It’s a Million Degrees Outside …

… That’s just an estimate, of course. A more accurate number would be somewhere around 90-something, with a heat index of 100-something. In other words: It’s hot, no matter how you measure it, and at the end of the day, we’re all on the verge of baking in that masterful oven known as the Great Outdoors.

Some of you might be enjoying the ridiculously hot summer sun, but if you’re like me and most of the other millions of perpetually disgruntled Americans, you have found this to be a perfect opportunity to complain about the weather. What else is there to think about? The surface of the Sun is 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit and it could be a winter destination.

We’ve all heard the how-tos on how to survive a heat wave – drink lots of water, don’t stay outside too long, yadda yadda yadda – but to truly “survive” this scorching excuse for an annual season, I feel it’s in our best interests to view the Louisiana summer in a new light – and I don’t mean the blinding light of the outlandish sun rays.

Just to give you an idea of how much time I spend outdoors: I walk to and from my car to go to work. Then I have to go to lunch and home again. I also have to walk my dog. All in all, I’m outside for less than an hour every day. I realize that’s not a very long amount of time in the large scheme of things, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to strangle everyone in my path after I’ve been in the heat.

To prevent that from happening, I’ve decided to kick back in my air-conditioned office and consider the various ways that a stifling heat wave can add quality to all our lives.

  • It gives us something to talk about. What better way to kick-start a conversation than to bellyache about the thick, suffocating heat that has a stranglehold on all of us? Talking about the weather doesn’t make for an original conversation-starter, but it’s better than nothing.
  • It unites the masses. Over the past couple of months I have come in from the heat and announced to people nearby that it’s really hot. You know, just in case they didn’t notice. Any time I’ve said, “man, it’s hot,” all the people nearby have nodded and grumbled in agreement. It’s not often that a group of diverse individuals can come to complete 100 percent agreement about something. Politicians should forget about the issues of the day and just go around talking about how hot it is. That’s how you become a uniter and not a divider.
  • It gives us an excuse to eat ice cream. Not that I need one.
  • It provides an easy excuse for utter laziness that secretly exists throughout all seasons. In fall, winter or spring, we have to come up with really elaborate excuses for avoiding things like yard work or exercise. But during a summer heat wave, we can blame the weather. Just last week I thought about going for a jog but then I decided it was way too hot. I think about going for jogs in the fall, winter and spring, but during those seasons I usually have to spend a lot more time rationalizing my reasons for staying on the couch instead. Maybe in the cooler months I should kick up my thermostat to ninety-five degrees so I’ll be compelled to go outside in the natural air conditioning. But I’d probably just wind up bringing the couch with me.
  • It gives us a reason to go outside and cook stuff while drinking beer. What better time to hang out by a smoldering grill and drink dehydrating beverages than a sweltering heat wave?

Now that we all have a healthy appreciation for the summer sun, I would like to take this opportunity to send my condolences to those who have to spend more than an hour outside every day. May you rest well when you reach air conditioning. May you always have full bottles of water, and may you not want to strangle anyone in your path.

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This first appeared as a Last Word column in the August issue of Thrive. 

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