Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Maureen's back. It's hot here today. "How hot is it?" (Johnny Carson asks from Comedy Heaven.)I remember upstate New York summer days. If there's any one word that defines a summer there, it's "humid." Thanks ever so much, Lakes Erie and Ontario. I remember dripping with sweat, sticking to the plastic chairs at our kitchen table, trying to sleep with a window fan grinding about 3 inches from my head. I remember wearing a wool uniform, going to a school with neither air conditioning nor fans. I remember the nuns wearing black head to toe, their freely perspiring faces encased in white plastic. No wonder they were cranky. I remember living in Rochester during a heat wave that killed hundreds across the country. Thanks to the Kodak plant, my neighborhood smelled like a darkroom. I'd go to my favorite bar until about 1 in the morning, there for the air conditioning and companionship with my fellow sufferers more than for the drinking. The next morning, I'd fall asleep at my desk in the air-conditioned office. But I couldn't sleep in my own bed.I remember driving through East St. Louis on a steamy, smoggy day. I couldn't catch my breath as though most of the oxygen had been boiled out of the air.I remember Fenway Park in June, Wrigley Field in July, Ralph Wilson Stadium in August.I remember waiting for a bus with my friend Maggie in Perth on a day that put the lie to dry heat being more comfortable. I felt as though an alien were pointing a giant magnifying glass straight at us. I thought I might spontaneously combust, leaving Maggie with a pile of ash to ship back to America.I remember disembarking from a plane in Queensland, at a small airport where you walked down a movable set of steps directly to the tarmac. The heat there was tropical, the air so laden with moisture that it literally staggered me before I could get indoors.I remember flying home from London where they were having the coldest, rainiest June since the year 16something and where I had contracted the worst sinus infection of my life. As the plane descended, the pilot announced, "Welcome to Boston's Logan International Airport, where the temperature is 36 degrees...Celsius." (That's metric for "I'm gonna die.")How hot is it now? It's parochial school in a wool uniform hot. I'm living on Diet Coke and frozen fruit. My bull terrier didn't even finish her breakfast. The cats have been picking fights with each other. I had to spend two hours in the Shrine of Civilization (Rockport Library) yesterday to cool down enough to get rid of nausea. And the unkindest cut of all - it's too hot to crochet.