Bearing up under summer humidity

Is it too much to ask that the weather this summer remain bearable?

With Monday marking the official start of the season, all we can do is ask the question, then wait and see.

Thursday’s strong storms and tornado scare notwithstanding, the weather lately has been fabulous. And yes, I’ve actually stayed awake long enough to notice the blue skies and pleasant temperatures of the past few weeks.

The weather has been so nice, I’ve even considered completely abandoning my usual afternoon nap in favor of venturing outside to get some work done around the house. My wife, however, remains disappointed. I’m still in the planning stages.

Even so, from the vantage point of my favorite chair (where I do all my best planning), this spring has been a gloriously long one.

It has spoiled me.

I’m grateful for it, but it can’t last.

Spring is about to turn the baton over to summer and with it any hope that conditions will remain within my comfort zone, that we’ll somehow be spared the heat and humidity of a typical West Virginia summer.

Between the two, humidity is the deal-breaker for me.

Not long ago, I would have said that I “hate” humidity and not thought much about it. But I’m making an effort not to use that word anymore. It’s often tossed around too casually without any thought to what it really means to hate something.

So I’d rather say that humidity “irritates” me in the same way that our big dog Rodney’s incessant barking “irritates” me when he thinks he’s about to be taken for a walk.

“Annoyed” would be another good word to describe the dim view I take of humidity. It also  “peeves” and “rankles” me.

And while humidity might make me “short-tempered,” it also “drains” what little energy I have in reserve and makes me “wilt,” “sag” and “droop.”

You get the picture. I’m not so much dreading the summertime heat as I am the HUMIDITY.

But it’s not just the distressing prospect of losing good nap weather that concerns me, it’s also the fashion choices that some men make to stay comfortable in the face of the sweaty season.

First, there are shorts. I’m not necessarily opposed to shorts. You’ll find plenty of them in my closet, including cargo shorts and simple cotton shorts with elastic waistbands that expand as I do.

I even still have an infamous pair of colorful madras plaid shorts that I bought years ago. I prefer to think of them as statement shorts, but my wife would delight in simply burning them.

My madras shorts prove I’m not above being a little ridiculous in my fashion choices, but I draw the line at pairing them with black socks and penny loafers.

While I’m on the subject of shoes, my personal preference is to keep my gnarly toes covered out of respect for delicate sensibilities.

Flip-flops and open-toe sandals leave nothing to the imagination, and so I reject them as proper men’s footwear despite their utility in hot, humid weather.

Rest assured that my toes will remain hidden from public view no matter how oppressive it gets this summer.

Think of it as my way of helping to make the season more bearable.

If it seems like I’m trying to avoid you …

thermostatLeaving the house lately has been a lot like being faced with the “Walk of Shame.” In fact, showing my face anywhere right now fills me with trepidation. All I want to do is put on a hat, slip on some shades, duck my head and get through it without talking to anyone.

But I can’t.

Because everyone knows I caved. At least, all my Facebook friends know. And now, if you read further, you’ll know, too. And then you’ll want to ask questions I’m ashamed to answer.

My first mistake was making public my campaign to not be the first in our house to turn on the air conditioner. But posting about it on Facebook was a small blunder compared to the most fatal, grievous, calamitous and downright crushing mistake I made.

I eventually implied in my Facebook posts that I was in a battle of wills with my ultra-competitive wife.

She just didn’t know it.

Not at first, at least.

She eventually found out last week when I informed my FB friends that it was so hot and humid inside our house that my wife appeared “close to breaking,” and that I thought I would soon “claim victory for lasting the longest without turning on the AC.”

When a mutual friend tagged her in a comment that post became my downfall. She turned to me and said, “I didn’t know we were competing.” Then she calmly told me that “if this is a contest, you know you’re going to lose.”

Actually, I’m sort of surprised she hadn’t busted me sooner. The post that ignited her competitive side was just one in a series I had been writing on Facebook.

It started innocently enough with a non-confrontational status update wondering “how long I could resist the siren call of the air conditioner.”

A few days later, I followed it up with another fairly innocuous post expressing relief that cooler temperatures were in the forecast.

A friend of mine then posted a picture of a box fan set up inside a window to encourage a cool breeze.

It went back and forth like that until I finally crossed the line. Last week, I mentioned my wife for the first time when I said I thought we were playing “a sick game of who can last the longest without turning on the AC.”

If I had just left it there, I wouldn’t be going incognito in public right now. But I had to follow it with posts and replies suggesting my wife and I were engaged in a supreme struggle that would scare even our soon-to-be teenage daughter, who is no stranger to conflict.

And then my wife discovered the “close to breaking post” and made it clear that she was anything but.

I spent the next few days gently suggesting that we put aside our contest, that if our tongues hung out of our mouths any further we might be mistaken for our thoroughly miserable dog, Rodney.

But she had a “you started it, I’m finishing it” attitude.

Even our kids were no help. Our daughter took my wife’s side and even wanted a cost analysis between running the air conditioning and all the fans I had running full blast throughout the house. Our teenage son, meanwhile, was oblivious to the whole thing. He spends most of his time at home in our comfortably cool basement pretending he doesn’t live with us.

Eventually, I caved and now I’m suffering the ignominy of having flipped the switch at a moment of craven weakness.

You might be wondering, if I’m so ashamed, why am I admitting to all this?

It’s for husbands who have ultra-competitive wives like mine.

Never let them know you’re competing with them if you want temperatures to cool down at your house.