Quiet Desperation

Place of shelter shouldn’t become place to swelter


Former talk show host Dick Cavett said he saw Groucho Marx on the streets of New York, and told him he was a big fan.

Marx said, “If it gets any hotter, I’m going to need a big fan.”

After 22 years, my air conditioner up and died. I wasn’t thinking. I should have had it checked out in the spring.

Now look at me.

The chickens are laying hard-boiled eggs.

According to “The Old Farmer’s Almanac,” the Dog Days of summer began on July 3, and they will end on August 20. They are called the Dog Days because they coincide with the sunrise rising of the Dog Star, Sirius.

Are you Sirius?

I’m sorry. It’s hard to be the good humor man when it’s 88 in the shade. In my bedroom. I’m not kidding.

I had to take a number when my air conditioner quit, and my number still hasn’t been called yet.

I have seen worse: I lived in Phoenix for two years.

I had an uncovered parking space at my apartment building. I had an uncovered parking space at Arizona State, where I taught drawing in a four-story building that was 40 degrees cooler than the outside temperature.

Leaving the building was a shock. Getting in my car was a shock.

Leaving Arizona was the second best thing I have ever done.

During his monologue, Johnny Carson would say, “It was so hot today ...” and the audience would shout, “How hot was it?”

The jokes were never that hot.

I lived in Los Angeles, and it could get hot there too, often during the period of the “Santa Ana Winds,” most common from October through March, when other parts of the country are in the deep freeze.

I have a two-story house. The second floor is unbearable, the first floor is tolerable, and the unfinished basement is the most comfortable area in the building.

Why didn’t they put the basement on the second floor, and the second floor in the basement?

Harry has been giving me dirty looks. Dachshunds are not designed for temperatures like this, even though there is a common sobriquet about a dachshund’s physique that implies otherwise.

As a writer, I have tried to imagine how authors who lived in the South were able to persevere in the heat and humidity.

William Faulkner was born in Mississippi and he died in Mississippi, and in between he became one of America’s most celebrated writers in Southern literature.

Is there a better six-word story than the title of one of Tennessee Williams’s plays, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” for evoking a sultry summer day?

Popsicles and icicles. Fireflies and drive-ins on Friday night. Poison ivy and heatstrokes.

Like every other kid, I looked forward to summer vacation. Now I look forward to a vacation from summer.

Give me late September. Now.

I’m not the kind of person who will complain when it’s 10 degrees outside and snow is over Harry’s head. Not me.

I have done a complete 180 when it comes to weather.

As I write this, my back is sticking to the chair, and rivulets of moisture are running down my similes.

And my sense of humor melted an hour ago.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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