I’m writing this at 5:30 in the afternoon during the Great Heat Wave of
2011, and I have been asked, “Is it hot enough for ya?” approximately
143 times today.
And that’s not a record.
I alternate between one of two answers.
1. “No, it is not hot enough for me. I rather enjoy the heat.”
2. “You know what I like about sunshine? You don’t have to freaking shovel it.”
Only I don’t actually use the word “freaking.”
Because I spent my formative years as a gold miner, I substitute another word entirely. A bad word. A startling word. A word that, when uttered in polite workplaces, elicits a phone call to human resources. A word that proves that while you can take the boy out of the gold mine, you can’t hardly take the gold mine out of the boy.
But the end result is that nobody ever asks me if it’s hot enough for me twice.
Apparently what really bothers me isn’t the heat … it’s the stupidity.
Now I hate to go on one of those When-I-Was-Young rants but … aw, who am I kidding? I’m getting to that stage in life when there are few things I enjoy more than a spirited When-I-Was-Young rant.
That’s because things were better when I was young because I was young, damnit.
Music was better because I could dance without my right knee blowing out.
Food was better because everything I ate was sauteed in butter or deep fried in peanut oil and I had never heard the word, “cholesterol.”
And my metabolism was a nuclear reactor so I effortlessly maintained a 30-inch waistline and girls on the beach looked at my butt when I walked past because it was a great butt, not because they’re wondering what just blotted out the sun, thus making it difficult to read their book.
The beach book everybody’s reading this blistering summer is The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo which is like a walking tour inside the skull of a very sad and depressed Swedish man.
I got halfway through the novel when I decided that I could go on reading or open a vein to make it stop and that opening a vein was starting to look good, so I gave the book to somebody I didn’t like and said, “You're really going to love this! Everybody does!” and walked away feeling just a tiny bit guilty.
But not enough to take the book back.
Anyway, when I was young — sorry, you had to endure the previous rant just to get to this one — we didn’t have this thing called the “Humidex.”
Or as I like to call it, the “Whineadex.”
Back in the day, it’d get hot and people’d say, “Boy that’s hot.”
It wasn’t a big news story. We all knew it was hot. We didn’t need the TV or the newspapers to tell us.
If it got hot enough, we’d go to the movies, which were the only air-conditioned spaces in my home town. If you were a kid, 50 cents got you in and you got a couple of real cartoons, the advertisement with the dancing hot dog encouraging you to go the concession counter, a Coming Soon and a double feature, so you’d hit the 2 p.m. show and not come out till six when the heat was starting to die.
But these days it gets hot and the weathermen add the temperature to the humidity, multiply by the number of minutes it takes a modern-day, wimp, crybaby to complain about the weather after stepping outside at noon, and arrive at the Humidex.
The Humidex says, sure it’s only 30 degrees, but because the air is damp, it actually feels more like 40 degrees. So feel free to complain even more!
I reiterate: I have never had to shovel sunshine. Or humidity, for that matter.
Another reason heat waves weren’t that big a deal when I was a kid is that nobody but movie theatres had air conditioning. The notion that people would ever have air conditioning in private homes was as outlandish to me as those Star Trek communicators that they kept flicking open.
Of course, eventually, people got home air conditioning and I carry a Star Trek communicator in my pocket … it was made by Nokia.
Anyway, when it got hot, we stayed hot without respite so we got used to it and because we were used to it, I think we complained less.
Throughout the heat wave, TV reporters have been telling us, with the kind of mindless sincerity that’s a hallmark of the breed, how we can all stay alive during a heat wave.
It’s pretty complicated. You have to … wait for it … drink water and wear a hat.
That’s pretty much it.
One of the warning signs I read on the website of a major news network was that if you’re really sad about something during a heat wave — perhaps from reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo — and are sobbing, if you aren’t producing real tears, you’re probably dehydrated.
How could you miss the part where you quit sweating, threw up and passed out? I would have thought that would be a tip-off long before you got to Chapter Four of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
At any rate, the only thing that makes we want to cry during this heat wave, now that I got rid of that depressing book, is dealing with people asking me if it’s hot enough for me.
It’s almost enough to make me yearn for snow.
But not quite.
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