Traditional depictions of hell are generally heat related ? fire, brimstone, swigging cups of hot lava. In his play, No Exit, Frenchistentialist scribe Jean-Paul Sartre famously opined, ?Hell is other people.? Given the recent heatwave that?s left most of Northern California a pile of angst and ash, I?m inclined to believe that hell is actually being hot with other people.
The weather is torture enough and having to share the earth with anything other than the cone of shaved ice I traded my immortal soul for is unbearable. Not only do other people sweat and pant and bemoan the heat as much as I do, they also produce body heat, which only adds to the problem. If you look at a crowd of people through an infrared camera, they look like a forest fire. Spread out, people! Remember, this is how the ?Matrix? started ? the machines put us in pods and used our body heat as a natural resource. So, unless we?re standing in a walk-in freezer together, stay away from me and not only will we prevent the machine uprising, I also won?t have to spray you with liquid nitrogen to keep you from being a human heat-sicle.
It?s pretty obvious at this point (October!) that something?s gone horribly wrong with the weather. One way to fight climate change is to change climates and cool one?s heels on, say, an Arctic ice flow. Of course, you have to fight for the dwindling real estate with the occasional polar bear, but if you bring enough canned goods, you could probably wait out their inevitable extinction (a couple of weeks at this rate). Also, don?t smoke ? not only will you melt your new neighborhood, you?re liable to ignite the methane being released from the melting permafrost. Imagine the irony ? you?ve fled to the Arctic to keep cool but the flick of a Bic turns the place into a fireball the size of a sub-continent.
I have a better strategy for fighting back the mercury. Camp out in a big box store. Behemoths like Staples are not only over-air-conditioned, they?re rather capacious, meaning that you can usually find an under-populated corner to cool off in ? alone ? with only the occasional well-meaning staffer asking, ?Can I help you?? Unless that person is there to refill your pina colada, you just tell them you?re seeing how their Staples-brand Acadia Ergonomic Mesh Task Mid-Back Chair vents your body heat, explain the ?Matrix? to them, then close your eyes and go to sleep. I read somewhere that their employee handbook has a rule about not-waking dozing customers. You can tell them that too and by the time they finish checking their handbook the earth will probably have turned into a s?more of molten magma so who cares?
Barring Staples, you might consider hiding out in the frosty climes of a chain drugstore. I once spent several hours keeping cool at a Long?s by pretending my arm was stuck in the blood pressure machine.
So, here?s my weather-related prediction: a TV weatherman will have a live breakdown and, in a Howard Beale-esque ?Network? moment, declare, ?I?m hot as hell and I?m not going to take this anymore!? Then he will strip naked. Ratings will soar, leading all broadcast meteorologists to report the weather in the nude henceforth. (Roberta Gonzales, are you listening?)
I?m not sure if this would be a sign of the Apocalypse or the moment that journalism finally crosses the point of no return, but I do know it would be cool. Maybe not in the way that brings down temperatures that feel like an atom bomb detonating in slow motion, but cool in the sense that … Oh, nevermind ? my laptop just melted.