Thursday, July 2, 2009
MARK’S ARTICLE – June 24,2009
ROOFTOP – The first one who says “Is it hot enough for you?” is outta here. You won’t even need a ladder. You’ll just slide a ways and land in the hedge down yonder. Might even be fun.
This is one of the few mornings I’ve come up here without my coffee mug. I’ve been known to drink coffee when it’s major hot outside, but didn’t want you to see me sweat. I overly perspire. Got it from my dad. Got his sweat glands and his nose. All the good stuff went to the other brothers.
The birds are even too hot to join us. There was a cardinal on the jungle gym when I first got here. And, a blue jay made two hops in the oak over yonder. But, now, all birds are hiding. You can occasionally hear ‘em, but they’re too hot to move much.
I was talking to an acquaintance a couple of days ago about the heat. I told him that the summers mess me up more than usual. Told him that I didn’t know if the heat was getting worse or if it was just my age. He said he thought it was my age. He didn’t smile when he said it either. Ouch.
You wanna know what I think it is? I think that every year we experience air conditioning makes us that much less tolerant of the heat. A genius I be.
When I was a kid I hated the heat, but I didn’t whine about it like I do now. Back then I went to bed in a sweat and woke up in a sweat.
You can never feel truly clean when you’re hot. Did you know that? When I was a kid, I was never clean for more than 15 minutes all summer. The 15 minutes was due to being able to take one of my baths before Dennis. We had to use the same bath water, and he always got to go first. Poor Big Al. He was always last to bathe. I don’t think he ever got past that.
We’d play outside at all times of the day back then. Didn’t matter how hot it was outside, it was always hotter in the house. Outside you could at least sit under a shade tree and wait for a breeze.
Meanwhile, Mom would be inside ironing clothes in front of the oscillating fan. The old metal-bladed, clanking thing. You couldn’t stop it from oscillating, if you wanted to. I don’t know if was made that way, or that’s the way it got after Dennis and I knocked it over while playing dodge the Whiffleball in the house. Mom went to her grave not knowing about that episode. We thought it best.
On a few summer days, Dennis and I would actually ride our bicycles to the library. We’d always bring something home to read, but we really went because it was air conditioned. We’d sit in there looking at pictures of volcanoes and bugs in the encyclopedias. I’d grab a Hardy Boys or Rick Brandt book right before leaving. You couldn’t go wrong with a good mystery.
On the really good days, Mom would give us a quarter each and we’d ride our bikes to the public pool. I mostly walked around in the pool. Bobbed around is more like it. If we tried to splash or have camel fights, the lifeguard would blow his whistle at us. “No horseplay in the pool!” Hey, why have a pool if you can’t splash around? Sometimes we got blowed at just ‘cause it looked like we were having too much fun. That’s what I think.
We’d stay at the pool for at least three hours. That’s about how long it took for the bottom of our toes to get really chaffed. I think they put the grainy texture on the pool bottom just to get the kids not to spend so much time there.
Do you remember how hungry you’d get after being in the pool for awhile? I don’t know why that was. I’d come home starving. Must’ve been some kind of water pressure on the stomach thing. Sure wasn’t from running around and splashing. -- “TWEET! Hey, no running there!”
Do you know what the tallest structure in the world was back when I was a kid? No, this was even taller than the Empire State Building. The tallest structure was the high dive at Pasadena Memorial Pool. That thing was a mile high.
It took me about three years to work up the courage to climb that ladder to the top. Once up there, I was committed. There was always a bunch of kids yelling for you to hurry up. Some of ‘em were girls even! No, way could I chicken out.
Finally, I walked to the end of the board, said a prayer, held my nose and jumped. And, you know what? It wasn’t fun. When I hit the water, my swimsuit tried to push its way to my throat. I dog paddled to the side and then followed the edge back to the shallow water. That’s all I needed. One jump. Just to be able to say I dove off the high dive. Yes, it was a jump and not a dive, but, if anybody asked me, it came out a dive. Coming across as a coward or sissy back then meant much more than it does now.
Isn’t it weird how the aging process changes so much stuff? When I was young, Grandma’s house was huge. Her front porch was big enough to have a game of tag. I saw the place a few years back. It looked so small. I can’t believe it was the same house.
Begs the question, at what time in our lives are things as they appear? Is it when we’re young, or after we get older? Does age simply minimize the appearance of things?
I happen to believe that’s the case. When we were kids, everything was actual size. Stuff was as big as it was meant to be. As we age, our minds tone everything down. Make stuff less spectacular. That’s a bad trick the mind plays.
Wish my mind could do that with the heat. I really think it’s actually hotter than it used to be. Has nothing to do with age. What I think. Regardless, it’s too hot to remain up here any longer. And, before anybody says it, yes, it’s hot enough for me. Beat you to it. -- Next time.