By BOB WIRE
It’s just after supper on a weeknight in early August. I’m sitting here in my oldest (read: thinnest) skivvies, swigging from an ice-cold bottle of Mirror Pond. A cheap oscillating fan is lazily sweeping back and forth across a large block of ice I’ve placed in a mixing bowl on my desk, and a bandolier of cold PBR’s is slung across my sweaty chest.
I’m waiting for the sun to go down.
I like it hot, but damn, man, I could use a break. Here in Missoula we’ve endured several weeks of temps in the 90’s, a few days even threatening to hit 100. This morning I saw a guy disguised as a fire hydrant hanging around the dog park. The forecasters are seeing no end in sight, and I’m looking forward to cooking my Thanksgiving turkey this year simply by letting it sit in the driveway for a few hours.
But you know what’s really becoming hard to take? It ain’t the heat, it ain’t the smoke.
It’s all the bitching and moaning.
Everywhere I go in Missoula, whether I’m buying gas for my hybrid Hummer, stopping by the hardware store for a carbide blade to saw off this court-ordered ankle bracelet, or popping in to the library to borrow some Mantovani CDs, people are just pissy. Cashiers, bartenders, and others who have to tolerate the general public have noticed it too.
“Man, if one more dickweed comes into my office and asks me ‘is it hot enough for ya,’ I’m gonna put my foot so far up his ass, when he brushes his teeth he’ll be tying my shoe,” said Missoula Mayor John Engen, when I asked him if it was hot enough for him.
Just kidding. John would never say anything like that. But I would.
So, yeah, it’s hot, we’re all cranky, global warming jokes are wearing thinner than my underpants, and everyone’s looking for relief. I’ve got a few suggestions.
Like most people I know, we don’t have central air conditioning, or even a window unit. In Missoula you might use that shit for just a few weeks every year. Hardly worth the expense and upkeep, in my book.
So we do the “Texas style” home cooling, which involves keeping all windows and drapes open all night, then shutting everything up in the morning, sealing in all that delicious, cool night air. It smells of dead moths and deer farts, but it works. First time I tried it I shut everything too tight, and it sealed in the darkness, too. Couldn’t see shit all day. Scared the crap out of everybody.
But now we’ve got the system down, and I spend a good 20 minutes each day running around cranking open (or cranking closed) windows, and opening (or closing) the curtains. It’s a tremendous pain in the ass, but when I kick back on the couch after supper, and the inside temp is nearly a full degree cooler than without the Texas Method, I tell myself, what a waste of time. Instead of cranking windows, I could have been cranking one out.
Last weekend was my daughter Speaker’s birthday, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to turn on the oven to bake her a cake. So we bought an ice cream cake at Safeway (after standing in the frozen dessert aisle for 35 minutes with all the glass doors open), and sang Happy Birthday to her in the Subaru, eating our cake with the air conditioner running full blast. I made sure to video tape the scene so she’d have something to show her therapist in 20 years.
Hanging out in the frozen food aisle at the grocery store is refreshing, but temporary.
Something else you could do is choose the largest air-conditioned box store out on North Reserve, like Lowe’s. Go all the way back to the far corner and find some obscure little item, then return to the front of the store and ask a worker if they have any of them. The worker will then spend a good 20 minutes trekking back to where you found the thing, and when he returns, just shake your head and say you wanted it in chrome. If what he brings you is chrome, say plaid. Try it with my buddy Jeff at Lowe’s. He likes the action.
I suppose you could cruise all over town, hanging out in one air-cooled establishment or another, but most of us like to do our beer drinking and complaining at home. So here are a few home style tips to keep that tea kettle from whistling.
The liberal and creative use of Gold Bond™ Powder is, as most of you know, an iron-clad part of my routine. I mean, when it’s so hot and humid out that your underwear is making its own gravy, Gold Bond may be the only thing that keeps you from losing your shit behind the wheel and running down a lollygagging pedestrian who’s impeding your trip to the liquor store.
Start your day the Bob Wire way: After your first shower, lay a tarp out on the kitchen floor. Sprinkle it heavily with Gold Bond Triple Medicated, and then stop, drop, and roll, and keep flopping around until you look like a catfish filet ready for the fryer. The Green Machine will work all day long, and when the prickly heat starts to build up below the equator, you’ll be enjoying the sensation of a million icy little fingers tickling your boys.
[Scientific Side Note: I’m on my fourth bottle of Mirror Pond now, the PBR bandolier has been replaced with a crude shirt made entirely of fudgesicles, and I am feeling cool and comfortable for the first time today. My experiment is a success.]
As I mentioned earlier, finding ways to prepare meals without using the oven is a good way to keep from raising that indoor temperature. It’s also a good way to get really sick of baloney. If I see another cold cut platter, I may think I’m touring with Spinal Tap. I am a carnivore, so I need my meat.
[The obvious answer here is grilling, but I plan on covering that in another column. After the hair on my hands and forearms grows back.]
There are, fortunately, several types of fine meats that don’t require cooking. You got your Vienna sausages, your potted meat, your sardines, your smoked oysters, and packaged pepperoni slices, to name a few.
Bonus: all of these delicacies can be stored in the glove compartment of a car for up to two years, with no apparent loss of taste or nutritional value.
Salads can also be very satisfying, especially if they are drenched in Caesar dressing and riddled with fried chicken gizzards.
Keep hydrated. Our house is currently knee-deep in Otter Pop wrappers, which look like used robot condoms. It’s the only thing I let the kids eat as much as they want (Otter Pops, not condoms), and they take full advantage of it. They stay cool and fully hydrated all day long. They also both have diabetes now.
Another sure-fire way to keep a bit cooler on the hottest days: be a man. If you’re a woman in this heat, you’ve got many unfortunate factors stacked against you. More fat (It’s true! Look it up!). The insulating quality of make-up. Longer hair. A bra.
Men, we can appear in public shirtless even if our man-tits are the biggest set on the block. I will say here and now that I believe women should enjoy the same right as men have to go shirtless in public. It’s high time for a revolution, ladies, and I’ll be there, front and center. With my camera.
Time for another beer. And an Otter Pop.
Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blog archive.
Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.
Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.