There have been many things I've always wanted but never had. Money. Jason Bateman's hair. A French girlfriend. A neighbor who grows pot. Skill with a ninja throwing star.

I'd trade all of that, however, for a genuine summer romance. A real one -- not a regular relationship that happens to begin in summer. A sweaty blur of sex on warm-weather materials (inflatable raft rubber, grass, slip-n-slide, baseball field dirt, etc), a fling that involves crisp white wine, sun-burnt shoulders, and the weird pride that comes with getting sand your orifices.

Here's the thing, though! The type of summer romance I'm talking about is actually pretty easy to have, with a little coconut-scented elbow grease. And before you marrieds and coupled-offs think I'm once again giving you the shaft, what I'm about to propose includes you as well. If you're willing to get creative and get a little bit uninhibited, this ride has seats for you and your wedding vows.

Buckle up, kids! Let's take a trip to Hot Summer Romance Town, population: you and a someone you don't even know (even if you've been married to them for 20 years).

Step One:

If You're Single ...
Hey, how do you feel about lying? Bad? Well, deal with it, because we're in Summer Fling Town, and there are no lies here, only improvised character history. Here's the deal: When you meet somebody new, tell him you're leaving in September, and -- like a fairy-tale protagonist or a mild strain of herpes -- you'll be gone after a few months with only the vaguest of promises to return.

For a summer fling to harness its hot, fated-to-end potential, it's got to have an expiration date. The mortality of a romance is as important to ingenuity and passion as our actual mortality. It forces us to do things we wouldn't normally do because time is short -- like impromptu sex in the bushes of a Domino's parking lot late at night. The summer fling is literally rushing home from work (at times sprinting!) to meet your co-flinger so you can werewolf each other's unmentionables. It's fleeting! Fleeting is good.

So when you meet him, you're not You, office worker / middle school teacher / waiter, you're You, itinerant but beloved gardener, going from town to town, wherever the breeze may blow you.

If You're Married/Coupled ...
It's all about role-playing, gang. If you can stomach role-playing with your partner without laughing or being unable to suspend disbelief and ultimately belittling your significant other ("Oh, come on, Harold, you're not a double agent for MI-6. You're a maitre de fromage at the Cheese Hut off I-9."), it's not going to work. But, if you're the type of couple who can stay in character, a summer romance will be easy for you.

And hey, if Harold is some cheese expert and you can't seem to imagine him being a rogue astrophysicist with a love for a leather whip across his ass, then set up your "Act One" in the cheese aisle at the grocery store, and you're just a confused, low-cut-blouse-wearing lady trying to suss out which chevre would go best with your selection of wine, and -- oh, my -- who happens to come by but the dashing "Hank," a random stranger possessing an impressive amount of knowledge about goats and wine varietals.

Step Two:

If You're Single ...
Not only must you stay in character and maintain your cover story about how you've got to get back to the vocational school in Cleveland in September to continue your work teaching septuagenarians HTML or return to the International Space Station in Earth's low orbit, you want to learn as little about the other person as possible! Tell this person that you can't bear to trade intimate details because you know you have to leave. You don't want to know much about him, you just know you want to see him naked and hear him breathe a name into your ear, maybe your name, maybe somebody else's name -- the only important thing is that it's your ear.

Keep your interactions surface-level, at the point of pleasure. You eat, you drink, you screw like it's the last screw of your life. You go to movies to escape the heat, you make ceviche and fix up margaritas and go for a weekend away in the mountains/country/beach, but all of it is an exploration of pleasure, not a chance to find out more about his political affiliations or why he feels bad for Jay Leno.

If You're Married/Coupled ...
Hey, if you've made it this far and you're staying in your roles, congratulations -- you're in a really cool relationship. Now's the time where you can really start exploring all the sexual stuff you had always thought about on long business trips to Minnesota but never had the courage to broach. Hey, now that you're a Supreme Court nominee and the press has been breathing down your neck and you just need a little release, it's OK that said release is the attachment of nipple clamps and Richard Wagner played backwards on a gramophone. You've been under a lot of stress, Supreme Court Nominee!

If you're not a "naked all the time" couple, be naked all the time. If you're not a stay up until 4 a.m. drinking wine and playing with illegal fireworks, do that. If you're the kind of couple that's grossed out by using some kind of sex guide, man the f**k up and pretend to be a couple of weird old hippies for a few hours. The point is this: You're strangers again, strangers who happen to share an affinity for pinot grigio and the pivot position (look it up). It's summer. The patio is now open.

Step Three

If You're Single or Married/Coupled ...
Summer flings are all about sex.

The heat of passionate sex with a stranger that you won't be seeing soon! The best part of a summer fling is your body becomes acquainted with this person that you see and touch over and over, but the mystery remains as neither of you reveal too much of yourselves. Your hang-ups, your fears, your insecurities, your issues with your mom or sister or boss or the way they always put extra menus in the bag when they deliver your Chinese despite the fact that you specifically asked them not to, are left out of the summer-fling script. All it's about is fun, adventure and pleasure.

So go forth, Summer Flingers! Go forth and multiply (orgasms only) and remember: The second you can start finishing each other's sentences and know the end to the story he's telling, it must be fall. (Or you're just married.)

[Redacted] Guy is the resident single guy at Lemondrop and the weak link in our summer Competitive Pie Eating team. He's always like, "You guys, I'm allergic to blueberries. I'll go into anaphylactic shock," and we're like, "Shut up and chow, sissy! Are those hives? You wear that epinephrine necklace because you think it makes you look pretty?" I mean, come on.

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