When it comes to extreme heat, I’m a zero-tolerance kind of gal, meaning my ability to endure hot weather is zip… zilch… diddley-squat ... nada.
Heat advisory issued for our area? That’s my signal to strip down to skivvies and stick not even a toe outside, unless it’s to sprint to my air-conditioned car and dash into the grocery store for a case of popsicles and an extra bag of ice.
This week, my A/C was cranked up so high, a thick layer of condensation covered the windows, providing welcome privacy while I sat in my underwear under dueling ceiling fans.
When the dog days of summer arrive, I make like a dog and “stay.”
I don’t do picnics. I don’t do barbecues. I don’t do sunset hikes. I don’t do concerts in the park. I don’t do baseball games. I don’t do block parties. I don’t do sidewalk sales. (At least, for no more than 15 minutes before 8:30 a.m. That’s when I start to break a sweat.)
I don’t play golf. I don’t play tennis. I sure as heck don’t do Dog Days (but colossal kudos to all of you who do.) I exercise, yes, but in the air-conditioned confines of a gym with no less than four fans, my minimum requisite. And still, I sweat like George Foreman after a 12-round fight, or a particularly grueling infomercial for one of his eponymous grills.
I don’t mow. I don’t do dishes. I don’t do laundry. I don’t walk the dog. I don’t pinch back my basil plants. I don’t clean house. And I certainly don’t cook. Not that I could with a kitchen that looks like the ruins of Pompeii.
The only things I do when it gets this hot are the Weather Channel and frozen margaritas.
In my youth — and, by that, I mean until just a few years ago — I felt compelled to give the heat the old college try. “This is Kansas,” I’d say to myself. “People are hardy. We get out and do things. We’re used to the heat.”
So, I’d go out and, you know, try to do things. It would never end well.
At a late afternoon patio party in July 2006, I was so overcome, I escaped to my car — not even stopping to thank the hostess — leaving my husband to fend for himself and catch a ride home.
Later that night, while sprawled on the sofa in my Jockeys, I said to him, “I’ll send her a thank-you note. Besides, there were so many people there, no one noticed I slipped out.”
“Nah,” he replied. “Except for that full-body sweat stain you left behind on the chaise.”
These days, I don’t even go there. That’s a benefit of age. You don’t need an excuse for the things you don’t want to do. You just tell the truth and let the chips fall.
For example, let’s say friends invite us to join them for a day on their boat. I don’t bother with lame, fabricated excuses like, “I’m sorry, but I’m having our carpets stretched that day,” or “Gee, I’d like to, but that’s the dog’s birthday. Big doin’s, family coming in ...”
Instead, the exchange goes something like this:
Them: Come out on the boat tomorrow. We can cruise all day and have a picnic on the water!
Me: Sounds like fun. What’s the temperature and relative humidity going to be?
Them: Weather guy says around 94 and 60 percent.
Me: I’m sorry, but I don’t do heat indices over 85. Next time?
See? It’s a very simple mantra: Can’t stand the heat? Get out of the speedboat.
My aversion to hotness now fully revealed, I am proud to say I did suffer the elements this week to bring you today’s feature story on the hottest jobs in town and the people who perform them so admirably.
I ventured into the field and interviewed five sweaty men (not a wholly tragic assignment) and felt their pain — the sun beating down on my neck, waves of heat from 300-degree asphalt or a 400-degree barbecue smoker smothering my face.
As I trudged to my car after each encounter — my shirt stuck to my back, perspiration dripping from my brow — I felt humbled, weak and spoiled.
Gentlemen, I take my hat off to you. And my clothes.
(Oh, stop! You know what I mean. It’s supposed to get up to 96 today.)
— Cathy Hamilton is a 54-year-old empty nester, wife, mother and author. She can be reached at 832-6319.