[To be sung to the obvious tune]
I have a sad story to tell you
It might upset you a bit
Last night I walked on the sidewalk
And it was hot.
Not exactly poetry, but it has a certain je ne sais quoi to it. The pathos encapsulated by the last line brings a tear to the ocular orifices every time I sing it. Doubtless you are welling up, too.
And that’s because it’s obvious this song of woe is a tale spun from reality. It actually happened to me! Yes. Last night I did walk out onto the sidewalk…and it was hot! Heat—raw heat—covered me instantly, soaking me, drenching me in waves of unwanted electromagnetic radiation. Layers of humidity, one upon the other, attached themselves to my clothing and my skin, making me feel as slimy as a Chicago alderman.
This went on block after block. The heat did not abate; no, not even in the shade. If anything, it grew hotter. And when I finally reached the bodega in which lay the amber, life-giving well-hopped fluid which my body so desperately craved, I realized to my horror that the air in the place was not conditioned! Avert your eyes if you don’t like graphic descriptions of bodily functions—but this final serving of blistering heat actually caused me to sweat!
I tell you the truth: I have never before suffered such minor inconveniences as this.
I should have listened to the radio, to the television, to the newspaper, to the media in every form which had dispatched scores of reporters to the far corners of the city, where to a man each of them reported that it was hot. These dedicated newsmen warned me to stay inside. They cautioned me to stay where the air was electrically cooled. They told me that sure death awaited me if I dared venture forth without saturating my bodily fluids.
Not satisfied with telling me the temperature, the journalists invented something called a “heat index.” I discovered (via statistical calculation) that this was actual temperature multiplied by three. The heat index isn’t therefore the temperature, but is a number to show what the temperature would be were it hotter than it is. It is a kind of maybe temperature, a temperature that isn’t, an index which can be adjusted up or down according to the importance the journalist gives the story.
When I went out onto the street, I naturally expected to see piles of bodies which had succumbed to the heat. But there were none. This was curious. Perhaps those that were to die had died already; their corpses efficiently removed by the Soylent Corporation. Still, I began to question if there was an element of exaggeration in the repeated dire warnings.
As I walked I recalled how I had lived for three years in San Antonio, Texas (average August high of 96 with liquid skies), and again in Okinawa, Japan (a degree or two cooler, but always wetter), and never had air conditioning. As far as I could ascertain, I had not died from this lack. I also remembered that in all the cars I ever owned, there was no air conditioning. Again, this did not kill me.
There may have been lasting damage, however, because I was for years after this an atheist (I have since recovered). Anyway—full disclosure—there was an air conditioning unit in the apartment in San Antonio, but the (so-labeled by Danny Stiles) blonde bombshell with whom I shared the rent would not allow me to turn it on because she was deathly afraid of contracting Legionnaires disease, which she was sure lurked in the recesses of the machine. Yes.
Who knows where the truth lies. But if there’s anything to this global warming we hear about, it’s likely to stay summer until at least September. Worse, sophisticated computer models say the whole cycle could repeat next year.
It’s the glorious 4th. Happy Birthday, America! Be careful, it’s Summer out there and hot. And since it’s never been Summer and hot before, heed the warnings of your elected and unelected leaders and stay away from any activity in which you might find enjoyment.