June 5, 2006
My hatred of the heat is a well known and everybody hates heat plus humidity so why even mention it. By now I should have adapted. I was born in a hot place (although admittedly on the the coldest of days), I grew up in a miserably hot and humid place (although I constantly dreamt of snow), and I now reside in a place where heat and humidity are the norm from May to September and where apartments are often poorly cooled ovens.
My friends and family say hot months make me gloomy, that I act as if nature itself has betrayed me. I admit it, can't help it, and I can't fathom how life goes on in the truly sweltering places like Dehli or Baton Rouge. I visited Dehli once in August and each day in that broiling liquid soup they call air took years off my life. I would sleep covered with wet cloth under a fan and even so the only effect was that instead of being hot and sweaty I was now hot and wet, with sticky air being dragging round and around the room. Even the mosquitoes were too hot too fly, they would cling limply to the walls eventually sliding down to the ground.
Once when working on a movie scout I found myself backstage at Disneyworld. Why build an amusement park in a muggy swamp? Did Walt secretly hate kids? On the scout I would escape to an heavily air conditioned room used by the characters in what they called "breathing breaks". Inside those character suits, they are literally drenched in sweat. "Bad enough on a normal day, but when the temperature outside hits 103°F, it's murder. You could suffocate in there!" I practically screamed, "I would drop dead. Dead, dead dead." I announced this to a room to populated with several dwarves carrying their heads, a pig, Minnnie Mouse, Goofy, and a morose Tweedle-Dee . The room had gone silent. Minny helped Goofy push his head back to reveal a dripping red faced man, "We lost a Pluto last year in the dance routine; he fell backward and people thought it was part of the act.... but of course it wasn't..." he whispered. All the characters looked at each other. I thought I heard someone crying underneath the pig suit. I realized he an the others weren't getting all choked up so much because of Pluto, they were getting choked up because they were flirting death every day and they knew it.
Here in New York there is a small escape from the misery of summer: ice cream freezers. If you overheat while dragging yourself around the city, step into your nearest grocery store and find the ice cream freezer (the TV dinner section will do in a pinch). Open the door and bask in the cold. The cooling mist will envelope you and bring you down to near normal temperature. Even if you spend a very long time standing there with your eyes closed, most people will just ignore you. If a clerk asks you what you are doing, answer "thinking." This answer always throws them off, because it is irrefutably true and nobody want to interrupt a good thought... Anyway this is a long way of saying, if you see me this summer standing in front of freezer for a very long time, there's no need to worry, I'm just becoming human again.