mandag, juli 17, 2006

Methods of Escape

As we have real heat here for only about eight weeks each year, it’s rather easy for the many of us in old apartment buildings to live without central air. But two sustained days in the 90s is enough to make all of us doubt our decision.

On the first truly hot day (Saturday), I occupied my time with classic diversions:
1. Farmer’s Market visit at 7:15 am, before the heat got going. For $10, I nabbed three ears of sweet corn, a bunch of white table onions, seven bulbs of fresh garlic, one head of spinach, four heads of baby bok choy, a ridiculous amount of golden new potatoes, and a head of broccoli bigger than my face.
2. When the heat got going, I ventured to the Minneapolis Art Institute and wandered the halls for a couple hours, taking in the jade mountain sculpture, the Chinese scholar's room (always one of my favorites), the Japanese art, the tempera paintings, some interesting American portraits, and a small, seemingly impromptu neoclassical exhibit of Cupid and Psyche paintings and sculptures in one of the interior rooms. Nice stuff. Found rooms I can't recall having been in before.
3. I had a late lunch at one of my block’s locals. Ate quesadillas and sipped two iced teas. The bar was lively as the whole neighborhood seemed to have turned out to get indoors. At the next table, one of the young waitresses was spending her free afternoon with a pitcher of water and lemon wedges for sucking on. She scratched absently at the table. Boredom had unhinged her jaw a touch.
4. I watched Mission Impossible 3 at the $2 theater (Riverview! Woo!).
5. I went to a bookstore and wrote for 90 minutes. Tried to find the Japanese-speaking group (as I'd like to practice) but failed.

By this point the sun had dipped low enough that it had released my third-floor apartment. (West-facing windows should almost be illegal.) The joint was still quite warm. Ick. Fell asleep concentrating dearly on not sweating.

Next morning, I woke to a thunderstorm. I went running in the rain. I ran in the rain just to feel its coolness.

After the rain, the humidity was just plain wrong. I couldn’t eat. I could barely move for the phone when it rang. But it was a friend gathering some folks at a joint on my block for a late breakfast, so I met them there, my appetite returned, and we had a nice time. The filthy humidity was waiting for us when we left. It was so stiffling out it made mouths water, as if the air's water was permeating right down inside us.

Perhaps dazed from the bloody mary and beer I’d had with the French toast (which Costello's calls Irish Toast), I went running again. That was stupid. The heat was really starting to frustrate me.

I took a cold shower. I tried not to move. I ate another six ice cubes, bringing my weekend consumption of them up to about 96 at that point. I drank a Gatorade because it works for sports stars, right? I tried to read from the Gwyn Thomas book I'd found wandering the bookstore to stay cool, but I was having trouble concentrating. Even the floorboards felt humid.

Finally, I gave in. I drove into Roseville (because I could milk the AC-rich drive for 20 minutes) and bought a standing fan. I bought a model with a remote control. How lazy can I be? It has a multi-colored digital face. (Necessary?) It has three speeds, like any fan. Ah, but it has three settings: Normal, Sleep, and Natural. I can’t tell the difference between Sleep and Natural. Natural “replicates the wind,” so its speed fluctuates. It revs up, it slows abruptly. Sleep slows “in mid-cycle.” So it revs up and slows abruptly. I think what these cycles really do is add $15 to the fan's cost and $15/month to my electric bill. Dammit, Target. You got me good this time.

As I went into the Target to buy this freaky thing, bested by another year's heat, I passed a heap of other tired-looking people in their twenties and thirties, people like me who’d tried to live as simply as possible in the summer. But they too were carrying box fans and standing fans. And when I left with mine, I could feel the jealous looks of all those just like me who were about to give in.

Distraction: Got a favorite word? Mips has us pondering such things at her blog. Nice addition in the comments from c on Anglo-Saxon words.
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