There are many things for which we must brace ourselves when returning to Yale in the fall. There’s the anxiety that comes with seeingliterallyeveryoneyouknow at once in your first trek across Old Campus. There’s the horrifying realization that eating salt-and-vinegar chips while crashing the Netflix server is no longer socially acceptable. And of course, the mythic, the immortal, the perennial question: “How was your summer?”
The whole thing is a travesty, really. WEEKEND doesn’t actually care about your summer (no offense). And you don’t care about ours. So why do we ask? Are Yalies all secretly masochists at heart? (Actually pls don’t answer that.) Whatever the reason, we continue to sail blindly across the murky waters of this conversational tradition. For this week’s Doubletruck, we’ve come to tell you what “How was your summer?” — and our answers to it — truly mean.
Back to School Acquaintanceship: A Translation
// by Caroline Hart
Student A: How was your summer?
Student B: I thought it was really impressive, actually — totally worth putting on my résumé. But I’m going to briefly summarize it now in a casual, low-key way!
Student A: No way! I actually didn’t do anything, but have been feeling a lot of pressure to make it sound like I left the couch at my parents’ house! So, in good fun, I prepared a one-to-two sentence spiel that I recite whenever someone asks me this exact question!
Student B: Haha, well here we go with mine! For the first month and a half, I was in Naypyidaw interning for the Burmese water conservation committee.
Student A: No way! Totally love that place based on how it looked in your Facebook pictures.
Student B: Yeah, it was the chillest place of all time! What were you up to?
Student A: Well, I worked at a local web start-up. Actually, it was more of a blog that I ran from home. Actually, I kept a really active Pinterest board.
Student B: Wow, I had no idea that you were into web design! I, too, enjoy technology, and in the second half of the summer, my friend and I created an app just for kicks! It’s called Churrobutton, and with just a few clicks, a fresh pastry is delivered to your exact location within minutes!
Student A: Now that’s my kind of fun! That’s what summer is all about — just hanging out and stuff!
Student B: Yeah, for sure. So same page. We have so much in common, and definitely, definitely need to get a meal sometime.
“How was Your Summer?”: A critical discourse
// by David Whipple
“How was your summer?”
“What do you mean by that?”
“What do you mean, what do I mean?”
“Well, that’s just such an ambiguous statement.”
“Not really, dude…”
“No, think about it. Like, what does “summer” even mean? Are you just referring to the months of May through August? Because that’s winter in the southern hemisphere. So if that is what you mean — and I’m not saying that it is — then I think you’re really taking a global-north perspective when you ask that question. What if I had spent those months in Australia, where it was winter, and then you asked me about my summer? Wouldn’t you really be asking me about your summer?”
“Um… I dunno, I hadn’t really thought about it that much…”
“Well that’s pretty clear. I think if you had, you would have realized how problematic some parts of that question can be. How can you even say it was my summer? That’s like saying that just because we go to Yale, we’re entitled to have entire seasons to ourselves. Like, “Oh, my daddy is in the House, so we get March all to ourselves. But if he gets appointed to Ways and Means then we might be able to get October.” How elitist is that? So I think what you meant to say is, ‘How were our months of May through August?’ That’s a very different and, I think, more democratic question.”
“OK, fine. How were —”
“Not that that’s a perfect phrasing, of course. One could argue that it puts a lot of disparate phenomena into a typology that might not very carefully constructed. Like, the months of May through August were different for everyone who experienced them. First of all, they started at different times depending on where you live in relation to the international date line. Like, if you live in China, May begins a full twenty-four hours before it does in Sitka, Alaska. The same is true when August ends. Like I said before, you have to be careful not to act like the Western perspective is the only one. But if you’re willing to do that, then I think we’re ready to have this discussion. Ask me again.”
“Jesus Christ, dude. OK. How were our months of May through August?”
“Pretty chill, I had an internship with Goldman.”
Flarf Poem in Response to “How was your summer?”
// by Margaret Shultz
My summer was oh my god so good so so good.
My summer was great. My summer was fine.
My summer was OK or boring and also too hot, you know?
My summer was cool. My summer was on fire. My summer was spent putting out forest fires in Brazil.
My summer was kind of boring. My summer was stimulating. My summer engaged myself.
My summer took itself for long walks on the beach, oh my summer swam by my side at sunset.
My summer experienced things it had never experienced before, you know? My summer knows.
My summer was at home. My summer was in New Haven. My summer existed only in my mind.
If only I could go back to Paris. If only I could go back to my summer.
If only my summer could lie in the dirt on Cross Campus and cover its head with its arms and cry and cry and cry.