And I had to walk uphill both ways.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but it’s been hot.

Hot in the Middle West, hot in the South, hot in the East, hot for the Hottentots, no doubt. Only in the Pacific Northwest — where they have, apparently, had 78 minutes of summer so far (according to actual scientists) — has it been anything other than Really Really Hot.

Once upon a time, I lived in a city where this kind of hot was de rigueur at this time of year. Every year. Every day. From June 30 to September 10, give or take (with an inevitable resurgence just in time for Yom Kippur, when those who fast may not have so much as a sip of water) — heat just like this.

It doesn’t cool down on summer evenings in Tel Aviv, and the humidity could fairly easily be cut with a knife. You could make little tofu-like cubes of the humidity, and stir-fry them on the sidewalk, at midnight, is what I’m saying.

And back when I lived there, in the 80s and 90s, nobody but the rich had air-conditioning.

I was not, as you may have surmised by now, counted among the rich.

Here, though, in the gentle exile of American suburbia, I have air-conditioning up the wazoo! And if I keep certain windows shaded morning to night, it doesn’t even have to work all that hard to counteract the blast furnace with which we and the Hottentots must now grapple.

All of which means that I do not have to do any of the following semi-crazy things that I used to do, just to cool down, in Tel Aviv:

  1. Take upwards of three showers a day; allow my hair to drip down my back for as long as possible. Then wet my hair again.
  2. Sleep upside down, so that the fan could be right at my face.
  3. Dampen a sheet, and wrap myself in it at bedtime.
  4. Go to Jerusalem.
  5. Stick my head in the freezer.

Of these five activities, clearly #4 represented the nadir of my misery. Because, dude: Jerusalem is awful.

But for two glorious months of the year, when the sun had set and the breeze had returned, leaving Tel Aviv for the chaotic, dirty capital actually made sense.

One time, I remember, I even had to put on a sweater.

PS Just for the record: I really did used to stick my head in the freezer. You know: Now and then. If I happened to be passing. But I’m kind of short, so it would only last for a few seconds.


  1. “You could make little tofu-like cubes of the humidity, and stir-fry them on the sidewalk, at midnight, is what I’m saying.”

    Brilliant. Love this. Tweeted and Facebooked. (Yesterday was the hottest day in Michigan in 24 years.)

    • : ) Thank you! (The worst of it being, of course, that the stir-fry would not have reduced the humidity one iota).

  2. I was in New Mexico in July with not even a swamp cooler—and no, that it was a “dry heat” really doesn’t make much difference once you get into the 110s.

    Anyway. I’d take a shower with my clothes on. And I’d keep water next to my bed to throw on me periodically during the night.

    It wasn’t enough.

    • o_O take a shower with your clothes on?!

      That is amazing. And I am so sad it didn’t occur to me.

  3. nm

     /  July 22, 2011

    When I was an a/c-less kid in St. Louis, we combined your numbers 3 and 5 by putting the sheets in the freezer.

    • Also sad that this did not occur to me. Sheets in the freezer would have been perfect – cold for as long as you need to fall asleep….

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