Monday, January 31, 2011

The "You Don't Know Hot" Conundrum

The South is an awesome place to live, but its weather is not for sissies. 

Granted, any place you live has its perils and I guess it all boils down to the circumstances a person can tolerate.  The North is frozen solid much of the time with the promise of only a day or two of sunshine and I have even heard the term "heat wave" used in connection with temperatures at fifty or sixty degrees.  California can only handle sunshine and seventy degrees--one drop of water and the whole state will slide into the Pacific Ocean.  The tropics harbor the threat of malaria, but I still think I would be willing to tough it out in Aruba for the Greater Good.   

I'm not saying that other areas of the world don't know about hot.  One hundred eleven degrees in Las Vegas isn't fun.  I know because I've been there in July and--yes--I am crazy.  The second a person steps out into the weather, the air hits you like you opened an oven on the broil setting.  It singes your nose hairs. 

Once I went to visit my Aunt and Uncle in Texas during what was purportedly a heat wave.  Everyone was freaking out and cancelling outdoor activities and I vividly recall standing outside in the in the full brunt of the sunshine wondering what n the hell was wrong with Texans.  I could have played a game of tennis and not even broken a sweat--

--and then it hit me--

Humidity.  During Southern summers, there's absolutely no point in drying yourself off after a shower, getting out of a pool or emerging from the ocean because, in the very next millisecond, you will be sopping wet regardless of what you do.  As one of my grandmothers would say:  You could cut the air with a knife and/or it's as think as pea soup.  Of course, I've never tried pea soup, but I can tell you that the air is as thick as Brunswick Stew. 

If I go to hell when I die, there is a very good chance that I will spend eternity in a District Courtroom in the middle of the summer.  I just love (sarcasmsarcasmsarcasm) trooping down to court on bright and shiny summer mornings.  For starters, who exactly is going feel reassured if their attorney is sweating like a pig?  To tell the truth,  I could hitch a ride, but the humidity is so powerful that I would still break a sweat in the short walk from the car through the door of the courthouse.

The courthouse is packed with...well, I won't go so far as to say "the unwashed masses," but they are funky smelling masses nonetheless.  Ah yes, the days when the courtrooms are filled to capacity, the air conditioner is wheezing to keep up and the poor polyester and Kevlar clad bailiffs would very understandably rather launch a pepper spray assault than tell one more soul to get back behind the bar.  The clerks are wilting in their seats and the ADA's are fit to kill as a seemingly endless line of defense attorneys wait their turn to argue almost identical "special circumstances" for each and every client.  I wouldn't even blame the judge if a pair of Duckhead shorts were worn under the cloying black robe--I know that I would do it in a heartbeat if I had the chance. 

I've employed the phrase before, but the atmosphere is really only a crate of live chickens and a mule away from a bus terminal in New Dehli.

What I really love is when folks come to out part of the world talking the big talk.  When I was in high school, I spent a very unpleasant couple of weeks at the Duke University Tennis Camp.  I didn't relish being on enemy territory, but I really really didn't love the fact that the dorms we were assigned to didn't have air conditioning in the middle of July.

On the day of registration, we met a girl named Emily.  Emily was from New Mexico.  A group of us were commiserating over the lack of air conditioning and how that particular little tidbit of information was withheld from us when we signed up.  Emily actually snorted at us and did the patented, "You don't know hot!  I live in the desert where it's 115 in the shade!  This is nothing!"

We all just kind smiled and nodded in an attempt to humor the crazy person.

After a long, sweltering night without even a breeze to give us occasional relief, we started our long day at breakfast where Emily declared that she was too hot to eat.  After the Frosted Flakes, we reported to the tennis courts where we were expected to warm up (ha) with a thirty minute run.  We started off and I did a "power trot" because of my steadfast aversion to running.  (If you ever see me running, that means that there is an axe murderer behind me and you would do well to get on down the road yourself.)

About halfway through, I came upon Emily doubled over at the side of the path.  I stopped to make sure that I didn't have to Rescue 911 her or anything.  She was sopping wet and she was having trouble getting the words out through panting, but I was able to catch "crazy," "hell on earth" and "you people" and that was more than enough to get the general idea. 

Ever the gracious hostess, I accompanied her back to her dorm room where she packed and I called her a cab.  I told her that I would let the coaches know and she smiled and hugged me (still sweaty!  gross!!) as her yellow chariot whisked her to the RDU Days Inn where she caught a flight back to "chilly" New Mexico the next morning. 

Yes, we'll chalk the tale of dear Emily as one more for the annals of "They Ain't From Around Here."

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