Guest opinion: Feeling the heat
It’s hot outside and I’m offended. Yes, I know being offended is completely irrational, but why should I be any different from anyone else with a complaint and a computer?
I do not cope with heat well. Some do — these are the people who run around with beautiful tans and volleyballs. They might sometimes give lip service to people like me and agree that it’s a hot day, but you can tell they don’t really mean it, because the next thing they say is how much fun it would be to go out and play frisbee or take a bike ride or something. No, this would NOT be fun. In summer, activities that involve moving are the opposite of fun. There is a reason why hell is traditionally described as hot.
Much against my better judgement, I was once drafted into taking a group of girls on a summer hike. “It’ll be fun!” one of the other camp counselors said. “You’ll love the lake! It’s gorgeous.” This was a low blow. She knew that I suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) and the lake probably would be pretty. I should have known better. She was both suntanned and perky — major red flags. The only reason I’m still here today is because this happened in Iowa where the word “hike” is defined as “taking a stroll on flat ground.” At the end of the hike, the girls scampered happily into the mess tent for dinner. I dragged my sorry carcass into the counselor’s tent, collapsed on the bed, and spent the next few hours listening to the water sizzle as I poured it over my face. Later, I enjoyed a hearty supper of a single grape. It was plenty.
I’ve known for a long time that if I ever want to get serious about losing weight, all I’d have to do is find an outside summer job. Heat exhaustion does wonders for suppressing the appetite. It will also kill me, but I wouldn’t care. It’s too hot to care.
The universe, having the sense of humor that it does, has made sure that I’ve experienced the full spectrum of heat by sending me to live in both Tucson, Arizona, AND Houston, Texas, for several years each. Living in Tucson is like living directly in front of an open blast furnace. It is incomprehensibly hot. Every day for months and months and months the indecently cheerful weather person on TV says, “We passed the century mark here in the Old Pueblo!” You can’t even take a swim to cool off, because the pool is the same temperature as the outside.
But I’ll take being fried alive in Arizona over being slowly suffocated in Houston any day.
Houston heat is like living in a hot sponge. And, since our county won “most polluted county in America” during our time there, it was like living in a very old, gross sponge in the bottom of the sink. The library where I worked had a small public parking lot with a Subway sandwich shop on the other side.
“Let’s grab a sandwich,” my boss said. “I want to run some ideas past you.”
“Sure!” I said. Chatting happily, we got our purses.
“I think we have enough money to expand our after-school …” She opened the door. “… craaaaft blaaaaah, blaaaaaa … you think?” But it was too late. I had left the conversation, melting like the Wicked Witch of the West into a puddle of goo.
But I’m going to make this weather pay. When I die, if there is any doubt in St. Peter’s mind as to whether I should be admitted through those pearly gates, I’m going to petition for those years and this summer to count as time served in the other place. They’ll have to take me. But be warned, a few more summers like this one and I’ll need to go on a crime spree just to be sure I get my suffering’s worth.
Anneli Byrd is an academic adviser in Weber State University’s Student Success Center.