Writing a newspaper column is a sweaty, grinding, horrible way to make a living, much worse than coal mining or being eternally chained to a rock while a vulture pecks at your exposed liver, and it’s been much too hot the last fortnight to do any actual work on one of the damnable things. So I’m exerting myself today only to the extent of passing along some public-service tips from the experts on coping with this preposterous heat.
These tips are from the Extension Service, the Centers for Disease Control, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Farmers Almanac, Andy Pearson and Anne Jansen of KTHV News, a slow-witted guy who lives just down the street here, and/or one or more of Gov. Huckabee’s books of uplift which all told are a rich vein of useful pious hypocrisy. I’d like to take credit for this good advice from different sources but already 60 percent of American newspaper columnists have been outed as plagiarists — and 90 percent of our historians! — and that’s not a crew I hanker to be thrown in with.
All right, here’s Tip No. 1: Don’t bother looking in on old people when the bulb is about to pop. Extreme heat helps old people to sweat away systemic impurities and toxic residues that have accumulated over a lifetime. They need the purification, even if they’re given to whining about it. The Indian people were keenly aware of this, and it was a gesture of respect that they gave their oldtimers extra time in the sweat lodges. Sometimes they left them there while the main body of the tribe followed the buffalo off beyond the horizon, never to return. It’s true that prolonged exposure can leave a senior prostrate and dehydrated, but let’s face it, they tend to be a whole lot on the leathery, wheezy side anyhow, and there’s never been a single documented case of one of them literally drying up and blowing away during a heat wave. Not one.
Tip No. 2: If you’re absolutely married to this folly of regular exercise, do it during the hottest part of the day. Heavy lifting on the weight bench in the blazing sunshine is the best way to a boss tan. Jog between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. There are some fitness nutcases who are also usually early-riser nutcases who’ll advise you to do your jogging in the dewy cool of the early morn, the way President Bush does it. But think about that. If he does it, how good an idea can it be? Here’s the science that begs to differ: Those dewdrops can bond chemically with droplets of sweat to cause a noxious vapor which, if inhaled, can cause might near as much pulmonary damage as second-hand tobacco smoke. A person who has inhaled that vapor will show up on a field sobriety test as above the limit, even if he or she is a dropdead teetotaler. There are even more urgent reasons — they have to do with prime time and happy hour — not to save your jogging for the cool cool cool of the evening. And as for nighttime jogging, let’s just remember that no werewolf ever got after a jogger out in the midday sun.
Tip No. 3: Pop those blisters. If you get blistered from sunburn or from some other cause such as passing out in the tavern parking lot and lying there in the hot tar until you wake up hung over the following afternoon, you should know that the proper treatment is to remove each and every bubble of skin with an X-Acto knife, pat the resulting raw subdermal circle completely dry, bathe it with an astringent such as witch hazel or vinegar, dry again and then dust it heavily with talcum powder. Skin discoloration during the healing process might leave you with some rather comical blotch patterns, like abstract tattoos, but you won’t have the scarring you’d have otherwise that frightens children and repels members of the opposite sex.
Tip No. 4. Wear dark clothing. Black or dark blue or dark green clothing absorbs heat and channels it in the modern weaves to your extremities, the head and ears particularly, where it can be safely radiated back into the ionosphere. Light-colored garments, on the other hand, reflect the heat and light, nearly always with harmful consequences. The reflections can set off metal detectors in airports, for example. They can burn little bitty holes in the ozone layer that protects ourselves and our posterity. They can set off Homeland Security sensors with the end result that President Bush and Vice President Cheney might start eavesdropping on your personal telephone calls and leaking transcripts of the embarrassing ones to the likes of Fox News, Robert Novak, and goon squads such as former Congressman Tommy Robinson’s.
Tip No. 5: Don’t use sunblock or sunscreen or what used to be called suntan lotion. Like the light-colored clothing, this stuff reflects rays of sunshine which then harm other people or the environment. It also prevents ultraviolet light, the most effective antibiotic, from penetrating your skin and killing disease germs, mutant genes, stem cells, and other nasty animalcules such as those that give you the trots. Don’t use sunglasses, or shades, either, for similar reasons, and don’t wear a hat.