I was feeling terrible and didn't even know what was wrong until I looked at the calender and discovered that, lo and behold, the summer was just about over -- and I had blown the whole thing.

I had spent half a day in traffic adjudication court trying to beat a speeding ticket, but didn't. I had spent half a night wandering around Baltimore. I rode up with a friend who later ran into a better friend -- and drove back to Washington without me.

I had gone jogging and stepped in doggy do and didn't know it until my shoe rubbed against my leg.

I had stood on the corner in Southeast Washington for nearly an hour waiting for a cab. When one finally came the driver did not stop.

I had gone to a new barbershop and asked for a hair style called the "Philly Look," and walked out with a cone head.

The day I was suppose to go sailing on the Potomac it rained. That night, the boat struck a pylon and sank.

I tried to sell my car, which had exploded when a piston punctured the oil pan. The used car man gave me the telephone number of a junk dealer, who offered me $100 for scraps on a $5,000 car.

A homeless person asked me for spare change, and when I showed him that I had only a dollar bill, he pulled out a fist full of coins -- more money than I had -- and offered to make change.

On the hottest day of the summer, the air conditioner broke. I decided to go swimming and discovered that chlorine is no match for a pool filled with kids who refuse to get out before relieving themselves.

I had spent three months listening to other people tell me how much fun they had had on their vacations in Europe and Canada and Key West and Acapulco and Barbados, not to mention the Hamptons, the Vineyard and the Eastern Shore.

Everybody was having such a good time, I wanted to do something, too. But everytime I tried, something went wrong.

Like the time in June I went to the bank to inquire about a vacation loan. The man has not called me back yet. The credit union said I could get $50, which would have been enough to camp out on Roosevelt Island in the Potomac River. I should have gone for it.

Instead, I stayed in the city -- working and playing the Lotto. I played for a week straight, and lost. I tried again the next week and won $5. Thinking my luck had changed, I cashed in the whole thing for five more sets of numbers. I should have bought a Big Mac and fries.

Somewhere along the way, I had forgotten just how important a vacation was and, to be frank, I had not planned well. Of course, it was not my fault, since all of my school days -- more than 15 formative years -- had had three months of vacation built in.

Suddenly, all of this changed. Instead of three months, we're talking three weeks -- to be taken at a time mutually convenient and beneficial to oneself and one's employer. (One does not want to take off on vacation only to return and find someone else in one's job, does one?)

During those school days, everything was all plotted out -- summer was for swimming holes, Little League baseball and petty vandalism. It cost nothing.

Now the summers end seemingly as soon as they begin. I hadn't even been able to get my swimming trunks wet before advertisements for mink coats began appearing on television. It was still hot outside, and Syms clothing store was making me break out in a cold sweat by advertising plaid wool suits.

As colleagues continued to return from their vacations, tanned and ready to work, it became clear that I had made a mistake by sticking around. Simply put, I was burnt out from watching people come and go.

Yet, there is hope, for if I can get my act together by December, warm beaches will still be in season.