Bugs, Sweat, and Tears

I am not cut out for the heat.

It’s not even so much that I don’t like it (although that’s definitely true) as much as it doesn’t like me. Just looking at a thermometer with a temperature above about 85 degrees makes me break into a sweat — and I don’t mean a glisten or a sheen or a bit of perspiration, but a full-on, pouring-down-your-back (and especially your front, ladies, am I right?) flow of salty, sticky SWEAT. It stings my eyes, it makes my hands unable to swipe the front of my iPhone (and then I cannot obsessively check my email, which is clearly an issue), and people aren’t exactly lining up to purchase my eau de gym socks fragrance at the mall.

First world problem? Yes. Absolutely.

But I still am not cut out for the heat.

Which is not to say that I stay inside all day when it’s hot, hovering in the air-conditioned splendor like a hermit crab, because I do, in fact, venture out – sometimes for things that have to be done (putting out the trash cans) and sometimes for things that need to be done (getting an iced latte). But I sweat like a leaky pig and complain about it (usually in my own head) the whole time.

It’s really not pretty.

The past two days have seen unusually high temperatures here in Western New York. They’d be ungodly just about any time of the year, but were especially unexpected mid-September, after several weeks of lovely, warm-but-not-hot days. And, really, it wasn’t so much the heat as it was the humidity. People joke about places like Vegas and “it’s a dry heat,” but it’s absolutely true. 100 degrees in an arid environment feels infinitely cooler than 80 degrees when the humidity is at 100 percent.

hot day
Yes, I know that where you live, it was over a hundred degrees, and your heat index was almost 200, and there are places on the planet where people would offer their firstborn children to the gods if they could experience just one day of temperatures like these.
I’m not saying any of that isn’t true.
I’m just saying it was damn hot here.

And, good grief, the humidity has been here in full force the last couple of days, like she was ashamed of herself for skipping out on the early September party and decided to make up for it by bingeing and getting sick all over the front seat of the car. GO HOME, HUMIDITY. YOU’RE DRUNK.

As I walked the girls to school on Tuesday morning, we met up with our beloved crossing guard, Mrs. H, at the same time as another family. I could see that Mrs. H felt just as droopy in the extreme temperatures as I did, but she still managed to greet us with her trademark smile. She then said something to all of us about how freakin’ hot it was, to which the other mother replied – before I could get a word out – “Yes, isn’t it just amazing! It feels like you’re all cuddled up in a warm blanket!”

So. Apparently there are those of us who are not cut out for the heat, and those of us who are clinically insane. I’ll give her “warm blanket,” but my blanket was smothering me, not cuddling up, thank you very much.

You know delightful it is, keeping the windows open all summer, allowing the breeze to waft through, eschewing the harsh blast of air conditioning coming through the vents? Yeah. Me neither. As soon as the indoor temperature rises above 73 degrees, we all begin collectively wilting, so our A/C is running from approximately May through September.

Do I love the summer evening air drifting through the trees? Yes, I do. And if I want to be a part of it, I’ll sit outside and enjoy it. But sweating inside the house is simply not an option. This is why air conditioning was invented. And also Frappuccinos.

Realizing that it was likely impossible to teach the dogs how to use the toilet in just one day, I knew I’d have to let them go out back to do their business, but elected not to throw the ball or even let them stay outside very long. Which was probably a wise decision, because less than five minutes after I’d let them out, I went to check on them and found them like this:

hot dog2
Did I mention that I’m covered in fur?

hot dog1
Cannot… keep… tongue… in… mouth…

That evening was the annual back-to-school picnic, and I might have considered not going, but I’d promised that I’d take photos for the yearbook. Plus, I didn’t otherwise have a plan for dinner and we’d already paid for pizza, and at $398 per slice, I was bound and determined that we’d at least make a showing.

Because what’s better on a billion degree evening than eating piping hot slices of pizza outside in the sun?

As we approached the school, I could hear the DJ’s music, but noticed that the playground was suspiciously underpopulated; perhaps we were one of only a few families stupid brave enough to make the trek…? And then I saw everyone, pressed up against the side of the school where the late afternoon sun had mercifully created some shade in which to hide.

We dropped off the brownies we’d made (Wegman’s gluten free, holla!) and the girls got their slices of pizza, then flopped on the ground while they tried to wipe the sweat from their faces and force the food in their mouths. (The snow cones, however, went down without any complaint…) The parents and teachers, on the other hand, were mostly standing – probably because we recognized that the lack of inertia would cause us to permanently dissolve into puddles (and also grass and dirt tend to stick to you when you’re sweating more than Miley Cyrus at a Disney convention) – all with the same glassy-eyed stare. Occasionally, our sense of civility and politeness would take over, and we would actually approach one another, each conversation always beginning with some form of, “SWEET JESUS MARY AND JOSEPH IT IS HOT!”

After melting for thirty minutes, I decided I’d better make good on my promise to take some photos for the yearbook, so I shuffled off to capture the kids in their back-to-school revelry. As I did so, the sweat – which had been just resting there, acting like a little water shield – began freely cascading everywhere, until every single surface of my body was covered. I reminded myself that it could be worse – I could be one of the parents who signed up to actually hand out the pizza (on the blacktop without the merciful cover of the shade by the school), or one of the Cub Scouts volunteers at the folding table under the unyielding sun, or, like, actually living in a location where it’s hot and humid all the time and air conditioning doesn’t exist) – and made myself continue snapping photos of red-faced children who looked like they’d popped water balloons over their heads.

When the kids get the yearbooks next June, just looking at the Back To School spread is going to make everyone spike a fever.

I was lifting up the camera up to take another shot when I felt… something… on my arm. I thought maybe it was a stray hair, so I attempted to brush it off – but that didn’t remove the tickly, skin-prickling feeling. I let go of the camera to more firmly get rid of whatever it was that clung to me, and then noticed that it wasn’t just my arm that was affected… No, both arms, my hands, my knees, my shins, and my face – essentially every single inch of exposed skin – were covered (and when I say covered, I mean covered) with gnats.

hot picnic
Don’t adjust your screen… Those little dots in the background? The ones that look like drops of water or maybe smudges on the camera? Bugs. Gnats. SWARMS OF GNATS, every single one.
See also: the families in the shade pressed up against the school.

The ridiculous heat and humidity had hatched these little devils, and they were had descended upon the school grounds like plagues of locusts. Being very small, they were no match for the coating of sweat that encased me, and, upon flying into me – or upon my walking through them – they became positively glued to my skin. I attempted to rub some of them off, only to have my entire hand covered in little bitty gnat guts.

After managing to remove most of them from my arms, I hurried toward the few areas that seemed bug-free, passing Ella on the way, who looked up at me and said, “Uh, mom, you have all these bugs on your forehead…” Thank you. I’m modeling a new fashion statement. Do you like it?

By the end of the evening, the girls had had a marvelous time in spite of the heat, and as always, it was – truly – nice to hang out with the other school families. I’ve said it before, but I mean it: our school and community are utterly amazing, and we are truly lucky to be a part of it. I just wish Mother Nature wasn’t such a bully.

Today, it is twenty degrees cooler than it was yesterday, and tomorrow is expected to see another twenty degree temperature drop. Sure, the roller coaster is going to get us all sick, but I, for one, will not be sad to see the 90-degree days go.

If you are clinically insane do miss the heat, feel free to come on over. I’ve got plenty of warm blankets for you to cuddle up in.

Which will come in handy, because the A/C will probably be running until at least Columbus Day.


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