“What are you looking at?” my husband asked, as I stood at the front door, staring out the window.
“We’re in an excessive heat warning,” I replied, soberly.
“A what?” (He still hasn’t purchased that hearing aid. Yes, it’s still an issue.)
“Excessive. Heat. Warning,” I sighed, already exasperated by the discussion. “Defined by the National Weather Service as an extreme heat index making it feel very hot, typically above 110 degrees Fahrenheit for three hours or more during the day for two consecutive days, or above 110 at any time. Specific criteria varies over different county warning areas.”
“You look like you’re waiting for a tornado or ice storm, or something,” he observed.
“This is going to be a lot worse than a tornado or ice storm,” I snapped, wiping my brow with a bandana, for practice.
He knew I was right. Because as horrible as tornadoes and ice storms are, they don’t wreak havoc on my disposition like extreme heat can.
Not to be insensitive to the aftermath of natural disasters, but I could always find something to enjoy about storms. As a kid, on those rare occasions when the sirens would blare, I used to love taking cover in the basement with my Monkees sleeping bag and transistor radio at hand. It was thrilling and cozy at the same time. Sometimes, there would be Twinkies.
Even now, when TV meteorologists start tracking a blizzard moving into the plains, I rush eagerly to the market to stock up on comfort food, with my fellow overzealous neighbors. We delight in trading forecasts (“I heard 8 inches by midnight!” “The radio said 10-to-12!”), and those tired but true maxims (“That’s Kansas for ya. Don’t like the weather, wait a minute!”)
With triple-digit heat indices, there’s no nervous excitement. No over-reactive shopping. No bonding.
Just extreme dread and excessive bitching.
The dread sets in before I get out of bed in the morning.
“I can’t go out there,” I’ll whine. “Please, don’t make me.”
“Come on,” my spouse will say. “Take a cold shower, put your hair up. It won’t be that bad.”
“But, it WILL be that bad. It was that bad yesterday. It will be that bad today. That’s the nature of a heat wave. Excessive, relentless heat. That ‘don’t like the weather, wait a minute’ stuff? It’s just old wives’ twaddle!”
Somehow, I manage to drag myself to work. There, the complaining continues, peppered by the occasional idle threat:
“The next person who utters the words ‘Hot enough for ya?’ will be forced to sit in my 120-degree car, windows rolled up, while I’m inside the Dairy Queen dining on Flamer-Thrower burgers and Triple Chocolate Blizzards! Any questions?!?”
Not the way to make friends and influence people.
But, it’s at home — in the hot and sweaty bosom of my family — where my inner she-devil rears her ugly head:
“Don’t even think about touching me!” I’ll say, before my husband even crosses the threshold.
The man is drenched with perspiration. His shirt clings to his belly like Handi Wrap. He’s thinking about putting the moves on a cold Pale Ale, not his clammy wife.
Even a quick trip outside to collect the newspaper or harvest a bit of basil renders me despondent. A full-on outing to the grocery store? That requires a minimum of four hours post-errand convalescence.
“Would you like some iced tea, dear?” my spouse will say, careful to maintain a 10-foot distance from where I sprawl on the couch.
“Just…put it on …the table…” I’ll sputter, mopping my neck with a bath sheet. “And change the channel, would you? That Jim Cantore on the Weather Channel is starting to look like Satan. I must be hallucinating.”
I try to be nice. I really do. I avoid situations where my temper could flare uncontrollably, and I think positive thoughts of owning a summer home in Faz, Antarctica. I’m planning a “Pollyanna” marathon, starting tonight.
In the meantime, for those of you suffering, as I am, from the dog day blues, I’ve got an idea. Grab your Monkees sleeping bags and transistor radios, and join me in the basement.
With enough Twinkies, we can hold out until Labor Day.