Running Hot And Cold


I did my share of bitching and moaning about the cold spring, but that didn’t stop me from complaining about last week’s oppressive heat.

The weather isn’t merely a topic of conversation to me — it’s an opportunity to get out of work and still get paid. I’ve been honing this craft, not coincidentally, since my first job as a caddy at Maidstone Golf Club in East Hampton.

Me: I think I’m suffering from heat stroke.

Eddie the Caddie Master: So, go home.

Me: Will I still get paid?

Eddie: Yeah, with my boot up your butt.

I realized then I had to take it to the next level and I would publicly like to thank Lyme Disease for that opportunity. From the moment I heard the symptoms, I knew this was a disease I had to have. Yes, I was lethargic all the time, then and now. And I used to always be tired, and I’m tired today. And I still require constant naps. The best thing is, no one questioned it. Once it was established you had it, the sky was the limit.

“Mildred, tell the boss my Lyme is acting up today. I need to take it easy.”

“You poor thing. OK. Get well soon. Take the week if you need to.”

I was the boy who screamed “fire” in the crowded theater. As it turned out, I really did get Lyme’s disease, and really did get lethargic, but by then, my bosses had decided I was faking.

The only surefire way to get a day off from work is to suffer from “lady problems.” I know I’m a sucker for it.

“Rick, I won’t be able to make it to work today. I’m having lady problems.”

Me: “OK. Take the day off.”

Her: “Let me tell you the awful symptoms.”

Me: “NO! Take a month off.”

We are working stiffs. We work for the man. We toil all day and, if we’re lucky, we get a bottle of hooch and a mattress for our labor. We signed on for the American Dream and we got Amerika.

I got sucked into a dead-end job that drained my soul and shattered my dreams 20 years ago. (Oops, that was when I started at The Independent.) And that’s when I started exhibiting the symptoms.

I was lethargic. I had a headache. My body ached. I needed a nap (I know, it sounds suspiciously like being hung over). It seemed only fair I get paid to stay home and watch TV and get pizza delivered. To recuperate.

Anyhow, back to the heat. I felt just like I had lady problems, I mean, Lyme Disease: lethargic, tired, body ache, etc.

Here is a scene that can only play out in the Hamptons:

Man: Christ, it is hot.

Wife: Take a dip in the pool, dahling.

Man: It’s too freakin’ hot to go in the pool.

Wife: Last week you said it was too cold.

Man: I have a lady problem!

The whole thing reached a crescendo when my hot, tired self was dragged to the new “in” restaurant, the one where zucchini caviar costs more than caviar caviar.

“What are the specials?” I asked gingerly.

We have gazpacho this evening, the Waitron Person (or whatever the politically correct term is these days) replied.

That, to me, meant either they were serving a Mexican bandit or some Nazi SS guy.

“No sir, it’s cold cucumber soup.”

Oh. I may not be professional chef, but these things I know: There is tomato soup. There is chicken noodle soup. These are your only pure American soups. And they come piping hot with little bags of stale crackers. Let’s face it, cold cucumber soup is salad.

She called it summer soup. “And the fish is today’s catch of the day, Red Snapper.”

“Is the fish served cold?” I asked.

“Oh no sir, it’s cooked in our pretentious wood-burning stove. We get 50 bucks for that charred piece of rubble.”

“But it is summer,” I pointed out. “Shouldn’t it be served cold, with the cucumber?” I opted for the chicken instead. “Is it cold?” I asked. She just glared.

By the way, there isn’t a Red Snapper within 1000 miles of here. If they are catching them on the day boat, they are dropping line off Puerto Rico. But I digress.

All I know is the next time we plan on going out to eat, I’m going to feel really lethargic and get a pizza delivered instead.

Rick Murphy is a six-time winner of the New York Press Association Best Column award as well as the winner of first place awards from the National Newspaper Association and the Suburban Newspaper Association of America, and a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee.

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