Northeast Times

Trying to survive the sizzling days of summer

Ah, sum­mer, glor­i­ous sum­mer. It’s all frol­ic and fun — and, of course, ro­mance. Maybe at your house. Here’s how it looks at ours.

My guy ar­rives home drip­ping with per­spir­a­tion. I greet him with a feeble wave — all I can muster. We both sigh. The air is heavy. Damp. Suf­foc­at­ing.

“I have it on high-fan,” is the only com­ment I make, and we both know that the “it” in ques­tion is the air con­di­tion­er. It is, alas, our total fo­cus, our sac­red shrine. Its con­stant hum is the soundtrack of our ver­sion of sum­mer love. 

Yet the house still feels like a swamp. It’s as if we’ve been liv­ing on the set of that Humphrey Bog­art clas­sic The Afric­an Queen, but without the glor­i­ous sense of ad­ven­ture. 

So yes, things have been sizz­ling. And as you’ve no doubt picked up, I don’t mean in the ro­mantic sense. I hate hot weath­er. Al­ways have. Al­ways will. 

Heat makes me cranky, then down­right nasty. So I talk about it a lot.

“Have you ever seen such hu­mid­ity?” I’ll ask total strangers in park­ing lots as I move with meas­ured, min­cing steps. Any­thing more en­er­get­ic is too tax­ing. 

I in­stantly bond with those who re­spond with the same in­tens­ity I feel. I tor­ture my­self by listen­ing to the met­eor­o­lo­gists who glee­fully re­port not just the tem­per­at­ure, but ex­actly how hot it feels on our skin. You can even check it hour by hour on web­sites. 

Dur­ing the most dread­ful days of clammy heat, I find my­self avoid­ing the out­doors en­tirely, and scam­per­ing from one air-con­di­tioned place to the next. Well, maybe not ex­actly scam­per­ing. More like care­fully pla­cing one foot in front of the oth­er to avoid any need­less ex­er­tion. 

Cook­ing? Not on your life.

In re­cent weeks, we have sur­vived on meals like tuna on stale ba­gels, cot­tage cheese sand­wiches and, on one mem­or­able night, peaches and cook­ies. 

When it’s been too hot to read, too hot to talk and def­in­itely too hot to ex­er­cise, our battles have been waged around the liv­ing room ther­mo­stat. Our hands meet as I sidle over to it at the crack of dawn on these blis­ter­ing days, and plunge the dial down to the low­est tem­per­at­ure it will re­gister. My reas­on­able hus­band gently slides it up a notch or two. 

And the wars be­gin.

It does dis­turb me that two pre­sum­ably en­lightened people, liv­ing in a troubled world, would de­vote quite so much time and en­ergy to pre­cisely how low is too low to set the ther­mo­stat.

Of course, I auto­mat­ic­ally re­sent people who had the wis­dom — and in­cred­ible luck — to be far away. I re­fuse to listen to their tales of need­ing sweat­ers at night on Cape Cod, or shiv­er­ing in Ore­gon. 

And the next per­son who tells me that down at the shore, it was so breezy that the kids couldn’t brave the ocean —well, nev­er mind what I’d like to say.

There are, of course, solu­tions to all this. One is just to shut up and ig­nore it. Not my style. An­oth­er is to do all those things the ex­perts sug­gest: stay in­doors, drink lots of wa­ter, avoid ex­er­tion, eat lightly. But be­ing sens­ible is bor­ing.

And there’s my way: con­stant lament­ing, com­plain­ing, whin­ing, check­ing pre­cisely how high the tem­per­at­ure will soar and then talk­ing end­lessly about it.

But I keep re­mind­ing my­self that in the not-too-dis­tant fu­ture, the hot flash of sum­mer will be over. And then a dif­fer­ent, time-honored lit­any can be heard at our house. It goes something like this:

“Boy, it’s cold! It’s freez­ing! Don’t touch that ther­mo­stat. Of course I want it set that high…”

And the grand fi­nale?

“Can’t wait for sum­mer.”

You can reach at pinegander@aol.com.

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