How did we lay on the beach in the hot sun for hours on end when we were young? How did we never notice the heat when we were kids? I was only aware of the heat when I heard my mother and grandmother complain. The only place they wanted to be on a sweltering Long Island day was on my grandmother’s screened-in front porch, in the shade of a huge maple tree that shaded half the front yard. They drank ice tea by the gallon and sent us kids to the freezer to fetch bags of frozen peas, which they would lay on the back of their necks in an endless effort to lower their body temperature.
I have long been suspicious that the Civil War might never have really occurred. Soldiers in woolen uniforms in the summer heat of Virginia or farther south? I think it would be impossible to think, let alone aim a gun. Wearing wool on the East Coast in the summertime is one of the lesser known rings of Dante’s Inferno.
I remember the mothers in my family sitting around the kiddie pool in lawn chairs with their feet in the water while wet, whiny children climbed all over them. We could all have Oreos and Coke for lunch and dinner because the mothers were too hot to care. If we fought, they threw whatever was handy at us, a shoe, a rock, a Coke bottle, anything that could bounce off our heads would make us stop fighting. Apparently, there is a level of swelter where it is too hot to engage in any positive parenting. It comes right after the ‘it’s too hot to be politically correct’ level.
“Bobby, it’s too hot. Stop stuffing marbles up your brother’s nose or I swear I’m gonna get out of this lawn chair and beat you to death with it.”
“But I’m bored!”
“Go inside and get a board game and bring it outside and I’ll play it with you.”
“But Mom, we’ve lost all the pieces to all the board games!”
“Fine, call your friend Jimmy and go fishing.”
“Jimmy went to Florida with his parents for the summer, Mom!”
“Okay fine, ride your bike.”
“The chain came off last summer and Dad hasn’t put it back on yet!”
“Alright Bobby, go to the garage, get the house paint and paint the back of the house.”
“Really Mom? Awesome!”
“Was that a good idea Carol? Letting Bobby paint the house? Big Bob is gonna kill you when he gets home.”
“Then he should have fixed the bike last summer, Mom.”
“Okay, it’s too hot to argue, Carol, and we’re low on ice. I’ll go in and get more.”(Mom returns)
“What’s this, Mom?”
“You’re out of ice, Carol. I brought you a frozen pork tenderloin and I have a bag of frozen vegetable medley. I figured you’d prefer the tenderloin cuz you can hit the kids with it.”
“I think that might be considered child abuse, but I understand the judges knock off one year for every degree above ninety.”
“Sounds fair enough. Just remember the old Irish saying ‘there’s a time and a place for assault and battery.’”
“Where’s Peggy, Mom? I can’t imagine being pregnant in this heat.”
“Your sister is inside with her head in the freezer.”
“Sounds wonderful. I get the freezer next!”