Stephanie Hayes sig

For some emotionally adjusted folks, Easter weekend signifies renewal and optimism wrapped in baby blue blooms. It means the sun has peeked through a cloud of seasonal affective disorder, opening a door to another endless summer of wave runners, malty drinks in white cans and sandy little tootsies.

However, for those of us who get told to smile a lot in grocery stores, this time of year draws out a different feeling. One of concern. One of consternation and perspiration. One of worsening rosacea.

This is the end of the line, Tampa Bay. Yes, we have enjoyed a cool-ish few days with a much needed splash of rain. Maybe we opened windows and breathed big, happy poofs on post-deviled egg holiday walks, blithely marveling at how Americans consume so many eggs with mayonnaise.

That gentle breeze — that’s gaslighting. True Floridians know the current blip is one of several mild weather fake-outs before the real heat takes the wheel, fast and furious. April showers mean the long, miserable summer is lurking like the Babadook, ready to cackle as the chafed interiors of our collective thighs cry out.

It is no coincidence that this change of seasons coincides generally with tax day. The price of a beautiful, breezy winter sans wool socks is months of 100% humidity coupled with a reasonable phobia of hurricanes. This is to say nothing of the larger existential dread of climate change engulfing us via a million tasty nibbles.

Yay! From here until, probably — November? December? Jantober? — the following stolen items can be found jingling inside the sheriff of Nottingham’s cursed beach bag:

Styled hair. There is no use trying to beautify. Those with straight hair may attempt to curl it; the waves will hold for 35 seconds before surrendering in disgrace. Those with curly and textured hair may pack away styling tools altogether, the way a resident of Cleveland stores a turtleneck collection for summer. Why try? Bald folks are the big winners of Florida summer, so congrats to bald folks! (Wear a hat, though, as we do not need you to get suspicious moles.)

Couch cushions. Speaking of hair, do you have cats? Do you have a couch? Well, you don’t have both. Dogs do this magical thing where their fur acts as insulation, but cats are a far more direct species. Cats, who would flip us off and smoke menthols if able, molt more when they’re hot, coating every purr-face with a shiny layer of loathing. My cat is 17 and has claimed the microfiber ottoman for her evil empire.

Pleasant smells. Nah, forget it. We’re about to stink real bad, besties, and unless you have the life of leisure to take multiple showers daily, accept the musk! Get used to mouth-breathing and politely smiling as others pass. Don’t even think about using perfume unless you want to be covered in mosquitoes like Wooly Willy.

Light colors. Black is the only hue that doesn’t showcase the Sisyphean swirls of sweat squeezed out on a sojourn around the St. Pete Pier or Sparkman Wharf. Or, more honestly, somewhere landlocked like Brandon youth sports fields. That is just fine, as I intend to take a page from Dracula and sleep inside an icy coffin cloaked in inky darkness while the poisonous sun remains aloft. Very chic.

After-dinner walks. Dogs may regulate their temperatures, but they can still overheat. This means they don’t want to walk blocks in the swamp air, glancing sidelong into neighborhood windows to see which newscasts everyone is watching. Not the way dogs did in March, anyway, when dogs discovered the house with the patchy grass is a CNN house, the one with the pontoon boat is a Fox News house and the one with the garden gnomes exclusively watches reruns of “Three’s Company.” The casual spying will have to wait. Yes, we are still talking about dogs. Why do you ask?

Stephanie Hayes is a columnist for the Tampa Bay Times.