Reality Truck: Ain't No Cure for the Summertime Blues
April 26, 2000
Fever when you kiss me Fever when you hold me tight Fever in the morning Fever all through the night. J. Davenport and E. CooleyIt's hard to sustain a meaningful relationship when you don't have central air. In fact, I think my attitude towards romance during the recent heat wave could best be summed up in three little words: Get OFF me.My personality in general is pretty much climate controlled. Normally, I'm just a little bluebird of happiness -- spreading cheer and goodwill wherever I go -- as long as the thermometer stays somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees. Any colder, any hotter, and I can get very fussy. That's my new word. I've noticed it gets babies out of all manner of trouble (including spitting up directly on another human being). So I'm appropriating it.And as unpleasant as I can be to perfect strangers when I'm out of sorts, it's the ones I hold near and dear to my heart who are really made to pay. Summertime boyfriends, for example, are the most expendable creatures God ever invented. It's never a reflection of whether or not I have any genuine feeling for them (because once in a while, I do), it's more an attitude of, break up/stay together, I don't care, it'll be cooler here without you.Things that might not bother me (much) if I was more comfortable and less fussy really get to me during temperature extremes. When I'm too cold, I get really depressed. At some point every winter, I just crawl under the electric blanket and stay there till the spring thaw. I define this as passive unhappiness. When I'm too hot on the other hand, I get just plain mean. In the summer, I make it a policy never to suffer alone. There's a reason the murder rate goes up in August.I remember the year I got engaged was the hottest summer we'd had around here in decades. I think the relationship might've survived if I'd had air conditioning at the time. As it is, I'm just glad we didn't kill each other.As my friends Linda and Susan reminded me over dinner the other night though, I do nothing but bitch about the cold and snow and shorter days. And they're right. All winter long, all I could think of was tan, young, shirtless men in cutoffs and hiking boots. I was fantasizing about fun in the sun, backyard barbecues, poolside frolicking, and increased opportunities for nudity. I selectively forgot all about poison ivy and sunburn in those hard to reach areas.Now reality has set in. And the reality is those tan, young shirtless men in cutoffs and hiking boots SWEAT. A lot. As a non-sweater myself (it runs in my family, on my mother's side), the whole thing kind of offends my petite-flower nature. And if you're in a relationship, odds are at some point, you're going to be sweated on. God, talk about feeling "not so fresh."Thank heavens I can think of at least one advantage to summer romance, such as having taste-testers available at all times. Like for example -- thanks to the recent heat wave -- my refrigerator is broken right now. So one thing I've learned is, some foods spoil faster than others. Being in a relationship means always being able to say, "here honey, smell this." And if you've ever accidentally opened a container of fermented gazpacho, you know what I'm saying.But for every pro, there's a con -- like heat-induced torpor. If I had a nickel for every time some guy called me to postpone a date because they're too tired to go out, well, I could afford to buy me some better boyfriends. In fact, one young man (obviously crazy from the heat) called me just a few weeks ago pleading fatigue and asking if we could actually go out on a night other than the one he'd been assigned several days before.We're not talking death or dismemberment here -- two perfectly legitimate reasons for canceling a date -- so I think my response was something along the lines of no. I may have elaborated with the fact that if I wanted to be treated like this I'd just go back to dating musicians.