It’s in the mid 90s on a Friday afternoon and the bus arrives not a minute too soon. With AC it’s cool inside. Most passengers dress minimally: cutoffs, skirts, sandals, sun hats and lipstick. Others (men) wear long pants and sleeves – one has on a fleece pullover for some godforsaken reason.
The heat makes me more cantankerous. Judgmental. Impatient. Sentences become more exhausting to write. I think of short words. Pithy comments. Popsicles.
In brown lots along the road weeds are wilting in the heat, taking the day off from growing. A lone crow perches on the grass in the shade of a tree. Motionless. At the next stop, a guy in a dress pullover steps aboard with a little dog. They had to run half a block to catch the bus and the short-legged schnauzer is panting hard, his tongue rolling in and out like a paper party whistle.
Walking west on Columbia Blvd, vehicles of all sizes blast by at 50 mph – raising heat waves from the pavement that hit me flush in the face. Bright sunlight reflects off chrome and windshields making me squint.
At Woodlawn Park, a couple with two young girls in dresses unload sacks of groceries in the shade of a big tree. It’s a birthday party. They have soda, ice, hotdogs, chips, side dishes, cake and, most important, water balloons – which almost makes me stick around.
But what I really want is to get into the water fountain where kids are getting soaked. I wish to be soaked as well. Fully, blissfully drenched. But I am older now. And I have promises to keep and more stops to make.
Farther down the line, Geoffrey and I get off the bus in front of Slim’s, a bar that beckons us inside. It’s a dark cave with a few souls sipping drinks and talking softly. Nobody moves too fast. After a cold brew, we climb off our bar stools and venture back out into the blast furnace.
Down the street Geoffrey and I duck into Vinyl Resting Place. We talk with Toby, the store owner, about the weather and what people are listening to these days. I ask what music he considers “hot.” Without missing a beat he says, “Louis Armstrong.” Cool choice.
2 thoughts on “Hot Times”
I am sitting in Punta Gorda (90F+) leaving for Peru tomorrow….reading this makes me feel better. Well done – you open the window with this blips – and I appreciate it. I see a book in the future…you’re writing it now.
This takes me back. Grad school in the 70’s, summertime in the midwest. Sweat dripping off everything, rolling fields, kids at play, beer and vinyl for grownups. I didn’t own a car. That would take another decade. The only thing missing … the buzz of mosquitos.