Driving into work yesterday morning, the sun – although still low on the eastern horizon – seared my face, the threat of a hundred-degree day taking shape already in the still dawn air, testament that unlike the past couple of summers, this one is shaping up to be a doozy in the Pacific Northwest. I guess that’s payback for a couple of cooler-than-normal summers.
I’ve always ran a bit on the warm side, which is why I despise hot weather. I can’t stand it, despite years spent living in a tropical climate. You’d think me of all people, Mr. I-Was-Born-in-Honolulu, would have acclimated to a little warmth, but nope. I’ve been accused of whining whenever the temperature approaches 80. This is not true. I don’t whine! I might gripe and moan a little, but I certainly never resort to whining. Not meeeeee!!
I realize that my hot-bloodedness is out of the norm, too. Sometimes I’ll have guests over, like my parents, and they will sit around bundled up in sweaters and long pants, shivering, while I’m kicking back in shorts and a t-shirt with the windows open. In November. Even my dear girlfriend will huddle beneath a blanket on the couch while I am sweltering even though the A/C is on and the ceiling fan is running simultaneously. And I know she’s not faking it, because her feet are ice cold. I have no idea how that is even possible! You should see us battle over the thermostat. It’s a friendly little war, mind you, but a war nonetheless. In the summer, it’s set for 70. Tara will switch it to 74 or 75 when I’m not looking, then I’ll turn it down to 72 when she’s not paying attention. Up and down it goes. Our victories are measured in degrees gained or lost.
And that is why THIS drives me crazy:
I don’t know if my employer is trying to save money on the electric bill or whether everybody who works there has cold feet like Tara, but whoever-is-in-charge-of-such-things has the thermostat set 74 degrees in the office. I’m sorry, but 74 does not translate to a comfortable working environment! I’d be much more content with 68 or so myself, but would settle for 71 or 72. I’d been eyeing the thermostat – which is right next to my cubicle, by the way – for weeks, wondering if I should just get up and adjust it lower, but I was new and didn’t want to rock the boat. I finally gathered up enough courage to do so a few days ago, and after carefully peering down the aisle to ensure that nobody was coming, I stealthily crept to the thermostat and pushed the little button with the downward arrow a couple of times, my heart racing in my chest with the thrill of this whole clandestine operation. But instead of being greeted with a welcome rush of cooler air from the overhead vents, I got instead a big, bold message that said SCREEN LOCKED.
My plot foiled by whoever-is-in-charge-of-such-things, all I could do was slink back to my desk and turn up the portable fan I brought in, which is noisy and blows important papers off my desk but at least cools me down somewhat.
All day long I am taunted by the thermostat and the gigantic 74 displayed on the (who knew it was?) LOCKED screen, a constant reminder that I’m dyin’ over here but can’t do a damn thing about it!
Tara, ever the wise one, suggested that I step outside for a minute or two and then come back in the office, positing that the blisteringly hot temperature outside would make the office feel downright chilly in comparison, so I did just that, and what do you know? She was right! Maybe that’s the secret: I’ll have to make lots of trips back and forth to my car, heating up so I can cool down. It may not be the most efficient method of not dyin’, but at least that way I’m not dyin’.
God, I hate summer.
It’s always been my least favorite season. I much prefer the cool, crisp, colorfulness of autumn or winter’s majestic beauty and icy bite. I have, however, had a few really good summers. Just for the fun of it, I thought I’d rank them.
Mark’s 5 Greatest Summers Ever
- Summer of 2011. Last year was amazing! I wasn’t working, but lived comfortably off my weekly unemployment checks and savings. I stayed up as late as I wanted to and slept in as long as I desired. I took a fantastic, solo road trip across the country, visiting some of my old childhood haunts. Self-published my first novel. Oh, and I fell in love, too. Hands down the best summer of my life.
- Summer of 2012. Even though I’m stuck in an office that is too damn hot, this has still been a pretty good summer. For starters, I landed a really cool job. And there have been lots of fun excursions with my girlfriend – trips to the coast, visits to Seattle, hiking and fishing and swimming, farmer’s markets, concerts, and pickle festivals.
- Summer of 1995. My first summer in the Pacific Northwest did not lack in excitement: not only did I have a new city to explore, but my first kid was also born. Now that Rusty has a car and is about to enter his senior year of high school, it’s difficult to remember that he was once a tiny little dark-haired baby, but I remember with fondness the excitement of having a newborn (even though I didn’t know what the hell I was doing). I also had a kick-ass job that paid well and started looking at buying a house.
- Summer of 1983. Even though Hawaii is most people’s idea of Paradise, I was not happy there and had a miserable couple of years in junior high. In the summer of ’83, we moved to Rapid City, South Dakota after my dad received a new Air Force assignment. My last day on the island, I telephoned the bully who had tormented me for years and told him off. Cussing never felt so good! A week after we arrived in SD – it was still SEPTEMBER – it snowed. Man, was I happy!
- Summer of 1969. Ahh, the summer of love. There was the moon landing, and Woodstock, and the not-exactly-insignificant fact that I was born. Granted, I don’t remember much anything, but it was my first summer of life. How could that not be wonderful?!
There you have it, then. Five really good summers! It doesn’t erase the fact that I’m still eager for fall to arrive, but it was a fun jaunt down Memory Lane regardless. What was your most memorable summer?