I like humidity.
There. I said it. I know it’s a controversial statement, especially for all those people who say, “You know, it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity,” as though they feel the heat is being unfairly blamed when people complain about the weather. There are so many genuinely terrible things in the world that I just want to take humidity off the list so we have one less thing to worry about.
And I do know how much difference low humidity can make. I’ve been to Palm Springs, California, in July, so I got to experience firsthand how almost zero humidity can make triple-digit temperatures not only bearable but even comfortable, which is the problem with low humidity. I was at an outdoor gathering and a woman next to me said, “Oh, it’s so pleasant out here,” right before she collapsed from dehydration. Across the street from my hotel there was a bus stop that had the kind of misters grocery stores used to keep the fresh vegetables damp. Only these misters were used to keep people damp and that’s when I realized it was a place where people really don’t belong. We should leave there and leave the misters and the desert will never miss us.
What prompted me to think about this is the morning weather report where the meteorologist had a dew point chart that listed comfort levels from Perfect Summer Day to Comfortable, Muggy, Sticky, Sweltering, and finally Oppressive. None of these sounded particularly technical and, again, going back to the list of things in this world that are genuinely terrible, I think it’s wrong to call humidity “oppressive”. People oppress other people, and that should stop because it’s a deliberate and terrible choice. The humidity isn’t trying to oppress anything. It’s just doing what it does, keeping the air moist.
Humidity makes us feel warmer, and when is being warm a bad thing? Part of what makes winter so miserable is the air gets really dry, although my own saying, “You know, it’s not the cold, it’s the dry” hasn’t caught on yet, but that’s another story. Admittedly it’s also possible to have weather that’s humid and cold which people say is “clammy”, which I’ve never understood because I’ve never had a cold clam, even after I’ve dipped them in cocktail sauce.
And I know there are limits. As much as I like humidity, especially when it makes my hair weirdly puffy which I know bothers some people and they should get over it because it’s just hair, it can get pretty uncomfortable. Even I don’t like to be out in one-hundred percent humidity, although I respect that humidity can actually give a hundred and ten percent—which is mist or fog, and it can even go beyond that, although at that point it’s, well, rain, and if your humidity hits two-hundred percent you’d better have scuba gear or gills.
Also while safety and health are important—never exceed your limits—there’s something very satisfying about working up a good sweat, and you can’t do that when the humidity is so low the air wicks away your body’s water. The salty sheen of a good sweat can be a reward for a job, or a workout, well done, or just a way to relax. The Scandinavians invented the sauna because they also gave the world ABBA and the Vikings, which is enough to make anybody feel like schvitz. And I want to point out that you can’t spell “sweltering” without “swel” and all’s well that ends swel.