Summer in the South

By Michael J. Legeros

                  "Tarzan couldn't stand this hot"
                                  - Biloxi Blues

Eighty damn degrees in March!  Even in the Old North State, where
the warm months far outnumber the cold ones, this is an unseason-
ably unusual high.  Much more common is a more gradual rising of
temps.  March is warm but not *warm*.  April is warmer and maybe a
bit muggy.  May is both hot *and* humid, though the molten lava is
still a month (or more) away.  See, Spring in the South serves one
very important function:  it allows for preparation for *Summer* in
the South.  Sure, there are deserts in this wide world.  And trop-
ics.  And subtropics.  But where else-- at least in North America--
are you gonna find a more consistent, more nauseating mix of high
temperatures and high humidity?  So, for those not in the know, be
they temporary attendees or the recently relocated, here's an in-
formal guide to the Hell we Southerners call summer.

   YELLOW HAZE - That stifling, smothering, suffocating Spring
   explosion is the first sure sign of impending warmth.  Wat-
   ery eyes resemble round roadmaps and everyone coughs, from
   persistent post nasal dripping.  Allergy medicine sales
   soar and the car washing biz booms.  On average, expect a
   re-dirtied auto after 14 hours.

   YARD SAILING - Called "yard sales" here.  Card tables
   stacked with stuff; old clothes hanging from tree-tied
   lines; miscellaneous furniture dotting the driveway.  Pri-
   marily an *early* morning activity, as most of the "good"
   stuff is gone by 10.  Bring lots of ones and be ready to
   haggle.  See also:  FLEA MARKETING.

   WARSH - Expect your laundry load to increase by 66 percent
   as sweat-stained shirts, undershirts, and blouses are dis-
   carded at the end of the day.  Same for shorts, pants, and
   other bottoms.  The lone exception to this rule:  staying
   home for the evening, in which case walking around in your
   underwear is acceptable.

   UNTIL YOUR PEE IS CLEAR - Hydration is good.  Cups, glas-
   ses, bottles, fountains, doggie bowls, or the garden hose.

   THE SEARCH FOR SHADE - Temperatures inside a parked car can
   reach 1000 degrees.  Thus, the necessity of positioning Ot-
   to near a tree, overhang, or tall building.  As the sun has
   an annoying habit of changing position in the sky, the pre-
   sence of a sunshade is also required.  Same for a towel to
   cover any easily melted personal items, such as a personal
   CD player.

   TEE SHIRTS AND SWEATERS - Remaining comfortable over the
   course of a single summer day typically requires *two* com-
   plete sets of clothing:  shorts and a tee for travel or
   outdoor activity and a long-sleeved shirt plus pants for
   interior work.  Tip: If you can see your breath, you're
   probably in a movie theater or any room containing computer

   SWIMMING - People with pools are particularly popular in
   the J months.  At least until the outside air temperature
   tops 100.  Look for lakes to be busy, as well as sundry
   streams, ponds, and watering holes.  Even kiddie pools can
   do in a pinch.  Just add lawn chair, drink cooler, and por-
   table television.  You go, Bubba.

   SUNDRESSES - Known to cause collisions with trees, tele-
   phone poles, and parking meters.

   SUPER SOAKERS - Squirt guns come in all shapes, sizes, and
   insanely high prices.  The key to finding the right one
   is finding one with a reservoir large-enough to hold three
   or more ice cubes.  This ensures the proper amount of at-
   tention from the targeted backyard sunbather.  See also:

   STURM UND DRANG - Every third evening sees a short thunder-
   storm.  Find a good parking place and enjoy the show.  In
   Raleigh, try Brentwood Road right there at the Beltline.
   Absobloomin'lutely perfect view.  For added effect, bring a
   scanner, to listen to the many reported lightning strikes.
   Tune to 154.370 (Raleigh Fire 1) and 154.190 (Wake County
   Fire 1).

   SIESTAS - As Kryptonite saps Superman's strength, so does
   the summer sun result in a rapid wearin' down.  The general
   rule of thumb, applicable all season long:  40 minutes of
   napping per 3.5 hours of outdoor activity.  Suitable loca-
   tions include porches, park benches, parked cars (with win-
   dows down, of course), and the upholstered sofa out in the

   NATURE HIKES - The approximate distance around the perime-
   ter of Crabtree Valley Mall, both levels, is 2.31 miles.
   This includes the lingerie sections of all four department

   MEDIUM TO MEDIUM-WELL - A remedy for the inevitable First
   Sunburn of the Season, long-recommended but never personal-
   ly tried (sorry):  soak in a tub full of vinegar.  Either
   white or brown will work.  One warning:  beware the ap-
   proach of strangers bearing hush puppies and/or barbecue
   sauce.  See also: OUCH!

   LIFE'S A BEACH - The urge to coast can be identified by one
   or more of the following symptoms:  hallucinating the sound
   of crashing waves, unusual visual acuity spotting seagulls,
   or arriving at business meetings wearing flip-flops.  Note:
   symptoms may be more pronounced between Labor and Memorial

   ICE CREAM - The preferred food of summer.  That, or chil-
   led watermelon.

   HUNGER, WHAT'S THAT? - The single best side-effect of the
   season, other than the aforementioned head-turning attire
   (author inadvertently walks into traffic at this point):
   an utter loss of appetite in the late afternoon and early
   evening.  See also:  ATTACK OF THE MIDNIGHT MUNCHIES.

   HERMETICALLY SEALED - Repeat after me: people with central
   air are our friends.  If yours is a mere window unit (or,
   gasp, worse), plan to make nightly social calls and/or sug-
   gest sleepovers during the months of July and August.  Memo
   to self:  get girlfriend with central air ASAP.

   FINE WHINE - "How 'bout that heat?"  "It's not the heat,
   it's the humidity."  "Oy, it's so humid!"  "Look, an egg
   frying on the sidewalk!"  "Remind me again why I choose to
   live in North Carolina?"  "Billy Ray, climb out of that re-
   frigerator right now!"

   FOOTWEAR - Bare feet.  Pavement.  Blisters.  'Nuff said.

   EARLY MORNING YARD WORK - Weeding, seeding, raking, hoe-
   ing-- almost any green-thumbed activity is possible in the
   pre-blast furnace hours.  Anything except mowing, that is,
   unless your lawnmower has enough horsepower to both (a.)
   defeat the dew and (b.) properly disturb your neighbors.

   DON'T TOUCH THAT DIAL! - When riding in someone else's car,
   fiddling with the A/C is the quickest way to find yourself
   ejected.  Bring a sweater or just drive your own damn self.
   If truly miserable, imagine riding with the windows *down*.

   CHEAP SUNGLASSES - "Now go out and get yourself some big
   black frames, with the glass so dark they won't even know
   your name.  And the choice is up to you cause they come in
   two classes, Rhinestone shades and..."

   BOY MEETS GRILL - Use oven at your own peril.  See also:

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros


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