Okay. It is effin hot.
I don’t know if a week qualifies as a heat wave, but I feel like I’m stuck in somebody’s sweaty armpit here and I am decidedly displeased about it. I am sitting, sprawling, rather, on our living room couch in a tank top and jersey skirt, on my third glass of water for the evening, wishing that I could look out the window and be treated to one of the ice-storm scenes from The Day After Tomorrow. Taylor has already gone to bed. HE has spent the day sitting, zombielike, in front of the fan, his jaw lolling open in an expression of disbelief. Every once in awhile he’ll rouse himself slowly, leave the house to do some sort of chore, and return as though he has just crossed the Nairobi in a parka. When he went to bed, he took the fan with him, and so now I’m at a loss as to how to beat the heat.
When I was younger, I tried to turn 90+ temperatures into a game.
At that point, my family owned a hefty white Astro van to shuttle our family from place to place. In the summers the back seat could reach boiling temperatures, but as a seven year old who couldn’t reach the air conditioner, I was left with few options. One day, my cousin Kelly and I decided to make the best of an uncomfortable situation.
We were sitting in the back seat while my mother ran errands. The eventual stop, I think, was going to be the Aquatic center, and so we sat in the back seat in goggles and swim suits, ready to go.
“It’s hot,” I told Kelly. “I feel like I’m sweating. Am I sweating?”
“Not really,” she said, examining my face. I swept a hand across my forehead.
“Are you sweating?” I asked her.
I waited, trying to feel the sweat pop out on my forehead.
“Have you ever had a bead of sweat?” I asked my cousin. I tended, between the two of us, to do most of the talking and question asking. “In movies people always have beads of sweat, and I don’t think I’ve ever had one.”
“I’ve sweated a lot before,” Kelly said.
“Yeah, but, like, a bead?”
“I don’t know. What’s a bead of sweat?”
“It’s like a big drop, like a tear, but it’s sweat.”
“In your armpit?” Kelly glanced at her sides with a look of mild disgust.
“No, right…here.” I pointed delicately at my temple. “When it’s really hot or when people do a lot of work or when they’re really nervous they get a bead of sweat.”
I was really stuck on the bead thing. I concentrated on my temple. Nothing was happening. I stole a look at my cousin. She didn’t seem to be sweating excessively either, which seemed mildly impossible, as I was fairly sure it was a kabillion degrees. It was the hottest it had ever been, in Oregon at least. Possibly in the United States. I wasn’t really sure about the rest of the world. I had heard about some pretty hot places.
“Hey, let’s have a contest,” I said. “Whoever has a bead of sweat first wins.”
“How can we see?” Kelly asked. She was a pretty straightforward kid.
“You watch me, and I’ll watch you.”
We proceeded to stare at each other. My mother got back in the care, took a glance back at us, and started driving to our next destination. The heat seemed unbearable.
“Any sweat yet?” I asked.
“Well,” Kelly pressed her lips together. “You’re sweating.”
“Yeah, but is it like a bead of sweat? It’s gotta be a bead.” I resisted the urge to feel my temple. Any slight touch might smear whatever bead may have started.
“I don’t think it’s a bead. Do I have a bead?”
“Nooo. Not yet. You’re not even really sweating.”
“Yeah, I am.” Kelly scrubbed her palm across her forehead. She was obviously not as concerned as I was about compromising the integrity of the bead.
“No, you’re not. I’m really sweating.”
“I am too.” Kelly’s mouth twisted into an incredulous frown. “I’m sweating a lot.”
“You’re not.” I told her. Being a year older than Kelly made me more of an authority on most things, I was pretty sure about that. “Lookit me. See how the sweat is beading on my forehead?”
“But it’s not beading.” Kelly said resolutely.
I frowned now. I was beginning to think that Kelly was purposefully throwing this competition. It was so hot, I must have beads of sweat on my forehead. Tons of them. I could feel it. I sort of wished I had a camera, so I could take a picture of myself, grimacing toughly like Bruce Willis with the sweat of an action hero glistening on my brow. She just wanted to win because she wasn’t sweating as much as I was. Couldn’t sweat as much as I could.
“Mom,” I said, appealing to the highest authority. “Do I have a bead of sweat on my forehead?”
“I told you, you don’t,” Kelly piped up.
“What?” Mom clicked on the turn signal. “Sweat?”
“A bead of sweat. Look. Look, Mom. Lookit.”
“Uhh. Well. It’s really hot, so I’m sure we’re all sweating,” my mother stated diplomatically. This was not an acceptable answer. I resisted the urge to wipe my forehead, for fear of mussing all the beautiful sweat beads springing there. “We’ll get to the pool soon,” Mom continued, by way of distraction.
“You don’t have a bead of sweat,” Kelly restated.
On a sudden urge my hand darted upwards and swept across my temple, and I instantly regretted it, but my hand came away clean.
“Oh,” I said. “I’m barely even sweating at all.”
Kelly pursed her lips.
The car turned, unexpectedly, into the Baskin Robbins parking lot.
“It’s hot enough,” Mom said, “that I think we should stop here.”
In Kelly’s and my momentary insanity at this turn of events we forgot our competition entirely.
Right now I would do just about anything to be distracted from the heat. Sticking my head in the freezer. Cold showers. Anything.