Friday, July 29, 2005


What I hate most about a Heat Wave is Sweat. Now, since I am a lady, I should say "Perspiration", because "Men Sweat, Ladies Perspire" is the dainty rule I have heard all of my life. But at the risk of being gross, there is nothing dainty about the sweat pouring off one's forehead when the temperature reaches more than ninety degrees, with humidity to match.

I know residents of the more tropical zones have to contend every summer with this kind of heat and humidity and I have often wondered if the body becomes used to this, to where a person could really maneuver about in this kind of weather, without moans of distress and cries of anguish. I have heard that there are people that actually prefer this weather, but I can tell them I do not agree with them until mid-January, when I am very apt to concur.

When Michigan gets a Heat Wave, it is a shock to the system, a slap in the face. We accept blizzards and rain as a part of the punishment for living here, but a Heat Wave is so rare, we fail to understand its power. Thus, we try to live normally, even though the temperature is climbing toward a hundred. When we can't accomplish these normal tasks, we fall back on grim predictions of death by Global Warming and cancerous lesions of the flesh.

You see, the sun has turned into an Enemy. Skin cancer is a real worry and, before going into the sun, a person must slather on all kinds of messy gook, making sure it has the right count of this or that, and limiting the hours spent in the sunshine. Back in the pioneering days, I don't think they worried about this. They simply plowed their fields and chopped down trees in the sun until their skin turned to leather. My father had skin like that, brown and leathery, a farmer's skin. He shielded his head with an old felt hat, discolored and stained by sweat.

Global warming is a worry, too. Take away Michigan's cherry trees, sugar beets and grasslands for the cows and what do you have? Well, Nevada, I'd say, although we are getting equipped for it, with the number of casinos in the state.

When the temperature climbs upward, it is very hard to be stylish, if you are a woman. Hair becomes impossible to manage, unless you shave it all off and then you may have a very crimson pate. Straight hair sinks to a damp mass and curly hair frizzes until it looks like a bolt of lightening flashed downward. Mascara runs in dark rivulets down the face and lipstick fades. There is no way to escape the fact that a gal caught in this hot weather will, by late afternoon, look like an Irish washerwoman after a hard day with the laundry.

Of course, in Heat Waves, everyone runs to the beaches. "To Hell with Contamination", is the motto, as hundreds pepper the same beaches, spreading bacteria and causing many beach closings. We can't win. The sun is out to kill us, the water is filled with tiny enemies intent upon invading our bodies. There is nothing to do but sit somewhere where air conditioning is huffing and hissing and hope there isn't a black out or a brown out.

The recent Heat Wave was different than some. Periodic thunderstorms rolled and crashed in the sky, saving us from the arduous task of trying to water the flowers. Other Heat Waves have been different, as dry as toast, until even the water supply is running dry, and one has to water only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, or the alternate days. Once we had to water by street numbers, odds and evens. It was like a game of chance, as you tried to catch your neighbor on the odd side watering on an even day.

But all of this is immaterial. It's the sweat that is the real problem. We all have heard that dogs sweat through their tongues. Well, why don't humans sweat through their tongues? Why do they have to sweat all over, liquid running from every pore, while a dog just sits around, panting, tongue hanging out? The truth is, sweat rolling into your eyes can blind you, at least momentarily, and many outside workers wear what they call "dewrags" on their heads. I tried wearing one of those, but I felt like Pocohontas without the feather.

Consider those poor people who work on road gangs or roofing buildings in the blaze of sun causing a heat wave! This is courage beyond measure. Somehow they live through it, even the ones who stand in the street with that little sign "Stop"...or "Slow". You never see them holding that sign over their heads for a little shade. They just stand there, turning it one way, then the next, as the sweat pours down their bodies.

Even feet sweat, so wearing shoes on a hot day can be disastrous. My brother wore high top boots and, in the summertime, the odor from those boots kept us awake at night. My sister, who was working in San Francisco and had no idea what the appropriate gift for a couple of young girls might be, sent us a huge bottle of TABU, a popular cologne. Since smelling good was not high on our list of priorities, we poured the entire bottle into my brother's boots. Not that the odor was improved so much, because the combination of cologne and sweaty feet definitely would not sell if captured and bottled. We ended by setting the boots outside every night, hoping to ward off the coons. But my brother received not a few black eyes from other boys from fighting over the smell of his boots.

Sweat ain't romantic. Now, perhaps it might be, on a svelte young Paris Hilton or a sexy Brad Pitt, just a slight gleam that makes the body glow. But, real, honest to God, pouring down sweat isn't something I would recommend in a romantic relationship, at least in large amounts. I would imagine the birth rate drops nine months after a Heat Wave. Making love in a cold spell is warming, but making love in a puddle of sweat just makes one hotter.

The only thing worse than sweat in a hot spell is mosquitoes. Just as the sun is going down and you think there's a chance you might be able to enjoy a lovely summer evening, there they are, the pesky devils! So you have to slather more gunk over the sunscreen gunk to ward away their stings. I tell you, if I met that Pandora, I wouldn't even bother with words, I'd just knock her flat. I know that, in the scheme of things, mosquitoes provide food for those birds who live on an insect diet, but in my opinion, they just aren't eating enough. Why does the Food Chain have to be on the attack?

The best thing about a Heat Wave is that it eventually passes, unless you live on or near the Equator and then I would advise you to consider moving. A little sweat goes a long way. No sense in making a career of it.