Monday, July 15, 2024

I'M WAVING THE WHITE FLAG AT HEAT AND HUMIDITY

 

I’m writing this on day number 1,211 of a non-stop heatwave, with temps in the mid-90s and humidity at sauna levels. Actually, it’s been “only” 11 days, but it seems much, much longer. In fact, because there’s no break in sight and I’m part Native American, I’m seriously considering offering my home for sweat-lodge ceremonies.

I know people joke about the frequently uttered, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity,” but it’s true. I can remember vacationing in Las Vegas when it was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and I barely felt it because the air had zero humidity. Sure, the inside of my nose got so dry from a lack of moisture, it cracked and bled nearly every day, and my skin resembled an iguana's by the end of the week, but that’s a whole other story.

Humidity has been my mortal enemy for decades. Why? Loads of reasons. It’s sticky. It makes the air so heavy, it’s like trying to breathe through syrup. And it causes skin to become so constantly damp, I have to keep checking my armpits for toadstools. 

It’s one of the reasons why whenever my friends who have moved to Florida invite me to come down for a visit, I react with the same enthusiasm as if they’d invited me to bathe in a tub of shark bait and then go skinny-dipping with a family of Great Whites.

Still, I have friends on the West Coast who find it hard to believe New Hampshire actually has humid weather.

“But you live in New Hampshire!” one of them said when I complained about the tropical weather. “Georgia and Florida have humidity.  New Hampshire is cold and dry…like Canada!”

I invited her to come here for a week of “cold and dry” in mid-July, so she can see for herself.

Although I have plenty of valid reasons why I don’t like humidity, first and foremost is my hair. Humidity either can make it look as limp as wet spaghetti or as frizzy as Albert Einstein’s. I can freshly wash and blow-dry it, and even manage to get a little curl into it, but the minute I step one foot outside during the months of June through August, the humidity attacks any semblance of a hairstyle and beats it to within an inch of its life. 

And forget about makeup staying on during humid weather. My eyeshadow migrates into the creases on my eyelids (and believe me, I have plenty of creases) and ends up looking as if I painted stripes on them. Lipstick slides right off my lips and ends up somewhere on my chin.

Another problem with humidity is bread. I don’t like keeping bread in the fridge because it makes it too hard, so I keep it in the breadbox. 

I still can remember the day my husband didn’t look too pleased when he came home from work. 

“I ate half of the sandwich you gave me for lunch today before I noticed that part of the bread was green!” he’d complained, clasping his stomach.  “I think I might wake up dead in the morning.”

“You’ll live,” I told him. “Mold is like penicillin.”

On one TV newscast, some doctor was saying that when the air is humid, perspiration can’t evaporate, so it stays on the skin, preventing the body from cooling. 

I didn’t need an expert to tell me that. My clothes usually stick to me with so much suction during the summer months, I practically need the Jaws of Life to get out of them. I even had to stop wearing colored patterns because the dye was coming off on my skin and making me look as if I were covered in tattoos…or varicose veins.

And every summer back when my husband was alive, we ended up with a white bathroom – not because it was painted that color, but because of my husband’s fear of getting a fungal foot-infection, like athlete’s foot. One night, I saw a mysterious white cloud moving up the hallway. I tracked it into the bathroom, where I found my husband vigorously shaking powder onto his feet.

“You have to be sure to keep your feet really dry in this weather,” he explained between coughs from all of the powder dust. “Humidity can give you such a bad case of athlete’s foot, your toes can rot right off! It happened to a kid I went to school with.”

I cringed as I pictured that poor, toeless kid. “Hand me the powder.”

I hate to admit it but I’d probably suffer a lot less every summer if I weren’t so cheap (make that frugal) when it comes to running the central air-conditioning. Every time I hear it kick on, I imagine my electric meter spinning like the cherries on a slot machine and making “cha-ching” noises.

Another aggravating problem in the summer humidity is the sweaty toilet. That’s because the water in my well is spring-fed and super cold. When my toilet tank fills up after a flush, the icy water meets with the hot, damp air in the room and the tank sweats. Sometimes it even drips down and forms a puddle on the bathroom floor.

When I asked a plumber about it, he suggested, “Buy one of those fuzzy toilet-tank covers to absorb the moisture, then it won’t drip.”

Easy for him to say. The last time I saw a fuzzy tank-cover anywhere, Sonny and Cher were still newlyweds.

But the summer dilemma I’m now facing is how to get my vitamin pills. The brand I use can't be purchased anywhere locally so I have to order it online. On the bottle’s label it says, “Keep in a cool, dry place and away from heat.”

That’s just about impossible if I order them this time of year. My mailbox, which is at the edge of the road in the blazing sun, gets so hot, I have to wear oven mitts to open it. So those vitamin pills would be given their last rites after only 30 seconds in it. And I don’t think the postal vehicles are all that cool inside either. At the rate I’m going, if I have to wait until cool and dry weather before I order my vitamins, I’ll be too old to remember what they’re for.

I guess I have no choice other than to be patient, endure the humidity, and count the days until September, when the air once again will turn crisper and cooler and I will be in my glory.

But for now, with at least another six weeks of hot weather to suffer through, I will just have to resign myself to the fact I’ll be spending a lot of time looking like a tattooed Albert Einstein, eating green bread, feeling weak and tired due to a lack of vitamins, and watching my toes rot off…probably because they will be submerged in a puddle on the floor whenever I sit on the toilet.

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Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science-fiction. Contact her at: sillysally@att.net.