Hot Child in the City
Okay, okay.  Somebody has to say it, and that somebody might as well be me.

ENOUGH with the summer, already.

Oh, don’t look at me like that.  I don’t want to hear it.  I don’t want to hear your whiny little platitudes about picnics and barbecues and long vacations lounging around the beach being fanned by cabana boys who scramble to refill your margarita glass at the mere snap of a finger.

I’ve had it with summer and I want it to be fall – pronto.

Now, I can pretty much find fault with every season.  New England winters are cold and bleak, and after the first pretty snowfall melts away into a puddle of salt and city grime, I’m pretty much over the novelty of it all.  And spring – that is, that wet sponge-like period between April and June they used to call “spring” in Massachusetts – is little more than one continuous bad hair day from start to finish.  Even the fall – by far my favorite season – wreaks havoc with my allergies and even greater havoc with my wardrobe (face it; no matter what outfit I pull out of the closet on any given day in October, I know I’ll either be sweating or freezing by the time I get across the street).

Nevertheless, I’ll gladly and gleefully suffer the worst of any of those seasons over a hot, steamy, wretched New England summer.

Of course, the fact that I spent much of last week sitting in the deep end of a gigantic puddle of sweat long after the hot weather was supposed to be over with might have something to do with my foul temper.

My aversion to this season does not sit well with many people I know, who profess to love summer and everything to do with it.   In fact, they find it so incomprehensible they simply ignore it.

“Oooh!” they burble from the comfort of their air-conditioned beach houses.  “Don’t you just love the warm weather?  Isn’t it fabulous?  Isn’t it so wonderful to be able to wear sandals and white pants and sundresses?”

In a word?  NO.  No, no, and no.

Sandals give me blisters.  Unless I have some type of fabric between my shoes and my feet, the leather straps rub my skin raw and cause me such agony I limp about from June through August, my feet encased in thick layers of Band-Aids and Neosporin.  Not to mention the hassle and aggravation of the mandatory weekly pedicure – which, come May, suddenly becomes not so much a luxurious treat but rather a tedious prerequisite to showing one’s toes in public.

And white pants? A filth magnet!  I am hard pressed to recall a single day over the past six months I have been able to navigate through my office without spilling coffee, dribbling Diet Coke, or accidentally poking myself with a red pen.  Without a dark color to conceal my own clumsiness, I am one purple Popsicle away from total outfit meltdown.

As for sundresses, well, they just don’t work without a tan, and I have no intention of subjecting myself to the ravages of the sun for the sake of fashion, and the self-tanning solution brings about its own brand of misery come autumn when the tan begins to fade…or, rather, flake off.  I went for a routine physical last September, and my doctor took one look at my brown-speckled legs and wanted to send me to the burn ward  until I finally convinced her I was just shedding MysticTan all over the exam table.

But, fashion and beauty aside, let’s talk about the real problem with summer.

It’s the heat, dammit.

Let me explain something.  I am comfortable – deliciously, delightfully, blissfully comfortable – at precisely 72 degrees Fahrenheit, although my range of acceptable temperatures for warm-weather months ranges from 70 to 80.  That’s when you will be able to spot me bopping happily down the street, sunglasses perched jauntily at the bridge of my nose, denim jacket slung casually over my shoulder and closed-toes pumps tap-tapping a merry cadence on the city sidewalk.

When the temperature exceeds the bounds of human tolerance (that would be anything north of 81 degrees), I do not bop happily down the sidewalks.  I trudge.  Unhappily.  This makes me uncomfortable.  It makes me tired.  And it makes me irritable.  Very, very irritable.

Plus, hot weather messes with my sleep.  I need to sleep in a freezing cold room with piles and piles of blankets on top of me.  This is not a problem in the winter, because my bedroom windows are now so old and corroded they allow a lovely draft to sweep across the room.  In the summer, however, the corrosion in my windows works against me by sucking whatever cool air I’ve been able to trap right back out again, leaving me to toss and turn all night, drowning in my own sweat, making me even more uncomfortable, more tired, and more irritable than ever.

Every year I go through the same mental contortions.  Because I have bars on all my windows to keep the burglars at bay, I can't install air conditioners; so each year, as summer approaches, I say to myself, “This is going to be the year I install central air conditioning.”  Then, after suffering through relentlessly long and miserable heat waves and, invariably, emerging on the other side intact, say, “Well, I made it through this one…but next summer – definitely.  Central AC.”  Then I never do it.

This year I had two HVAC companies come out and crawl through my ductwork (no easy feat), only to emerge and proclaim that the only way to install a central air system would be to replace my decades-old furnace, at astronomical expense and with no guarantee the work would be completed before the end of the summer.  So I dithered…again…and July came and went, then August, along with the worst of the summer heat waves.  By the time I was staring down the barrel of September, the urgency had passed.

There is only one thing that makes this fetid desert of a Boston summer bearable:  The Coldstone Creamery.

Coldstone Creamery is a new ice cream chain that’s recently opened a store directly across from the Whole Foods where I do my weekly grocery shopping.  Not only do they make delicious ice cream on the premises, they make their delicious ice cream even more delicious by adding to it any combination of the most creative and tasty toppings, filling, and mix-ins ever assembled in a single ice cream parlor (my personal favorite is French Vanilla with graham-cracker pie crust and caramel swirl, but I am also partial to Sweet Cream with chocolate cake and pecans).

I have made a little deal with myself:  Any time the weathercasters declare an official heat wave (that’s 3 days of 90-degree plus heat), I get to go to Coldstone Creamery and eat whatever I want.  As a result, I have been there five times in the past three months (including one heat wave in which I went three times – shut up; I was hot!)  It’s not as good as having central air conditioning, but, hey, it’s something.

I haven’t been to Coldstone Creamery lately. The weather has cooled off nicely, and I’ve already broken out my jeans and leather jacket in preparation for the fall.  To tell you the truth, though, I kind of miss my French Vanilla with graham-cracker pie crust and pecans.  It’s particularly painful to have to walk out of the Whole Foods each Sunday, grocery bags overflowing with green beans and free-range chicken, and see my little heat-haven sitting there across the parking lot – empty and beckoning.  I'm seriously considering doing my shopping elsewhere, at least until next June.

Thus, this past week, when the weathercasters blithely announced a stretch of hot, “summer-like” weather was headed our way, I found myself in an odd position.  I was actually rooting for the temperature to hit 90.  In fact, I had already decided that it didn’t even have to be an official heat wave for me to make the happy trek to the Creamery – one day of 90-plus degree heat would count. So, last Thursday, I sat in my office compulsively checking for the temperature.  I watched the temperature all day.  I watched the mercury inch slowly up, from 82 to 85, then to 87.  Three more degrees and I was home free!

By 3 p.m. the temperature was up to 88.  But, just as I began anticipating the cold, creamy goodness that awaited me on my way home from work, I tore my eyes away from the computer screen and glanced out the window.  To my horror, I saw dark clouds accumulating; five minutes later, the skies burst forth in a truly spectacular but wholly unwelcome display of thunder, lightening, and driving rain that sent the temperature plummeting back down to 85 in a matter of minutes.

By the time I began packing up my briefcase to go home, we were back down to 81, and the weather weasels were forecasting a weekend of cold rain ahead.  I took one last look at the temperature, clicked my computer off, and sighed wearily.

It’s going to be a long, cold winter.