June 19, 2009
Anyone who says "It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity" needs to be smacked upside the head. By the way, if you’re a Yankee or other alien, "smacked upside the head" is a Southern expression that really just means "smacked in the side of the head". We use it as an excuse to use the perfectly legitimate but underused word "upside" because as far as I know there’s no other way it can be used. The upside of this is that Southern hospitality usually prevents us from smacking someone upside the head unless they really deserve it. It is the heat. And it’s the humidity. Whoever the bonehead was who first came up with the expression "It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity" didn’t realize that there wouldn’t be any humidity without the heat. You never hear anybody in the winter say, "Boy, it’s freezing out here, but at least it’s a dry cold!" And people will say things like, "You know, I went to Arizona and it was a hundred and twenty-seven degrees out there, but I didn’t even notice it!" What they aren’t telling you is that they didn’t notice the heat because they were unconscious with heatstroke. And while I realize that a dry heat is at least slightly more bearable than a humid heat, all that dryness does horrible things to your skin. Sure, you can enjoy the nice, dry climate of the Southwest, but you’ll end up looking like you’re ninety when you’re fifty. There’s a reason some of the worst and most dangerous outlaws in history, including John Wesley Hardin who once shot a man for snoring too loud, lived in the Southwest. It’s because their skin got so tough bullets would just bounce off of them. By the way, if Hardin’s jury had been composed of women whose husbands snored, he would have been acquitted. But that’s another story.
Lately here we’ve also been getting afternoon thunderstorms. Just when you think the heat and humidity can’t get any more unbearable it’s like nature drops a giant water balloon on us. The average afternoon thunderstorm lasts approximately fifteen seconds but will produce more than three inches of rain. And then the sun comes out immediately and all the streets start steaming and we all suddenly know what it’s like to be asparagus in a French kitchen. The other day a co-worker of mine walked from his building to my office for a meeting. He came over between thunderstorms but he might as well have gotten caught in one because when he arrived he was drenched. I mean he was soaking wet. He looked like he’d jumped in a swimming pool with all his clothes on. He said, "It’s unbelievably hot out there." And I said, "You know, it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity." And then I bent down so he could smack me upside the head.