The Mercury’s Looking Menacing

And so it begins: the season of having to take a change of clothes with you on your way to work, since the twenty-or-so minute walk there, when accompanied by anything above 60 degrees, results in your blowing into the building a sweaty and unpresentable mess. Sure, we’re just arriving at the end of a mere two-day spike of unseasonably warm temperatures– but I don’t like it, not one bit.

How can you do anything productive and/or creative in the heat? Even though I originally hail from a punishingly hot and humid climate, it was only when living in North Carolina a few years ago that I realized one reason why everything functions more slowly in the South is the fact that, if you try to move at anything like a normal pace (or faster), you’ll just drop down and die. While walking the few short blocks one summer from my place to a coffee shop, it was soon apparent that everything was moving in a weirdly viscous manner, and I felt as if I’d turned into a ball of sluggish magma. Had I tried to read outside, the pages would have melted in the rain of sweat falling upon them, only shortly after the paper that had turned blazingly white had seared my eyeballs to useless shreds, even with the dark glasses worn to protect them. And forget about writing; although the brain isn’t directly exposed to sunlight, all mine could think about in those Amazonian summers was either firing the fewest neurons possible, in the hopes of bringing down total body temperature to an even minute degree– or, conversely, figuring out a way not to freeze to death when walking inside an absurdly air-conditioned building. How did Faulkner– or O’Connor or anyone forced to put up with such climate-based brutality (minus the summer shivers, I’m guessing for those whose lives ended before a/c became widespread)– manage to get anything done at all, much less a wide array of brilliance? Something to investigate: whether they did all their writing in the winter months, and went into hibernation mode at other times…

I’d rather not think about it though, especially since I’ve escaped such living conditions; even today’s just-above-comfortable temperatures are nothing compared to the deserts and rainforests I put up with for far too much of my life. I’ll wait for this afternoon’s promised thunderstorms, then, and look forward to the balm of what might be called moderation– or maybe, “The Story of the Three Bears” (in its most harmless Goldilocks version) principle of “just right.”



    • Special K

      Thanks! Among other things, my brain power dips precipitously when the heat-humidity combination results in Roseanne Rosannadanna hair. Maybe all the energy is spent in creating frizziness?


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