Thursday, July 8, 2010

Staying cool on hot summer nights

You’ve hear the one about how, if you don’t like the weather in Ohio, wait a day and it will change? Or the one about “you know you’re from Ohio if you use the heat and the air-conditioning in the same day?”
And even more, someone will say both of these old jokes in the same breath as saying, “there’s nothing like an Ohio summer,” and then in the next breath start whining about the humidity.
If there’s one thing we Ohioans can handle, it’s a change in weather. We’re trained at an early age to adjust to the elements. From our youngest days in the back seat, we watch our parents pull out contraptions for every season. From under the bottomless front seat I have seen my own mother pull out, on the same day, umbrellas, sun block, ice scraper and I’m pretty sure there was 25 pounds of rock salt in there too.
Now, in the midst of the heat of summer, the thought of shoveling off our cars is so distant, it’s like a fading memory, a mirage within a desert of humidity with air so thick you could probably put that shovel to good use again.
But as I said, we genuine Ohioans are trained for this. I’ve been sweating through the summer for as many years as I can remember. We didn’t have air conditioning, or if we did my parents didn’t turn it on because I specifically remember laying in my bed in a pool of my own perspiration. I tried many various ways of cooling off. I’d stick a leg or two out from under the covers for just a few seconds, just long enough for them to drop a few degrees but not so long that the unavoidable boogie monsters would smell fresh meat and come out to eat me.
I also remember doing the “pillow flip,” where I would toss and turn on one side of the pillow until I swore it was going to burst into flames, right there under my head. And when I couldn’t take it a single second more, I’d turn it over to the other side, where the heat of my boogie-man-safe body hadn’t melted the interior feathers into an ashy mess. From there I’d wait until I had preheated that side of the pillow and could flip it over once again.
Chances are that side of the pillow was still warm, so I’d have to stick my legs out again, taking my chances against whatever was really out there. A vicious, and sizzling, circle.
At our family weekend getaway there was definitely no air conditioning, and I know this because I would often see my dad sleeping on top of all the blankets, an obviously ridiculous way to expose oneself to the boogie man. To remedy the heat, he had big box fans in every window, securely fastened with a bungee cord that stretched from pull tie to pull tie and kept the fan, which hummed and vibrated at supersonic speeds, mildly safe all night long.
I know this because I would lay there awake, flipping my pillow from the safety of my covers wondering if the cord would hold or if the fan would take flight in the wee hours of the morning and zip around the room. I also pondered which direction it would go because my dad had it rigged up so that the direction of flow pointed out the window so that, and I quote, “it will blow the hot air out of your room.” Oh, how I longed to be on the other side of that window, where a breeze, albeit warm, would slightly cool me down, instead of being in the room with all of that heat.
But I wasn’t. Instead I was in Ohio Summer Boot Camp, paying my dues and earning my stripes as an official Ohioan, easily learning to love a beautiful summer.

2 comments:

The Starr Family said...

Simply too funny for words. And too true.. I'm a pillow flipper.

BECKY said...

Hey...We have that same saying about St. Louis!! Honest!! :)

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