Boiling Over in South Louisiana

Earlier this year, I wrote a column complaining a little about the unusually long, cold winter we were having here in South Louisiana.

Please forgive my idiocy.

As I watched another jogger burst into flame this afternoon as he ran by our home, I pondered the proper way to describe the heat we have endured this summer. Our local television meteorologist uses the term “unseasonably warm” to describe the current conditions here. OK, pinhead, during what season would temperatures like this be normal, huh?

I found out that this particular weatherman is a recent migrant from the planet Mercury whose hobbies include scuba diving in hot asphalt and beer bonging habanero salsa.

Yes, it is hot here. Not hot as in “let’s go swimming” hot. More like face-of-the-sun hot. Perhaps even—dare I say—too-hot-to-fish hot.

The bad thing about heat waves like this one is that it prevents engaging in even some of the more traditional hot weather activities. Take running through yard sprinklers. There is nothing better than darting through a cold water stream to invigorate you on a sunny, summer day. When the thermometer peaks where it has this year, though, running through a sprinkler is like having The Rug Doctor do a shag carpet steam cleaning on your back.

Swimming during August on the Gulf Coast is not only no fun at all, but hazardous as well. The latest fad down here is converting chlorinated swimming pools to saltwater. Silly me, I thought it was for ease of maintenance. Instead, I found out that when the mercury rises to its current obscene level, saltwater pools double as monster pots for shrimp and crawfish boils. (This would indeed justify my crazy neighbor’s obsession with dumping crab boil into his pool filter housing, though I have told my wife to avoid letting the kids go there to swim without one of us to accompany them.)

Unfortunately, the psychological impact of the heat is exacerbated by all the yahoos who wander around in it. Even worse, there is a growing contingent of carpetbaggers here in the sunny South—people who believe 47°F constitutes a warm spring day—that feel it necessary to remind us natives that yes, it is quite warm outside. (Yankees always defend themselves as smarter than their Southern counterparts, yet they complain about the heat. Smart Southerners typically don’t hear these complaints however, as they usually are bright enough to find the nearest air-conditioned building in which to lie motionless during the daylight hours.)

Since I am a benevolent man, and since I work with quite a few individuals birthed north of the Mason-Dixon Line, I felt it incumbent to compile a few tips for my Yankee friends to ensure they survive the South Louisiana sauna:
  1. For those that have yet to move down here permanently, household and vehicle air conditioning is not a convenience or an option. It is a necessity. There is nothing more pitiful than watching a former citizen of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula sitting in front of an open freezer in his underwear, all because he felt he could “tough it out” through the weekend to avoid paying his A/C repair man overtime fees.
  2. Think what you want about the way we talk and move down here, but guess what! We aren’t the ones sweating like a beer bottle on the back porch. You call it slow. We call it cool.
  3. Same goes for volume. The louder you speak, the hotter you get. And considering that most of the residents down here can’t interpret dialects from most anywhere north of Little Rock (with the exception of southwestern Missouri and only because I have relatives there and have learned to interpret their twang), do yourself and us a favor and stay quiet.
  4. You might want to think twice before deciding to lay out to soak up a good tan. Such does not exist down here. There are two skin tones associated with the Southern sun: natural/normal and roasted cranberry. And if you think being without air conditioning is tough, think again.
To my friends from the frigid North, I hope that these suggestions help you weather the weather until we get that first cool front to bring the temperatures down below 94°, typically some time around Christmas. To my brothers and sisters of the God-blessed sunny South, I ask you to take up the cause of charity this summer and be on the lookout for overheating Yankees. They should be easy to spot, typically outfitted in muscle shirts, black socks, and sandals and driving a hybrid car with all the windows rolled down. Who knows? Maybe they can return the favor if I ever go on a bender and accept a job assignment in Chicago.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go check on my Yankee friend. His air conditioner went out yesterday, and I am having a heck of a time keeping him out of my freezer.


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