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How Hot Is It?

EVERYONE has their own stories to qualify the brutality of this summer’s heat wave (hottest on record here in Kentucky). The New York Times ran a funny piece last month that measured the misery in terms of utility workers’ overtime pay, the physical toll on firefighters and police officers, and the stir-craziness of New Yorkers stuck in their single air conditioned rooms. (Cooling the entire apartment strains the grid and is a no-no.)

I thought my story was going to center around Simon’s photo album. In a normal summer, we live outdoors from May through July, then suddenly all the pics move inside during the dog days of August and for half of September. Beat down by the heat, multiple park trips per day lose their appeal, and the air conditioned and mosquito-free inside becomes irresistible. Suddenly, you only see the boy in the kitchen, living room, or basement. Only February boasts more interior shots than August.

This summer, however, all of June and July were like that, too. When the camp half-day is over, Simon is too drained to hit a park himself. He only wants to come home, snack, watch a little TV, and then crash. We’re talking naps of over two hours for a kid I thought was giving up his nap. Other parents are reporting similar behavior. We’ve hardly been to the parks this summer, and when we do go, they are sparsely populated except for the splash areas. The pickings of outdoor photos are slim indeed.

But no, that isn’t my story. (Though I have told it.) I’ve now got a better one. Last night at midnight, I found myself outside my friend Gabriel’s new apartment, chatting by the dumpsters with him and his friend Solomon.* We had just spent two hours assembling his bed and fighting with the usual fuzzy diagrams that come with some-assembly-required furniture. Our task—and bonding via mutual frustration—complete, we were now making small talk as we tossed out the packaging and got ready to drive home to our respective apartments. (Gabriel hasn’t slept over in the new place, yet.)

Our talk came to a close when Gabriel and Solomon, two men born in Bor, Sudan (average daily high in August is around 91 with high humidity), who spent a total of about 14 years in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya (average daily high in Kakuma, Kenya, is 104 degrees), and at least one of whom has spent some time in Khartoum (average daily high in summer ranges from 104 to 118, making it the hottest national capital on the planet), looked at each other and said:

“It is too hot out here. I think now I must go home and get into the cool air. Goodnight.”

THAT’S how hot it is, ladies and gentlemen!

* I realized something funny last night. While I don’t miss the physical wear and tear of moving my friends anymore, and years ago decided that if you had REAL furniture you needed to pony up for REAL movers, I do miss the socialization that comes from this type of activity. You really get to know people when you haul their crap up flights of stairs, eat a meal off of packing boxes on the floor, and struggle to figure out where “Part C” described in the bad diagram goes on your brand new bed/desk/bookshelf. I felt younger last night than I have in a while, and had a truly lovely chat with Gabriel and Solomon, free from the polite constraints that can hobble conversation in more civilized settings.

One Response to “How Hot Is It?”

  1. Amanda says:

    When do Gabriel’s family get here? Do they need anything?

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