It certainly defies the meteorological statistical data ("climate change", perhaps?) and it most definitely flies in the face of the image of the Maine climate as perceived by some people "from away" (yes, @Deb, I'm looking at you) but today, September 26, 2011, I sat on my pool deck, naked as a jaybird and basked in the glory of an early Fall day on the shores of Casco Bay. Life does not get any better than that. (Did I mention that there was beer?)
It was not entirely an idle pursuit - since I am in the process of closing the pool for the season I spent a few minutes putting away some of the pool furniture and accessories, including the colorful air mattress that been floating in the pool all summer. It was during this process that I discovered something that I think says a lot about our culture: the consumer warning printed in multiple languages on the bottom of the mattress. (What can I say? I had finished the crossword puzzle and the cryptoquote, and I was bored.)
The warning is printed in several languages, including some that I don't even recognize, but interestingly there are three English-language versions. The Australian warning is the most terse and seems perfectly adequate to me: "WARNING: USE ONLY UNDER COMPETENT SUPERVISION. What more do you need to say?
The British apparently require a bit more detail: WARNING: USE ONLY UNDER COMPETENT SUPERVISION. THERE ARE RISKS USING THIS PRODUCT AS A WATER CRAFT. PAY ATTENTION TO WINDS AND CURRENTS. NO PROTECTION AGAINST DROWNING! SWIMMERS ONLY! From my limited abilities in French, Spanish and German I think those warnings translate roughly the same as the British - maybe it's an EU thing.
The US version of the warning is more dire yet: WARNING (Preceded by a triangle with an exclamation point inside, for the illiterate swimmer, I guess): THIS IS NOT A LIFE SAVING DEVICE. DO NOT LEAVE CHILD UNATTENDED WHILE DEVICE IS IN USE. THIS IS NOT A TOY. NEVER ALLOW DIVING INTO THIS PRODUCT. NEVER LEAVE IN OR NEAR THE WATER WHEN NOT IN USE. FOLLOW THESE RULES TO AVOID DROWNING, PARALYSIS OR OTHER SERIOUS INJURY.
Wow - and all this time I thought it was just something I could float on when I wanted to cool off. Who knew it could be so dangerous?
I suspect all of those warnings reflect the nature of the litigation that has been brought against manufacturers of these "devices" in the countries for which the warnings are provided. And I suspect that of all of those countries, the USA has the most highly developed "product-liability" litigation system (We're #1! We're #1!) It makes me proud to be an American.
But it was a truly spectacular day for "nakedivity" on the pool deck (did I mention that there was beer?).