Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Even Martha Finds it Warm

These last few days have made me remember Mom's advice about 'be careful what you wish for.' When we had all that rain and chilly weather in May, was I alone in wondering 'when will summer get here?' All that snowy, sleety stuff we had back in February, when we hated the weatherman/woman for telling us about the three to five inches we'd be clearing tomorrow (like we'd have hated them less had they lied to us? Talk about confusing cause and effect. I always forget they report the weather, they don't actually make it)--where is any of that now? (and will we not whine piteously again next February when we're sneezing and freezing?)

Let's not get distracted by the rising mercury-we wanted this weather. We longed for a heat index so high we would break a sweat just reading the thermometer. That's why we traded that wind-chill index in for something tactical, yet decorative. So, for the last couple of days we've been sticky. C'mon, as we used to say in my old neighborhood, you can't make an omelet without beating a monkey with a baseball bat (we moved when I was very young. Thank goodness!). Push comes to shove we can always go to the beach or to the movies....

When we were kids, that's how our parents handled hot summer temperatures. The movie houses used to advertise they were air conditioned (with banners that always said "KOOL inside" with icicles hanging off the letter "O") and patrons would to flock to see anything as long as we could sit in the cool and dark of the cinema. (Explains why all those Elvis Presley movies were hits and why they were always released in late May and early June.).

Malls and stores didn't really get into air conditioning into the late Sixties and early Seventies--until we had an extensive network of nuclear powered electricity providers, merchants were reluctant to attempt air conditioning. And the cost of the original window units was staggering. Your parents always installed the first home air conditioner in their bedroom, accompanied by a lot of huffing and and puffing and torrents of urgent, angry whispering (dammit! I told you to hold that foam rest! I almost dropped this thing!) that consumed most of the two hours or so it took to get the unit in, and get it turned on. You used to invent reasons (actually excuses masquerading as reasons) to go into your parents' bedroom so you could cool off.

When/if the day came that your house had more than one air conditioner, your popularity on the block went through the roof (and if you had pool, either in-ground (a/k/a 'a real pool') or above ground, double Yahtzee!) and everyone wanted to hang out with you. And every time somebody came in or out your dad would bellow, 'how about a little faster with the door? I'm not air-conditioning the whole backyard!' Except, of course, he was.

Forty-five years on, the characters have changed and it's all on a Blu-Ray DVD instead of Super Eight film. And look at how life-like the color is! The parts of the huffing and puffing mom and dad struggling with the a/c units are now played by my wife and I. And there's no pool because whenever we go outside we're covered in suntan lotion so thick it would leave a slick in the water like the Exxon-Valdez (get that gull out of there before it drowns! Oh no, the PETA folks are here!) and who can afford the water or the electricity to drive the A/C.

Meanwhile Martha Reeves is on the City Council of Detroit and there's alternate side Dancing in the Street (except on Thursdays when there's sweeping).
-bill kenny

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