Monday, July 15, 2013

Sweat, Sweat and Tears

By Deborah Sharp

Drip. Drip. Drip.

That's the sound of me, squeezing out enough sweat to fill a baby pool. It's mid-July in south Florida: Sweltering temperatures; suffocating humidity. All that, and my AC has been AWOL for a full week. The whole unit must be replaced, and our air conditioning guy is so backed up with work orders we had to schedule an appointment almost two weeks out. It's easier to get past the velvet rope at a South Beach nightclub than it is to hire this guy.

I'm not able to work at  home. I'm barely able to think. Just one thought keeps running through my brain, a continuous loop of misery:
I'm SO hot. 
I'm SO hot. 
I'm SO hot . . .

I have another four days to wait. I'm not sure I can make it. (Right now, I've fled to the air-conditioned comfort of a Starbucks). Funny thing is, I grew up in south Florida before air conditioning was as pervasive as it is now. I remember my mother stashing my PJs in the freezer before bedtime, then letting the fan blow over me so I'd fall asleep before my body realized how hot it  was. When we were kids, my brother and I would go to the movie theater downtown just to sit in the air conditioning, no matter what show was playing. My father, from a family of Florida pioneers, would roll in his grave if he knew how soft and spoiled I've become.

Wah, I'm sweaty. Boo-hoo! 

The only saving grace about the soaring temperature? Jokes that answer the question, How HOT is it?
It's so hot I saw a homeless guy on the street with a sign that said Will Work for Shade.
It's so hot I saw a group of Amish girls wearing spaghetti straps and Daisy Dukes.
It's so hot the birds are using pot-holders to pull up worms from the ground.

My father worked on construction sites, as a carpenter. Much of his work was outside under a searing sun. I can't even imagine how hard that and other physical jobs are in this kind of weather: road worker, bricklayer, grass cutter or ditch digger. The most difficult labor I perform is straining for a metaphor, and I still can't manage to concentrate on work. The heat saps my brain power.  It's embarrassing when I imagine the extreme situations other writers have faced. The polar explorers of the early 1900s managed to update their journals, despite frostbite and starvation. Chinese prisoners eke out memoirs in inhuman camps. George Orwell wrote 1984 while he dying of tuberculosis.

How about you? What's the most extreme circumstance you've written under? Or, like me, do you cave when your surroundings are hot, noisy, or just plain uncomfortable?



LynnG said...

I lived one summer in a second floor apartment with no air-conditioning and my leg in a cast - ankle to hip. Not only did I sweat, I also couldn't take a nice cold shower or swim in a pool. And that 2nd floor apartment was brutal.

Still, it didn't seem so bad at the time and I doubt I could do that now. I've grown accustomed to comfort. Today I hid in a corner of Panera Bread and churned out a few words with a frozen caramel slushy thing. Heaven.

Beth Groundwater said...

So, so sorry to hear that your AC is out, Deb! I HATE heat and humidity, which is why I live in the mountains. Love your "It's so hot" jokes, though! ;-)