Al Batt: I felt as if I were wearing burlap underwear there

Published 8:50 pm Tuesday, June 15, 2021

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Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

It was hot enough to complain about everything.

I’d completed compulsory mechanical work. I’d put a rear end in a recliner.

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The heat had stalled the clock at noon. The hands had become motionless. Hot weather is more of a stick than a carrot. Hot weather bangs us about. People wilted in the sun. Swimming pools boiled. Ice cream trucks and plastic flamingos melted. It was as hot as all get-out.

I felt as if I were wearing burlap underwear. It was hot and uncomfortable. The heat advisory was for extra crispy. It was hotter than the devil’s toenails. Hotter than blue blazes. Hotter than the devil’s underwear. So hot a fire hydrant was chasing a dog. Hotter than hell’s pepper patch. So hot, a dog was chasing a rabbit and they were both walking. Hotter than 40 hells. Hotter than H-E-double-hockey-sticks. It was so hot, people missed complaining about cold weather. Hotter than the hinges on the gate to Hades. As hot as flugens.

Hot enough for you? It’s been worse. At least the humidity isn’t too high. It’s been hotter. The state record of 115°F was set on July 29, 1917, in Beardsley in Big Stone County. It must be 90° in the shade, so stay in the sun. Stay cool. We say these things, but they aren’t helpful. Some comments sound sadistic, especially when accompanied with a fiendish grin as “Cold enough for you?” said on a gelid winter day often is.

All these are as useful as Robin saying, “Holy priceless collection of Etruscan snoods, Batman.”

I must add that the 115°F in Beardsley was the weather showing off and we were taught in the crib that it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.

Minnesotans get most of our hot weather secondhand—in weather reports from elsewhere. That’s why “Hot enough for you?” doesn’t roll off a Minnesotan’s tongue as easily as “Cold enough for you?” does. “Hot enough for you?” asked a friend as we met in an air-conditioned building. “Not until I can replace my microwave oven with the mailbox,” I said.

Our weather is inclined to be disagreeable. We get a stretch of scorching hot weather every 52 or 31 years. It’s fried the state’s gophers in 1936, 1988 and 2021.

Grandma said that every day spent in the blistering sun would warm me one winter’s day. Not all advice from elders is wise.

A hot day can be longer than a country mile. By that, I mean deceptively long. Hot, humid weather leads to sluggish behavior.

My throat was parched and dry. I tried to rid the world of iced tea one glass at a time as I watched my friend fan himself with his hamburger at our shared table. He’d been battered from years of bad news and bad weather, and told me he liked hot weather because the sweat made him look as if he’d been exercising as his doctor had ordered. He figures he’s supposed to be grumpy at his age and hot weather helps him accomplish that.

I’ve experienced torridity elsewhere while traipsing across deserts in Arizona and Israel where helpful individuals told me it was a dry heat. I visited a school at the edge of a Nevada desert whose playground equipment consisted of a teeter-totter, a slide and a swing set. Wearing shorts on a hot slide is more terrifying than any amusement park ride.

Robert Burns wrote the famous words, “The best-laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley.” The flaw in many plans is the weather. It’s here today and here tomorrow. I loaded bags onto a tour bus in Anchorage, Alaska, when the temperature climbed into the 80s on a day that should have hit 63 for a high. A man from the hotel helped me cart the bags. A drop of sweat ran down to the tip of his nose and paused there like an Olympian at the end of a board before diving. He’d moved from Arkansas and grumbled, “I didn’t move to Alaska to sweat.” There is no weather that everyone likes, but at least we don’t have to move to Anchorage to sweat.

I think I could still spend the day baling hay or playing ball under the blazing hot sun as long as several overstaffed ambulances were standing by.

I’ve got to go. I’m on my way to loiter in the frozen food aisle of the grocery store and whine about the cold weather.

Al Batt’s columns appear in the Tribune every Wednesday.