Stop the Presses: It’s July, and It’s Kinda Hot

by Kerry Dougherty

As I was walking my dog yesterday morning a neighbor who was climbing into his car greeted me with this weather warning:

“It’s going to be 96 today!”

Yep, it’s hot around here. Humid, too.

We’re withering in the heat. Sizzling in the sun.

Smothering in the humidity.

How bad is it? Well, when I ventured outside last Friday when the mercury was climbing into the mid-90s I had to wipe the fog off my Ray-Bans.

Next, I started my car and it took almost a full minute for the AC to kick in. I thought I was going to pass out.

As I drove around town I could see heat waves shimmering off the pavement. The sight made me so thirsty that I stopped at a 7-Eleven only to find a line by the Slurpee machine.

How much more must we suffer?

Honestly. What is it about us and the weather? Let the mercury stray a few degrees outside the normal range and we become mildly deranged.

Yes, we’re in the middle of a mini heat wave.

But look at the calendar. It’s July. The hottest month of the year. A heat wave in February would be news. This blast of 90-something air that won’t break until Sunday when temperatures will dip to 87? Meh.

Besides, most of us only experience the Honduran temperatures in brief blasts as we dash from our air-conditioned homes to our air-conditioned cars to our air-conditioned workplaces.

Wait a minute. Are you a roofer? A member of a road crew? A migrant worker? A person living in an inner-city apartment with nothing but an oscillating fan on a table?

Go ahead and gripe. You’re hot. Perhaps dangerously so.

But the rest of us? We’re weather wimps. We spend so much time in climate-controlled environments that we get dizzy if we venture into nature and find the temperature outside our comfort zone.

Shoot, even our pets are soft.

Take my Welsh Terrier, for instance. Yes, I know, his kind hail from Wales where the temperature as I write this is 59 degrees. Still, he sports the equivalent of canine crew cut. And he lives in air-conditioned comfort with a constant supply of cool water. For obvious reasons he must venture outside several times a day.

He doesn’t like the heat. Yesterday afternoon I walked the recalcitrant mutt exactly three blocks. We stuck to the shade. Yet he stopped twice and refused to walk. By the time I coaxed him home, his pink tongue was dragging on the pavement and he threw himself against the door trying to get back into the AC.

Almost as embarrassing as our pampered pets are the hysterical news reports — in print and on TV, courtesy of the health department — that instruct the ignorant masses on how to survive hot temperatures.

This happens with every weather event. In winter, we’re sternly reminded to dress in layers. Wear a hat. And not to sit too close to the family fireplace.

In summer, they tell us to dress in light, loose clothing, avoid the sun from 10 to 4 and drink plenty of fluids. Oh, and wear a hat.

Perhaps there are legions of locals prepared to don dark wool frocks and sit hatless in the noonday sun gnawing dry crackers unless someone on TV tells them they’re doing it all wrong.

But I doubt it.

Fact is, we shouldn’t complain.

Most Americans now have air conditioning. According to the Energy Information Association, 87% percent of American homes have cooling systems. Of those, 75% have central air. These researchers note that air conditioners are more common these days than dining rooms or garages.

When you consider that parts of the country barely need any cooling at all, that means almost all of us in Southern latitudes are living in air conditioned comfort.

If you know people without AC, invite them to share your cool air till the hot weather passes.

And it will in a couple of months.

But next on the horizon will be a hurricane.

And the meteorological hysteria will start all over again.

Buy plywood! Fill your tubs with water! Run for your lives!

This column is republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.