Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: The crazy summer heat
People in Phoenix seek relief from boiling temperatures at the Wet-N-Wild Water Park. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
I thought I was looking at an enticing picture of gobs of strawberry jam ladled over a tiny sliver of pound cake. But something was off. The “jam” seemed almost violent, and the proportions were odd. Besides, who puts jam on a cake instead of frosting? None of this made sense.
I scrolled up a bit and realized I’d missed the caption: EARTH’S HOTTEST DAYS. This wasn’t jammy cake at all but a fairly terrifying heat wave graphic. Gloopy shades of crimson and, er, crimsoner, covered ABC-TV’s world weather map. Clearly, if the end of the world wasn’t exactly in sight, it was a pretty short commute (and most likely cakeless).
I immediately Googled “hottest temperatures on Earth” but I could see others had gotten to the point more quickly: “What outside temperature can humans not survive?” The answer: “Humans stop functioning optimally between 104 and 122 degrees.”
As I type this on a criminally humid day on the coast of North Carolina the temperature is just 92, which means I have 12 degrees of heat to go before I begin functioning at a sub-optimal level outdoors.
But wait! When you couple the downright acceptable 92 degrees with the current humidity of 60 percent it means it FEELS LIKE 105, which—remember—is 1degree higher than we now know is dangerous. Which is why the only safe thing to do, it seems to me, is remain indoors watching Hulu and Door Dashing until….. I wanna say…. November?
It’s even worse if you live in Phoenix like the Princess, who has suddenly “gone all Phoenician” as I call it. This means, no matter how many harrowing news stories about the deadly temps in her new hometown, my daughter never complains. None of them do.
I sent her a friendly mom-text: “I just read in “The Washington Post” that if you trip and fall on pavement in Phoenix, when you get up, your skin is still on the asphalt. STUCK TO THE ASPHALT! Did you hear me? STUCK TO THE ASPHALT!”
This was met with a weary reply: “I know. People are always asking me if it’s just so, so awful.”
Well. At least she didn’t say, “It is what it is.”
“I mean, really, it is what it is. (Arrrgh!) You just stay inside in the air conditioning.”
Hmmph. Someone’s mighty confident about the power grid.
I decided I’d call her rather than text. Young people just love that.
“I read where people in the Southwest are baking bread IN THEIR MAILBOXES! Doesn’t that worry you?”
“Oh, yeah. I think I heard that. Interesting…”
And that’s when I decided living in Phoenix is a little like belonging to a cult. You are ALL IN or, even if you’re not, you only share that with other cult members while you do communal dishes in a washtub somewhere.
“Besides,” she said cheerily…Oh nooooo, noooo, don’t say it, I thought…
“It’s a DRY heat.”
The conversion is complete. I remembered how during our June visit she didn’t even notice people were CARRYING THEIR DOGS IN THEIR ARMS everywhere. And I don’t mean silly purse dogs; I mean labs, retrievers, HUSKIES!!!!
“Ha! Phoenix sure has a lot of lazy dogs,” I said, trying to imagine Jim Bob from home wearing a hound dog around his shoulders like a danged mink stole.
“Huh? What? Oh, that,” the Princess had said. “That’s because they are protecting their paws from the hot asphalt.”
What the WHAT???
Across the parking lot, I spotted a large dog on a leash, which suddenly seemed downright abusive. But as the dog got closer, I realized he was wearing SHOES. Nice ones, too.
I’m proud of the Princess’ plucky attitude but I stand ready to retrieve her, SEAL team style, if necessary. Unless it’s too hot, that is. I’m not crazy.
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