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Aisle Seat: A Bummer Summer’s End

By Naomi Serviss / New York City

Poof, this summer’s history.

Not a moment too soon.

An unbearably sweltering July and August inspired neighbors to bounce upstate to second homes, or venture to Montreal and Tahiti.

To escape from New York, recharge, and breathe invisible air.

So Lew and I planned a dreamy one-day “voyage” (even though it meant sacrificing matinee tickets for an off-Broadway show about two geezers shooting the breeze.)

We looked forward to our brief escape from daily urban insults such as:

Gnawed open garbage bags

Rat residents


Bus exhaust

Air horns

Car horns

Can collectors

Wackadoodle homeless folk (armed?)

Sticky street tar

Sweaty, maskless midtown mobs

Yes, that’s summer in this dirty city.

I’m not kvetching for nothing. After 11 years, sensory overstimulation remains an insult to the nervous system.

Humidity thickens the gritty air. I continue to mask not only to virus-protect, but to prevent inhaling the soot.

Temperatures blaze into the 90s. Frizzing my over-stressed tresses. Not an opportune time for our worn-out bedroom air conditioner to blow.

Which harshed my Buddha Buzz. We were jones-ing for aSerenity Now!” moment.




“When in doubt, get out,” is our family’s modus operandi.

We (my husband Lew and I) had both been brain-zapped with the same favored destination.

Planting Fields Arboretum, on Long Island, our happy place. Second only to Long Beach Island’s Beach Haven.

Carless, we needed to rent one.

Avis is around the corner. A modest car was prepaid for and reserved ahead of time.

The below-ground parking garage was a sauna. We were fourth in line.

Didn’t get the small car, or any other vehicle.


The excuse given by the youthfully unpleasant,

nose-pierced agent, sounded unbelievable.

“Thing is, we don’t have any small cars.

I can give you a pick-up truck or a Tahoe.”

She called other locations. Nada.

Her nose piercing doodad wouldn’t have bothered me except for what appeared to be a large white mucus blog inside her right nostril.

It was hurl-worthy.

Thwarted plans, morning shot, we trudged back up the Avis driveway and sweated our way back home, dodging the ubiquitous, threatening scaffolding.

Once back under the air conditioner’s spell, I made the choice not to waste time scrolling Twitter or reloading the Broadway lottery I entered (Into the Woods).

Instead, I meditated, drifting on my breath as season’s end reflections buzzed my brain.

Seasons cycle, leaves melancholy, mocha-colored dried out and dying in still unbearable temperatures.

Summer flew too fast. And couldn’t go quickly enough.

Death claimed some in our family. Illness taxed young and old and Covid’s variants threatened all.

August slipped away like a fever dream, ending with the gut-wrenching 25th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana.

September foreshadows cooler (hopefully) days ahead. Lew and I talked our dreams out loud,

aware that Rosh Hashanah approaches.

I’m not an overtly observant Jew, but respect and enjoy holiday songs and cheer. More Buddhist in temperament, so I’m a Jewdhist

Meanwhile, the weekend was not lost.

Our matinee!

It turned out to be a hoot, (if you’re a Borscht Belt aficionado) with 91-year-old Hal Linden!

He’s starring off-Broadway with fellow old-timer Bernie Kopell, 89.

The esteemed thespians knew the play cold and every groaner pun was appreciated.

These cronies never stopped yakking and a great time was had by all.

Oh, the name of the play?

Two Jews Talking.

We blew a tranquil outing to Planting Fields Arboretum, but we ended the season with a hearty laugh.

And the reassuring knowledge

that Hal and Bernie are still alive and well!

I’m squeezing the last sweaty days out of August.

September can’t ring in fast enough.


Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including

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