Monday, July 17, 2006

Hotter Than A Match Head

It's one of the hottest days of the year. I feel slow and beachy, because that's what the weather is. No one should be around this much concrete when it's hot. Sand, salt spray, and shiny lizards--not huffing BMW X5s and waddling tourists sweating in their Crocs. I need a Bahama Mama and a floaty noodle and the Gulf. Pronto.

Instead, here's a photo taken on Virginia Beach from December--New Year's Eve. It was about 60 that evening.

Today's the kind of day you curse the Great Chicago Fire of 1871: brick, true to form, holds heat, as in all day long, resulting in an excruciating night on sweaty sheets. I miss the fake-brick, stapled-on siding and clapboard charm of Milwaukee, where there wasn't a conflagration that decimated some 2,000 acres and 18,000 buildings and attendant paranoia that resulted in a city top-full of brick buildings.

Speaking of paranoia--well, let me first just say that I understand there's a need and we've a right to be concerned when excessive heat invades our typical tundra. I lived just 80 miles cooler than the Great Chicago Heat Wave of 1995, in Milwaukee, so I remember the brutality of the heat/humidity combo those early days in July (and how there wasn't a room in any motel, even flophouses, all the way out to Kenosha and Lake Mills) and how overwhelmingly underprepared the Upper Midwest was for this attack. Author Eric Klinenberg writes that

The heat wave was a particle accelerator for the city: It sped up and made visible the hazardous social conditions that are always present but difficult to perceive.
Huh. That statement could be applicable to events of last year, if you replace the words "heat wave" with "hurricane."

Anyway, the "never again" mentality is of course justified.

But millions of Southerners endure worse heat over more days and months.

So I wear a small smile when I hear local forecasters intone doomsday-ingly about "heat indexes" and "cooling centers," remembering 12-hour days spent outside, playing--biking, trampoline, kick the can, roller skating, swinging, sloshing in the wading pool and ruining a circular patch of backyard grass-- in what were "heat indexes" that would make Tom Skillethead's head explode.

Current temps, July 17, 3:15 pm: Tom Skillethead: 93; 93 ("feels like 103"); Weather Underground: 96.3; Sun-Times: 94 ("RealFeel Temp 104"); NOAA (National Weather Service): 95 (heat index 108).


1 comment:

Justin K. said...

I lived through it - but I gotta tell ya if Eric and Co. didn't write a book about it and the media didn't go nuts about all the old people dyin, I probably wouldn't remember it being hotter than any other summer. There...I said it. Revisionist history..except for the dead old people.