I’m Melting

June 22, 2001

I’m taking a break from summer because my wife and I recently had our air conditioner break down. Those of you in the North will say, "Oh". Those of you in the South will say, "OH! Are you all right? Should we set up a Disaster Relief Fund?" Those of you who are from the North but vacationing in the South will say, "Um, gee, we were going to stop in and visit, but we…uh…recently contracted necrotizing faciitis."

Fortunately a couple of air conditioner repair guys came by and fixed the problem with gumbo tape. This is a special kind of extra-strong tape that Cajuns invented to use on tourists who walk around saying things like, "Hoo boy, that jazz club filled me with ela-shawn, I gorawnteee!"

Although it’s not exactly been pleasant, the lack of air conditioning has allowed me to make several interesting observations. For instance, linoleum flooring will eventually get warm. I realized this when I found the cat, who usually flops out on the floor during hot weather, trying to figure out how to operate the ice dispenser. (Interesting fact: the word "linoleum" comes from the Latin for "kitchen floor covering that repels heat".) Also, no matter how many windows you open, or how much linoleum you have, it will still be hotter inside than outside. Finally, fans are extremely effective if you want to blow hot air from one side of the room to the other.

One question that remains unanswered is how, up until scientists developed new forms of clothing known as "shorts" and "t-shirts" sometime in the 1970’s, people got along without air conditioning. You’ve probably noticed that in old photographs people are always wearing about seventeen layers of clothing, not to mention assorted headgear, even in the summer. (This was also before the invention of deodorant, but I won’t get into that.) This is why people in old photographs are never smiling. In the famous picture of Queen Victoria, for instance, she’s thinking, "I hope the freakin’ photographer hurries up so I can change into a silk nightgown stuffed with ice cubes."

Of course here in the South we’re descended from several generations of people who walked around in 90-degree weather in three-piece suits. That’s 90-degrees Fahrenheit, by the way, which would be 32 degrees Celsius. The South will never adopt the Celsius system because it’s hard to accept a system in which ice cubes rapidly disappear at 32 degrees. Besides, on really hot days it’s only possible to really express one’s discomfort with a three-digit number. If you say, "It’s a hundred and ten degrees here!" people will feel sorry for you regardless of which system they’re using. Unless they’re using the Kelvin system, in which 110 degrees is -256 degrees Fahrenheit, or -163 degrees Celsius. Only astronomers like the Kelvin system, which is why it’s named after the most unpopular kid in your high school class, who also happened to be president of the astronomy club.

Anyway, there are limits even for those of us who live below the Mason-Dixon line, which is a line that divides "OK to wear three-piece suits and hats" regions from "pack your underwear with ice cubes" regions. It was considered to be reasonably accurate, until recently when it was discovered to have been drawn by Kelvin.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

To all you Hoosiers and those who’ve had the pleasure of living amongst us!

You know you’re from Indiana when —-

You think the State Bird is Larry.

You don’t know what a "Pacer" is and have never even wondered.

You know that "Mellencamp" went to "Cougar" and back to "Mellencamp".

You can say "French Lick without laughing out loud.

There’s actually a college near you named "Ball State".

You know Batesville is the "casket making capital of the world", and you’re proud of it.

The last "g" is silent in any word ending in "ing".

You could never figure out "spring forward-fall back

Your feelings get hurt whenever someone points out the acronym for Purdue University is "P-U".

You know several people who have hit a deer.

You’ve never met any celebrities.

You’ve seen all the biggest bands 10 years after they were poplar.

Down south to you means Kentucky.

You have no problem spelling or pronouncing "Terre Haute".

Your school classes were canceled because of cold.

Your school classes were canceled because of heat.

You know what the phrase "Knee-high by the Fourth of July" means.

You’ve heard of Euchre, you know how to play Euchre, and you are the master of Euchre.

You’ve seen a running car, with nobody in it, in the parking lot of the grocery store, no matter what time of year it is.

You end your sentences with an unnecessary preposition. Example: "I’m going to the mall, you wanna go with?"

Detassling was your first job. Bailing hay, your second. Or you could stack hay, swim in the pond to clean off, and then have the strength to play a couple of games of hoops, all in the same barn lot on the same day.

You’ve ever had to switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day ("Stoke the fire" and "fling open the windows" for the older version).

You say things like "catty-wumpus" and "kitty-corner".

You install security lights on your house and garage, then leave both of them unlocked.

You carry jumper cables in your car regularly.

You drink "pop".

You know that strangers are the only ones who come to your "front" door.

Kids and dogs ride in the passenger seats of cars and the backs of pickups.

You think nothing of it in spring and fall to be stuck behind a farm implement driving on the roads.

High school basketball game draws a bigger crowd on the weekend than movie theaters, IF you have movie theaters.

Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.

The local paper covers national and international headlines on one page, but requires six for local sports.

You can repeat the scores of the last eight IU games, but unless the MVP is a Hoosier, you are not sure who he is.

You can see at least two basketball hoops from your yard.

You can name every one of Bob Knight’s "exploits" over the last few years.

You shop at Marsh.

Damon Bailey was your childhood hero (Or Steve Alford).

The biggest question of your youth was "IU or Purdue".

Indianapolis is the "big city".

"Getting caught by a train" is a legitimate excuse for being late to school.

The Wabash river is the "biggest body of water" near your house.

You know several different definitions as to what a Hoosier really is.

People at your high school chewed tobacco.

Everyone knows who the town cop is, where he lives, and whether he is at home or on duty.

To get to school you had to drive on a gravel road, a road with several right-angle turns in it, or if you were really lucky, over a covered bridge.

People in your neighborhood really, REALLY like NASCAR.

You actually know what the CART vs IRL debate is about and have taken a side.

The vehicle of choice in your area is not a car, but a pickup.

You are a BIG John Mellencamp fan.

You’ve been to the Covered Bridge Festival.

You took back roads to get there. Why sit in "traffic"?

To you, tenderloin is not an expensive cut of beef, but a big, salty, breaded piece of pork served on a bun with pickles.

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