We’re having a heat wave. While Irving Berlin’s “Heat Wave” is a tropical one, I’m not sure what we’re experiencing has anything to do with any exotic locale. It’s one thing for it to be hotter than Hades in Texas, or even across the country, but when the spread of it is across the globe, that’s something else entirely.
But the tough native-born Texan knows how to handle this heat by making adjustments. Earlier this week, I met a friend for lunch in a shopping center restaurant—well, it’s called a “village” because it’s upmarket. The parking in this “village” is notoriously scarce, but I drove right by an available space within easy walking distance of the restaurant to avail myself of the services of the complimentary valet.
Normally, I’d have taken the space and the short stroll to our meeting place to save the cost of tipping the valet parker. But when it’s already over 100 degrees, there is no such thing as a short stroll. In that heat, we’re talking about breaking into a sweat and eyeliner running down one’s face like hair dye on Rudy Giuliani. Forget my usual frugality, I’ll pay the tip, and even raise it for the service.
So after a three-hour lunch, or three martinis if one measures time by the cocktail, the unfortunate valet had to get my car. Getting in after all those hours of it being in the sun was just shy of cremation. I slipped the sandal off my right foot as I learned long ago that the easiest way to ruin cute shoes is to drive in them. Putting my bare foot on the brake pedal to shift into drive burned my tootsie, and I wondered where the hell was my neuropathy when I needed it.
I put my still-sandaled left foot on the brake, remembering from driver’s education that we’re not supposed to do that, and put my bare foot on the accelerator, which was just as hot as the brake pedal. Using the palms of my hand to steer, the car and I limped into the street and to a red light where I hoped things would cool down enough that I would be no more of a menace on the streets of Dallas than I normally prove to be.
Looking over at the lady behind the wheel of the big black SUV next to me at the light—considering the neighborhood, I’m sure it was a really good SUV—I saw that she was clutching her steering wheel with what appeared to be pot holders. I was one part fascinated, one part impressed, and one part horrified. I couldn’t see them, but again considering the neighborhood, they were probably handmade and monogrammed. Being that planful is something to be admired, and this lady clearly had things under control. But then I thought how children are notoriously bad at planning and how disappointed she could probably be every time they forgot to tell her something she needed to know so she could, you know, plan for it. I envied her pot holders, for sure, but not the years of therapy of which her children would probably have need.
It didn’t take all that long for the steering wheel and the pedals to cool down, so I headed home. The DJ on the radio informed me that the sale of ice cream was spiking due to the heat wave. I thought how lovely ice cream would be right now and considered stopping to get some until I remembered that I need ice cream like I need a side saddle, and besides, I would have to get out of the car and back into the crematorium to buy some. Never mind.
But I still thought about ice cream. For two summers when I was a teenager, I worked at O’Neal’s, where Mr. O’Neal, who made his own ice cream in the back of the parlor. He didn’t have all the exotic flavors available at the Baskin-Robbins by the Kmart, but his rum raisin was so good and so real rum I’m still surprised that an investigation wasn’t initiated by the powers at the First Baptist Church, where Mr. O’Neal was a deacon.
Using the visualization technique I learned back in my ‘80’s metafloozie days, I conjured the walk-in freezer at O’Neal’s to cool myself while I waited at another red light. I was so deep in this visualization that I didn’t notice that the light had turned green until the driver of the big black F-250 behind me blared his horn, no doubt suffering from heat anger and a lack of monogrammed pot holders. Considering not the neighborhood, but that this is Texas, I’m surprised I didn’t get shot.
Arriving at home, I took a moment to savor the temperature drop of about 35 degrees I was about to experience. Not quite Mr. O’Neal’s freezer, but I know I can get through this heat wave unless the power goes out and takes the air conditioning with it.
In which case, I’m going to make a run for the border and cuss Greg Abbott all the way to Louisiana.