Keeping My Cool

I never could take the heat. When my friends wanted to play sports in the Summer, I'd always seek shade. When we'd go in one of their houses for some iced tea, or to check out a video game, I never wanted to leave the air conditioning. My parents always got by on oscillating fans somehow, and the biggest additions to their house over the years in the interest of keeping cool have been a ceiling fan in the living room and a skylight in the kitchen. Some days it just doesn't cut it. Ironically, the nights are often worse, because when it's cool outside, the house has all this heat stored from the day time. And in the Winter they crank up the heat because they're always cold. Basically, hanging out in the basement or standing in front of an open freezer are the only options to truly stay cold.

At a barbecue for a friends' kid's birthday party on Saturday, we had the luxury of tents to sit under. Even that and a few cool beers did little to help, but there was a breeze. I was envious of the small kids playing in the pool, and the birthday girl's father, who was the only big kid unashamedly splashing around in there with them. It's too bad a swimsuit isn't a good look for me.

On Sunday, I lucked out in that my band went first at the parade. We only had one guy spray us with a hose as we walked down the street, but I generally prefer they don't do that since it messes up our music and uniforms. It wasn't that hot in the morning, and I took a nap until it cooled off enough to head to another barbecue. One lady commented on the fact that I'd worn jeans, but shorts don't look any better on me than a swimsuit. When a wiffle ball game was announced, I was two beers in and not thinking about being a sweaty b*st*rd. Fortunately, there was no running involved, simply bases measured by distance. If you hit it past a fire hydrant, that was a single. Past the next tree was a double, and so on. I got a few hits but no runs, and soon enough was ready to cool down.

After the sun set, it was nice, if a little buggy. We gathered around a fire pit that proved too hot, so we kept our distance. I'd switched from beer to water, but clearly my judgment was still impaired when my inner Beavis told me it would be cool to throw the water bottle on the fire. My friend quickly fished out the remains, which had shriveled and melted in record time. It wasn't a cool move on my part, with realizations in hindsight that breathing in melted plastic probably would not be good.

Monday found me fulfilling a promise to my dad that we'd take care of his lot. Overstimulated from a busy weekend, I was up early, before the heat struck. Our own lawn at home was dry from lack of rain, and didn't need to be mowed. The lot was in similar shape, save for a few shady spots near our garage where grass prospered. I made short work of it and the hedge, and with sweat dripping was ready to go home. The old man needed another 15 minutes, continuing to dig out roots and trim fig trees and other remarkable feats for a man of 80. Still, he was dejected on the way home, saying he was “shot” and couldn't do anything anymore. I reminded him of his age, the fact that it was around 100 degrees outside, and that he kept working after I was ready to pack it in. “That's not normal,” he insisted, saying he didn't do more work than I did. Sometimes, when I feel like I don't live up to his expectations, I should remember that he doesn't live up to his own expectations, because he's setting them too high. I absolutely believe in aiming higher to push oneself, but it's easy to feel defeated if you forget after the fact that you've done so. For example, if I try to run 7 miles in an hour and it takes me 65 minutes, I need to remember that I barely did more than 5 miles in that same time a few years ago. One must measure goals against past performance, as well as other factors such as age, and heat.

I'll be glad to be back in my air conditioned office this week, even if I have a lot of work piled up. I'm going to set realistic goals and subdivide. If there are 16 things to do, I'm not going to do them all in one day, but I might do them all in four or less. It's important to keep my cool, mentally, emotionally, and physically. It's too hot not to do so.


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