Put Some Gay In Your Day, Dallas!

The Heat Is On

Standing in front of a full-length mirror and removing her blouse, Maggie the Cat in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof coos to her husband Brick, “The heat has made you cross.”  Of course, Elizabeth Taylor is Maggie, and Paul Newman is Brick, and arguably the two most beautiful people on the planet in 1958 proceed to play the rest of the scene with her in a fitted slip and him in a blue bathrobe.  It is perhaps the most sultry scene ever recorded on film.

And Maggie was right.  The heat will make some of us cross.  Dallas has been going through a late June heat wave with unusually high humidity.  I am reminded of something an old friend of mine said to me years ago.  “Real Texans don’t complain about the heat.  We leave that to the newcomers.”  But I do wonder if it wouldn’t be ever so nice to summer in some cooler locale, although that same friend also said that real Texans don’t use “summer” as a verb.

But this last week or so in Dallas isn’t anywhere near the worst heat I’ve experienced, not by a long shot.  Dallas in 1980 had 69 days of 100-degree heat or more (42 of them consecutive, and most of them being over 105).  There were three days in a row at 113.  Heat at that level will fry your brain, and shave off a few IQ points.  To be honest, some Texans don’t have any IQ points to spare.

But even so, that wasn’t the hottest thing I’ve ever experienced.  Savannah, Georgia, in the summer of 1995 takes that prize by a mile.  The humidity was so intense and the temperature so high that just walking felt like a bucket of hot water, or rather hot spit, had been thrown on you.  I melted faster than the Wicked Witch of the West, as sweat poured down my face that was equal parts perspiration, Elizabeth Arden foundation, and Estee Lauder eyeliner.

Karl and I stumbled into an antique store to escape the heat, and the cool air made me light-headed.  I bolted to a gilded French trumeau mirror to find that the only remnants of my maquillage were two black smudged eyes, leaving me to look like a pasty white raccoon.

Driving in Texas when it’s this hot is really something else, as I was reminded when meeting friends for dinner this week.  Everyone who has driven into Texas in the last fifty years has probably seen the signs saying “Welcome to Texas…Drive Friendly—The Texas Way.”  It is easy to understand how these signs can be confusing for anyone who has actually driven in Texas.  Because, by and large, we don’t drive friendly in Texas.

Oh, sure, there’s the random gallantry one encounters at a four-way stop intersection in town or good old boys waving to an old lady to “Go ahead, I’ll wait.”  But those are the exceptions, not the rules.  Driving in Texas is a competition for the many who choose to engage in the game.

When I was younger, I certainly played that game.  I had places to go, work to do, people to see, groceries to buy, bills to pay.  But now that it is highly unlikely that I will ever have to sit for a performance review of any kind, I can just take my time.

I just yield to any truck because it’s just easier that way.  If it’s one of those big Ford F something or others, I’m downright deferential, because I know what the  “F” means and that whatever numbers follow it actually stands for “you.”  Considering there’s probably at least one loaded gun in the truck’s cab, it’s just better not to engage.

If a plain old car is being driven aggressively, I just get out of its way, telling myself the driver has a job, or that the car hasn’t cooled off from sitting too long in this unchristian heat, or that whoever it is has children.  Just makes driving a little bit easier in the long run.

But since we are off to the beginning of what looks like a long, hot summer, I do have a couple of simple requests.  Don’t talk heat unless you’re actually talking about THE heat.  I don’t want to hear or see a chyron along the lines of “DOJ turns up the heat on Donald Trump.”  Say that his legal troubles are mounting or the probability that further criminal indictments are coming is increasing.  But turning up the heat on virtually anyone or anything right now is going to elicit my sympathy.

The other is I don’t want to hear certain songs until things cool down.  No “Burning Love” from Elvis Presley.  No “Fire” from the Pointer Sisters.  No “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” and certainly not “The Heat is On.”  

“Why don’t you put on your nice silk pajamas, honey, and come on down to the party?  There’s a lovely cool breeze.”  Indeed, Maggie.  Even if Mother Nature fails to provide it, we can put an electric fan outside and put “Summer Breeze” on a loop in our heads.