work for Vacation You.
6. You’re packing your kids for a trip to a small beach town with no stores. You:
A. Start a few weeks early, so you see what still fits from last summer.
B. Cut down on tween clothing-related meltdowns by insisting your middle-schooler pack her own stuff.
C. Wait until two nights before departure to get started. Throw a nutty when everyone’s Tevas, bathing suits, and shorts turn out to be way too small. Go online, order new clothes, pay for expedited shipping (thereby ensuring arrival shortly after you’ve left). Spend the first two days of your vacation driving around hunting for replacements.
7. Your kids and spouse have told you they don’t like your posting vacation pictures of them on Facebook. You:
A. Respect their wishes, and share only selfies and landscape shots.
B. Decide to take a much-needed vacation from Facebook.
C. Sneak off several times a day to upload pictures, figuring that despite what they say, your loved ones really do want their friends, colleagues, supervisors, and employees to see them holding a beer or learning to twerk.
8. Every summer you throw yourself a pity party because you’re stuck in the city while everyone else is feeling the sand between their toes. This year you’ve decided to do a house-share on Martha’s Vineyard. You:
A. Choose housemates carefully, including only those who don’t hog outlets; don’t hold strong beliefs about food from either end of the foodie spectrum; don’t rub their Iron Man training regimen in your face.
B. Conduct extensive online research.
C. Front the money for the rental yourself, as the organizer, and (unsuccessfully) try to collect from (now former) pals
after the vacation (fiasco) has (mercifully) ended.
So how’d you do? If your answers were A’s or B’s, you can travel with confidence. If you got mainly C’s — or even one C — may we suggest a staycation?Beth Teitell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @bethteitell.