Jewish World Review August 4, 2005 / 28 Tammuz
Fifty ways to beat the heat
With all the hot air covering the country, and I'm not just talking about the weather, it's definitely time to update this annual list of heat-beaters before we all evaporate:
1. Forget talk radio and 24/7 television news. Switch to the classical station. Or your collection of old swing records. Watch an old movie (preferably one set in a cold climate) instead of The O'Reilly Factor or Hardball. Try not to think about Karl Rove, Charles Schumer, filibusters or the damn Yankees, i.e., those in the American League.
2. Delete all those unwanted e-mails without opening them. Reading them is always a mistake. And under no circumstances reply; it only encourages 'em. When tempted, think of all the time you're about to waste when you could be doing absolutely nothing in air-conditioned comfort, which would be a much more productive use of your time.
3. Recall the lightest, most elegant, interesting dessert you ever had. (I nominate Zabaglione over half a perfect peach.) Or just have a piece of cold watermelon. With a little salt.
4. Make some fresh lemonade. Or as Robert Benchley once advised, get out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini.
5. Think on the pure, crystalline beauty of the Pythagorean Theorem.
6. Don't try to figure out the infield fly rule one more time; just settle back and watch the game. Linger over the replays in slow motion. Don't move too fast yourself.
7. Avoid sit-coms, rock 'n' roll, TV shout shows, arguing politics, worrying about the future or regretting the past. "Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you." Satchel Paige. Epictetus the Stoic may have said something like that, too, but not half so well.
8. Decorate with green, leafy things, but not kudzu.
9. Take siestas; arrange to live in the early morning and after twilight.
10. Don't hurry back, or anywhere else. If you must hurry, do it slowly. "Nothing can be more useful to a man than a determination not to be hurried." Henry David Thoreau. He must have been a Southerner at heart.
11. Park in the shade.
12. Key lime pie.
13. Wear a hat. With a broad brim.
14. Give the kids a nap. Take one yourself.
15. Sit on the front porch. In a swing. Under a fan. Especially if it's glassed-in, air-conditioned, in the shade, and surrounded by cool greenery.
16. Read last January's weather news, with special attention to blizzards and ice storms. Think glaciers.
17. Take a thimble-sized cup of hot soup before supper to whet the appetite.
18. Switch from Beethoven to Mozart, big band to chamber music, red to white wine, gin to tonic, cornbread to beaten biscuits, humor to wit.
19. Go fishing. Early in the day. Without fancy lures, rod 'n' reel, and other impedimenta. Pack a picnic breakfast, choose an unfrequented spot off the beaten path, lie down, breathe deep, and clear the mind. ("Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after." Thoreau again.)
20. Have a tall cold one. With a hot dog. At a minor league ballpark like Ray Winder Field in Little Rock, Ark. See what baseball used to be like and still is. Luxuriate in the nostalgia. Don't get all involved in who's winnng or losing. Just root for the team in the field; it cools passions and avoids partisan attachments, which can grow heated. Luxuriate in the nostalgia.
21. Think tomatoes, the real kind. Like Bradley County pinks. Also peaches, specifically Cresthaven peaches.
22. Wear white and play Great Gatsby to beat the band.
23. Think about exercising.
24. See the movie Dr. Zhivago. Stay to see snowy scenes twice. Come August in these latitudes, Siberia can look like paradise.
25. Iced tea.
26. Contemplate the coming of the next ice age.
27. Read up on the culture of the Eskimo.
28. Plan an expedition to the South Pole. Read a biography of Shackleton.
29. Stock up on watercress and cucumbers.
30. Carry a handkerchief. A big one. A bandana. Maybe two. Mop your brow even when it doesn't need mopping.
31. Walk on the shady side of the street. Whoever designed those treeless parking lots around shopping malls should have to park in one every day in August. Let the punishment fit the crime.
32. Remember Paige's Law No.2: "Step lightly; do not jar the inner harmonies."
33. Read "Gorky Park" or some other detective story set in a cold climate. Or check out Howard Hawks' arctic and antic sci-fi classic, "The Thing From Another World." Rent any old horror movie that makes you shiver/laugh. Listen to Abbott and Costello try to figure out who's on first, and what's on second. (I don't know's on third.)
34. Send the kids to see the grandparents.
35. Grandparents: Take a week off by yourselves. You've already raised your kids.
36. Think what Stockholm must be like. Also Spitsbergen.
37. Go for a walk at dawn, preferably without having to get up at an early hour.
38. Ice cream.
40. Don't fret. Why worry about things till you have to? You may never have to.
41. Cold salads.
42. Wonder about the Laplanders.
43. Go ahead, try the waterslide.
44. Think on not having to put up the Christmas decorations, cook the turkey, or build a roaring fire.
45. Smile in the sure knowledge that the damper on your fireplace is closed.
46. Inspect the refrigerator.
47. Consult the atlas on the location of Novaya Zemlya, the Bering Strait, and penguin population patterns. Study up on the Aurora Borealis.
48. Re-read Jack London's "To Build a Fire."
49. Be nice.
50. Take the columnists with an extra grain of salt.
And this year, as an Extra Added Bonus, as the cereal boxes used to say, here's Tip No. 51: Dinner in a dark, cool Italian restaurant with an old friend who always flatters you. Discuss no event after about 1980. Tell each other the same stories you've told before. (They get better with age.) Be sure to order a half carafe of Chianti with the meal and spumoni afterward, served by a competent waitress who insists you try a sample of whatever you're about to order before making your important decision.
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