“Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun.” Or, to put it another way, welcome to the subtropical swamp we like to call the Lowcountry.
It’s hot, but we knew that when we slithered out of our sweat-soaked sheets this morning. You might not think our corner of the world could be hotter than, say, the steamy Amazon jungle, but it is and we have the electric bills to prove it.
For 23 years my brother, T-Bob, has lived in South Florida, where it’s so hot people will go through a car wash in a convertible. Even he wilts in our heat. Every time he flies into Charleston he starts gurgling when we walk out of the airport.
“I’m fixing to burst into flames,” he says. “Seriously, do you have a fire extinguisher?” Then he fans himself with a handkerchief and gurgles louder. (What he really wants is a Sonic cherry-limeade, but I make him work for it.)
Here are some remedies for the heat. They won’t make it pleasant, exactly, but at this point we’ll settle for bearable.
- Lie in a hammock in the shade and eat sliced tomatoes sprinkled with black pepper and balsamic vinegar.
- Run a tepid bath and soak for at least 30 minutes. (If you have a glass of wine, I won’t tell.)
- Try not turning on the stove for a week. (Yes!) See how creative you can be with fresh fruits and vegetables, salads, gazpachos, yogurt, cheeses, herbs and anything else that doesn’t require heat to eat.
- Eat a Fudgesicle. In fact, I’ve found this improves virtually any situation.
- Wear nothing not made of cotton or seersucker.
- Find one of those old-fashioned funeral fans, and a veranda with a swing. Flop in swing and fan self. Repeat.
- Move slower, speak softer and wear loose-fitting clothes, by which I mean as few as possible.
- Ladies, wear a wide-brimmed straw hat. You may not be cooler, but you will FEEL cooler.
- Put ice water in a pitcher and add a few slices of cucumber and a sprig of mint. Drink that sucker dry.
- Speaking of cucumbers, put ice-cold slices on your eyes when you wake up. After 45 seconds you will feel invigorated—plus, you’re ahead on making lunch.
- Do not, under any circumstances, get in a hurry. Hurry will just make you hotter and mad.
As I write this, we’ve had more than two weeks of temperatures above 95 degrees. How hot is it, exactly? Glad you asked.
It’s so hot that…
- New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg was seen drinking a Big Gulp.
- People are baking cookies on their dashboards.
- Cows are giving powdered milk. Or…
- Cows are giving sour milk.
- I saw a chicken lay an omelet.
- The barn thermometer topped out at "Are you kidding me?"
- You can wash and dry your clothes at the same time.
- Employees at KFC are jumping into fryers to cool off.
- My neighbor saw a bird pull a worm out of the ground with potholders.
- Campbell’s soup instructions now just say, “Pour and eat.”
- Farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying hard-boiled eggs.
- You have to change clothes with a spatula.
And, my very favorite:
- The corn popped in the fields. The cows looked over the fence, thought it was snow, and froze to death.
Try to stay cool, my friends. Me, I’ve gotta go flip my egg on the sidewalk. I like mine over-easy.
Julie R. Smith, who gets even crazier in the heat, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.