Out of the Blue

Chill Out

Some tips to beat the heat, or not

By Deborah Salomon

“Round here jus’ ain’t the place to be, come August,” the old farmer said. “Too damn hot.”

How true. I’m more cool cookie than red hot mama. I get nauseated just thinking about the poor souls left in the Sandhills, pre-AC, after the rich snowbirds flew home, or to Nantucket, or to mountain lodges overlooking frigid lakes. I remember childhood summers spent grudgingly in Greensboro with my grandparents, in the house on Lee Street where my mother was born. All we had were fans, popsicles and the occasional movie at the big theater with an “Air Cooled” banner fluttering above the marquee. Exiting, after we’d sat through the movie twice, was like hitting a wall.

If I were in the Oval Office, the Oval Office would be in Caribou and Florida wouldn’t have been admitted to the union.

At least an August oven is better tolerated elsewhere as summer’s last gasp. Here, suffering extends through September, sometimes later.

Which got me to ruminating on methods, real or imagined, for stayin’ alive minus AC.

Feet first: I remember the old folks sitting on the porch, soaking their feet in round porcelain basins (white, with blue rim and chips aplenty) filled with cold water. Only works up to size 9. Plastic isn’t the same.

Face second: Ever hear of a watermelon facial? Probably not, ’cause I just invented it. Cut a chilled small watermelon in half. Squish the interior of one half with your fingers until mush. Remove makeup, put on a shower cap, lean over and submerge face in mush. Come up to breathe only when absolutely necessary. Repeat until the cool trickles down your neck. Makes a mess, feels great.

Blowin’ in the wind: Find one or two loose, gauzy all-cotton tops and wear them every day. Who cares what people say? Guys, your operative is madras. If men in India don’t know how to stay cool, who does?

Hot to trot: Speaking of India . . . in the Middle East, North Africa and the tropics, folks sip hot drinks to cool off. The heat promotes perspiration, nature’s cooling process. Maybe for Lawrence of Arabia. I’m sticking with club soda and lime.

Peas, please: A bag of frozen peas is malleable enough to tuck anywhere, for a quick cooldown. Try the forehead, nape of neck, inner thighs, small of back. No cauliflower or broccoli. Too spikey.

The Real Thing: Locate some plastic or glass Coke bottles with waists. Fill three quarters full with water and freeze. Lie down; tuck bottles behind bent knees or elbows, maybe under wrists.

Fan-tastic: I am told that stepping out of the shower, dripping wet, buff naked, then standing in front of an electric fan going full blast works wonders. Make sure you lock the door.

Ticket to ride: On the coast of Maine, the surf is cold enough to anesthetize body parts in 45 seconds. Take a plaid jacket because the early maples start turning end of month.

Work on it: Get a job stocking frozen food in a supermarket. Offer to clean out a restaurant walk-in cooler. Enroll in med school; operating rooms are kept at about 60 degrees, year-round.

I’m not sold on mind over matter — especially heat matter — but if these handy dandy ploys fail, you could try closing your eyes and imagining giant snowflakes falling on your face, melting and running off like tears. For me, tears of joy when autumn finally arrives.  PS

Deborah Salomon is a staff writer for PineStraw and The Pilot. She may be reached at debsalomon@nc.rr.com.

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