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DIANE MAKAR MURPHY Summertime sweltering brings back memories



Published: Thu, July 26, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



This weather -- this sweltering hot, miserable weather -- always calls to mind an old "Outer Limits" episode.

& quot;It's so hot you can fry eggs on the sidewalk, & quot; a radio announcer broadcasts before breaking into insane laughter.

The earth had evidently been knocked off its orbit and was moving ever closer to the sun! "People are running wild in the streets!" he screams.

I haven't yet tried to fry an egg on the sidewalk. My glasses did, however, for the first time in my life, fog up as I got out of my air-conditioned car.

Perhaps the earth has been knocked off its orbit and is moving toward the sun.

People seem to think that if you complain about winter's cold, you can't complain about summer's heat. My husband grew up in Phoenix and he hates the cold. But he won't say a bad word about the hot weather.

"It's hot today," I say. My face is flushed. Sweat is soaking through my waistband.

"Lovely out," he retorts.

"OK. But really hot!" I press.

"Lovely," he repeats.

But I believe you can complain about both heat AND cold. After all, there's fall. I'm gracious during fall.

Lazy days: In an old Little Rascal's show, the boys are too hot to move. They're camped under an enormous tree, one sprawled out in a hammock, another leaning against a stump. A little sister brings a lemonade.

& quot;Put it ovah here, & quot; the Rascal in the hammock drawls. & quot;Now, put the straw in my mouth. & quot;

I'd say it's been that hot lately.

We don't have air conditioning in our home. We want it. It's on our wish list. In the mean time, we have fans. Lots and lots of fans.

When I was a kid, central air was rare. Now, we're the rare ones. The rich people had it. My parents had one window air conditioner and that went in THEIR bedroom window. It was amazing. The hallway was the Sahara, but Mom and Dad's room was Antarctica. You could nap in there under a blanket. We spent many hot evenings in their room shivering, watching the nine o'clock movie and sipping Pepsis.

At night, my first floor bedroom was & quot;cooled & quot; by a box fan. My sister, who had the converted attic bedroom, had two fans -- one sucking cool air in and another drawing warm air out.

If it was truly miserable, we slept in the basement or lathered up with bug spray and slept on the unscreened back porch.

Our neighbor, Mr. Swiatek, had a bit of a tummy and a touch of asthma. His driveway was adjacent to my bedroom window. In the heat of day, you could hear him out with his little Boston Terrier, Suszie, doing yard chores back and forth, up and down the drive. Every so often, he would gust out air in a dismal sigh of heat and sweat. & quot;Shphew! & quot; And then again, & quot;Shphew! & quot;

& quot;Come on Suszie. Shphew!

"Let's get the trash, Suszie. Shphew! & quot;

Over and over. I can hear it now and imagine his head shaking in amazement at that doggone heat.

Hottest: The worst heat I recall though was the summer I spent in Houston. Humidity? It was tough to distinguish between the air and the ocean. With no air conditioner and mosquitoes like prop planes -- despite the city's habit of dousing entire neighborhoods with insecticide -- we slept inside uncomfortably. I recall a neighbor saying they managed by & quot;lyin' in a tub of cold water for one hour before bed time. Y'all. & quot;

I think it was Houston where I developed the unladylike habit of sweating down the middle front of my shirt.

Which is what I'm doing now. Sitting with a sweat streak running to my belt, staring through fogged up glasses, thinking, & quot;Bring me a lemonade. Now, put the straw in my mouth. & quot;

murphy@vindy.com




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