Visible heat

The temps this week are supposed to be in the low 100s, which means I-don’t-know-what for the heat index. Yesterday, I was driving home from our weekly beating (aka grocery shopping), when I noticed what I’ve heard people talk about in the South: you can see the heat. There it was, a heavy, tin-can gray mist roiling over the trees.

You can see the heat in the desert of the West, too, but there it shimmies up from the earth, tinged with exhaust fumes, glimmering off the black pavement like a furious ghost. Here, it hangs above, threatening to smother.

I don’t have a stance on which is more miserable: hot, baking oven heat or humid cloaking heat. They each have their award-winning moments. If anything, I have a beef with August.

Seriously: what is your damage, August? As a dweller of the warmer U.S. climes, I encounter your bullying every year. I’m skipping right along in summer mode, admiring the lightning bugs and tree frogs, and here you come with your sucker punch in the kidney. You take the outdoors hostage, trapping us inside with our skin-cracking A/C and weird smells of feet and burned popcorn and garlic; we drag ourselves through work and errands, where listless strangers clutch their elbows and moan about you, how you stick around like an uninvited party guest who’ll end up sleeping in the bathtub, bits of vomit on your chin and collar. I don’t know how to fight you, so I just let you pummel me into sulkiness, crouched in discontent. I move in black and white.

I know how this goes: I’ll summon the energy to punch and kick you back a little, to get back to my feet (I like to think I know jujitsu). You’ll relent for a day or two, and I’ll see September in the distance, zipping by on a festive bicycle, the wind in its hair. Finally you’ll get bored and leave. I know you’ll be back, but I’ll forget about you. Until the next time you lurk around the corner with fists clenched.

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