by Pete Mazzaccaro

July has not yet released us from its hazy, humid grip, but already in store displays and newspaper circulars the first clarion calls of the return to school are visible. It’s still more than 30 days away, but Back to School is now something we’re supposed to prepare for in the form of deals on everything from notebooks and backpacks to jeans and laptops.

This is not a new phenomenon. The back-to-school sale has always been a harbinger of summer’s unavoidable demise. It’s upset school-aged children for more than a generation at least. It always seems to come at that moment when you’re starting to get used to the fun of summer vacation. It reminds you of school just as you’ve begun to enjoy yourself.

For me, a nearly 40-year-old guy with kids, back-to-school sales are a double edged sword.

On the one hand, it’s nice to see that I can get some bargains on stuff the kids are going to need when they head back to elementary school – the glue sticks, crayon boxes, pencils and sharpeners that children can tear through in a few months of use. I’m not sure how much I’m saving over regular prices, but it’s nice to see that stores are competing to get these things as inexpensive as possible.

Yet, like so many things in our culture, we’re always in a rush to the next thing. We can’t just sit around and enjoy another month at the neighborhood pool, ignoring the to-do lists of school preparation – do I really need to go through a school supply check list 45 days in advance? It’s not like the stores will run out of notebooks in September.

We do the same thing – always to my chagrin – in November. Before I can settle in and enjoy a nice Thanksgiving meal, I have to start worrying about planning my Christmas shopping. Not to mention the explosion of Christmas music. There should be a law prohibiting the broadcast or performance of Christmas music in any month other than December.

On a a scale of one to 10 for things that deserve to be complained about, this might only qualify as a three. I know. But it is just one part of a larger issue of the culture’s inability to concentrate and turn its attention on the moment at hand.

Time passes all too quickly already. Not sure why we’re always in a hurry to give it an extra push.

A last thought on George Zimmerman case

My column last week on the acquittal of George Zimmerman prompted a healthy response from readers, which you can see below.

One of the things that I continue to find remarkable is the insistence by some that race really should not have been part of the discussion – that the trial was really just one of self defense, plain and simple.

No one knows what was really going through Zimmerman’s mind that night, but I can tell you this: If you think we’d be talking about this case or that the outcome would have been the same had Martin been white, I think you live in denial.

I have heard it in Chestnut Hill when talking to people about race. I’ve read it in comments on our website. There’s a real prejudice that young black men have to work against that is still every bit real.

Sure we’ve come a long way as a culture, but that doesn’t mean we should get outraged or defensive when trying to figure the role race plays.