The blessing and curse of coolness

Sitting here trying to cool off from what I hope is my final trip outside today, I can’t help but notice how my little Weather Bug icon is blinking between its little bug and an ominously red 103. Actually, the temperature down the street at the Catholic school is 102 with a heat index of 109 degrees.

It occurred to me just in the few minutes inside, and out of the scorching day, that I have learned some truths about extrme heat in my half-century plus of mostly living in climates subject at times to hot temperatures.  Those truths:

In the old days before air conditioning young women spent their spare time coming up with new meals to cook on concrete walls.
In the old days before air conditioning young women spent their spare time coming up with new meals to cook on concrete walls.

1. If it’s hot,  get out of the heat.

2. Nothing, not anything at all, beats a glass of ice water when it’s really hot.

3. Air conditioning is both a blessing and a curse.

It is tempting to feel sorry for the guys I see working on the street construction project downtown in which they are tearing up the sidewalk with a jackhammer to replace it with something to give downtown an old-time feel. 

However, these guys are getting paid to do what they are doing. They may or may not have air conditioning in their homes and/or cars. The places they came from in Mexico or Central America may or may not have air conditioning. These men will probably make enough to buy all the air conditioners they need for when they get to be my age.

When I was a young sailor exploring the wares of Magsaysay Drive in Olangapo, in the Philippines, I once thought I discovered the absolute cure for those miserably hot and humid days in which the only way a shower can be soothing is to stay under it the entire day. That cure, I thought was the local San Miguel beer, pulled dripping in ice from a chest in a dark bar. But that is kind of like something else I discovered: Staying in the water is great for soothing a bad sunburn. Getting out of the water isn’t so great and you eventually will have to leave the water unless you can somehow turn into a merman or mermaid.

I could survive this day without air conditioning. It would be miserable, at first, but eventually I could acclimate myself  to where it would be barely bearable.  I never lived in a place with air conditioning until I joined the Navy. Once I left the Navy, I did not stay completely immersed in air conditioning until I graduated from college. I worked as a fireman during most of that time period and survived some hot times but also suffered from heat exhaustion. But once I started having employment in which I didn’t want to look like one big mass of sweat, I became more and more a creature of A/C.

So to paraphrase TV’s “Defective Detective” Adrian Monk — the Tony Shalhoub character in the series “Monk” — in his amusing catch phrase: air conditioning truly is a “blessing and a curse.”

Those magic waves of cool air make life more comfortable. Why should we sweat and suffer prickly heat when we can sit back and, you know, be cool?  But A/C is addicting. You start out, you might only use it at home and in the car and at work. Eventually, you’ll be spending every moment of your life inside because you can’t get enough of that coolness.

It’s truly a monkey on one’s back. But damn, if it isn’t soooo cool!