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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

The cat is stretched out on the blade of the ceiling fan, revolving in lazy circles in the breeze, one paw hanging over the side like a rudder.

Below, the dog is sprawled in the recliner with an ice pack on his forehead, sipping iced tea through a bendy straw. He’s a black Lab. He’ll dive quite happily into a frost-covered lake on a crisp fall morning, but when the temperature hits 80, he goes into hibernation and requires hourly rations of crushed ice and chicken flavored sports drinks. I don’t want to say he’s spoiled, but I have the only refrigerator with a doggie door. I won’t mention his other favorite snack food, but there’s also a doggie door on the litterbox.

Meanwhile, at my computer, sweat has dripped down my chest, spattered on the keyboard like afternoon in a rainforest, and shorted out the machine. A parched mosquito with a sweatband handed me an IOU for a nibble on a body part to be named later. Outside, earthworms have brought in power drills to make holes in the topsoil on my car.

The teenagers poured themselves through the doorway, swooned into a restless pile of melted flesh and weary boredom and announced, “It’s hot.” Hot is a two syllable word with the second half drowning in perspiration and misery.

These are the same kids that were clustered around the thermostat last winter begging to turn up the heat so their fingers would thaw enough to work video game controllers.

Back then I was the "bad parent" because I just said NO to indoor fire barrels. Now I'm the bad guy because I don't allow freezer burn as a weapon in the battle against sweat. These guys hated it when Spring brought plagues of honeysuckle and rosebuds and Autumn swept in hordes of muscadines. They've got a whine for all seasons.

So now it’s hot. Why didn’t I noticed it before? It amazes me how that fact escaped Reuters, CNN, Fox News, and the local paparazzi. Our smalltown presses don’t miss any news flash from ice cream truck fraud to elevator overpopulation.

I decided to give him a call.

“Jay, the teenagers say it’s hot.”

I heard a noise like a straw passing the speed limit sign in Margaritaville. “I’ll get right on that story as soon as I finish my, um, column.”

“See that you do. Somebody has to alert people to turn on their window fans. You could be the Paul Revere of our times. One if it’s spring, two if it’s summer.”

“Right. In the meantime teach those kids to appreciate the important things in life. Like those little first aid packs that get cold when you bust the bubble inside.”

I hung up. I would cook supper, but I’ve been waiting until the temperature dropped. We haven't eaten since that day in March when a UPS truck delivered a load of chocolate covered pretzels to the wrong address.

With an oven that goes from Warm to Controlled Burn in less than ten seconds, I don’t like to stoke the flames just for the simple act of eating. During the summer, we boost the economy by dining out at any local establishment that boasts a working air conditioner.

I’ve eaten so much pizza lately, my navel has turned into a slice of pepperoni. I’ve had so many tacos, I’ve begun to judge local cattle by their weight in ground beef. And I’ve been eyeing the no-expiration-date sausage dogs at the local 7-11 store.

Meanwhile I'm counting down the days until school starts. Both boys take classes at the community college across town. Let the dean of Robotics decide what the temperature will be. In the meantime, the Labrador has a dandy diversion planned. He's packed the car for the beach. I have just enough time to grab a towel before he backs down the driveway.

And I can tell by the way his ears are waving in the breeze. that he's got the air conditioner turned on to chili dog.

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