Columns » Bob Lancaster

Hot as a $2 cookstove



You can't beat this kind of heat. You can only endure it, if you have to be out in it, which a lot of people do, and I'm not counting those who make the short warm passage from air-conditioned house to air-conditioned car and then on to air-conditioned workplace.

Counting them would be disrespectful of our ancestors, both slave and Snopes, who gave long old day after long old day to stoop labor in the shadeless dust of cottonfields that seemed to run on forever. So I've read. So I've been told.

They were the ones, each stink-dogged by his own little pea-green cloud before the advent of anti-perspirant, who had the right to bitch about summer heat. And those who baled hay in it. Or tarred roads and roofs with hot pitch the livelong day. Or stoked sawmill furnaces. Or boiled wash in yard cauldrons, then hung it to dry in the hot sun, then fotched it on into the hot house to iron with a hot iron.

And it would behoove those of us who haven't been there not to whine as though it were otherwise. And not to gather up wimpy coping tips like they were something other than lame filler mots.

Nonetheless, some typically weenie 21st Century thoughts on the matter.

Holiday blatherskite is bound to add to the heat index.

Whiskey's risky but don't fear beer.

Don't fry your morning eggs on the sidewalk just because you can. It's not proving anything. And it's not making anybody feel any better about the situation.

Check in on the proximate shut-ins whose rigor might already have mortised as they debated the relative affordability of plugging in the fan for a few minutes or last-suppering on the only can of Alpo left in the pantry.

Don't deblubber in a sweat lodge or longsuffer blistering cups or pursue any other method of dehydration on the theory that it would be cooler turning yourself into jerky. This can be an appealing notion — as when you consider how comfortably mummification seems to have brought the pharaonic husks through the  burning sands for 5,000 years now — but it is wrong-headed. Those mummies weren't merely unvexed; they were dead. You'd have to be not only dead but way dead to lie unperturbed with scarab beetles running parody gondola tours through your dried-up ear canals.

Beware of spontaneous combustion of your person. There are famous cases, first thought to involve arson, in which human beings, sitting in large stuffed chairs in sultry parlors in the hot summertime have literally melted into puddles of goo, which ignited, and were consumed, sometimes along with the chair and sometimes not, and sometimes the parlor, and sometimes the entire domicile. And no one knows the how or the why of it — the science of it. We know that people freeze because they get too cold; but we don't know that they melt and burn because they get too hot. It might just be something they ate. Or a flare-up of old unresolved road rage. An infernal mystery.

It's not the best of times to smith horseshoes or clean the attic but it's a swell time to spelunk if your cavern complex goes all the way down into the unvarying limestone cool. Also, if there's a meat locker nearby, this isn't a bad time for a leisurely extended family or VBS class visit. Take along a sleeve of saltines and a honed Neolithic hide-scraper and you can shave off some deli slices of tartare for your brood to snack on.

Talk to the parson and the music minister about getting up a more weather-sensitive hymn selection program. For instance, see if they'd substitute "There Shall Be Showers of Blessing" for "Bringing in the Sheaves." I know that "In the Cool Cool Cool of the Evening" isn't a hymn, but they might be agreeable just this once to interpreting it as one.

Whatever the question is, an igloo is not the answer. Nor is the answer to keep your hairpiece in the deep freeze between donnings.

Don't be strumming on the old banjo outdoors without sunscreen and a boater.

In vitro fertilization can save on nooner over-exertion.

You might persuade Dick Morris to suck your podological digits, and if he'll blow on them afterward (being a blowhard is his strong suit), you might get a pleasant cooling sensation, but you should seek medical assistance if a consequence of the experience is a piggy-that-went-to-market tumescence that lasts more than four hours.

Sharia law kicks in when the mercury goes above 105 degrees F. and you might as well get used to it. Raise a stink about it and they'll chop off one of your hands. Or so the tea-party honcho was saying.

Urinating on flora sapped and sere won't help it any.

Of course there's a simple remedy for this kind of weather-related existential damage. That remedy isn't 100 per cent effective against depressing developments but it usually provides some much appreciated uplift. You can't hoke it up from a rainmaker's smokepot, or pray it up. It's not a remedy you can buy, no matter how fat your Superpac. You know what it is if you'll think back a couple of years.

More cowbell.

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