homepage logo


By Staff | Sep 3, 2010

It’s been a long, hot summer, one that has kept our window air conditioner chugging like a steam locomotive clawing its way up Pike’s Peak.

More than a few have complained about this summer’s heat. You just wait: in a few months, those same people will be griping about the cold. There’s just no pleasing some folks. It seems like they can’t be happy unless they’re mad about something.

It should go without saying that summers were WAY hotter when I was a kid.

The September I started junior high is a good example. Junior high school was taught in a prehistoric, non-air conditioned brick building that bore a striking resemblance to an oven.

It certainly operated like an oven. That pile of bricks absorbed solar radiation, then continuously pumped blast furnace-like heat into the crowded and stifling classrooms. The old schoolhouse would emit a cherry-red glow well into the night.

Some of us boys discovered that we could fry eggs on its exterior walls. You simply had to learn how to toss an egg with the proper amount of force. There would be a pop, a sizzle and a puff and – ta-da! Lunch! The difficult part was getting your egg off the wall before it turned to ash.

The talented among us could fry eggs that had almost no shell in the resulting snack. Those who were truly gifted could produce a fried egg that was scrambled, over easy or sunny side up.

Sadly, this practice ended when a teacher espied a knot of boys hurling eggs at the school. Try as they might, the boys couldn’t convince the powers that be that they were simply doing a little extracurricular cooking. That injustice stands to this very day.

Heat rises, which meant that the top floor of the school was always the toastiest. Science class was held topside and Mel, our effusive science teacher, compounded the temperature problem with his boundless volumes of hot air.

Mel – he was cool and let us call him “Mel” – would yak away, seemingly oblivious to the stifling conditions. Maybe it was because he was so obsessed with such things as osmosis and fulcrums and swivel points.

As that unending summer smoldered toward October we often asked Mel if we could light the Bunsen burners, arguing that the flames would be cooler than the room temperature. Mel replied that we should be quiet and quit playing with the flint strikers.

That summer was so hot, car tires softened to the consistency of used bubble gum. Birds who flew through the blazing sunlight were roasted in midair. Our cows quit giving milk and began to fill the buckets with vanilla custard.

The summer when I was 14 my buddy Steve and I reached a major manhood milestone: we acquired a car. Well, at least Steve did.

One sweltering weekend afternoon Steve and I decided to “go cruising” at a local lake, an activity that consisted of slowly driving back and forth past the swimming area of said lake. Girls in swimsuits were an important part of the equation.

At some point during our pointless motoring, we got out to stretch our legs. We ran into an acquaintance of Steve’s, a guy whom I knew only casually.

As we stood and chatted with the guy a young lady walked up to us. It took a moment for me to recognize her as the guy’s sister.

I had seen her before but had taken scant notice. This was before I had become aware that she, like me, was afan of minimalist swimwear.

Her bikini wasn’t too scanty – if were being worn by a chipmunk. Its primary construction material seemed to be dental floss.

I tried to study this remarkable achievement in swimwear engineering without coming off as creepy. My unrelenting scientific curiosity caused me to wonder about such things as suspension capacities, load distribution and kinetic stress.

Scorching as the day was, it somehow suddenly became much, much hotter. I looked out across the lake, fearing that perhaps it had begun to boil.

Turning back to our little group, I noticed that the guy’s sister was glaring at me. The expression she wore was similar to those I had seen on the faces of the girls in Mel’s science class when they were tasked with dissecting earthworms. Incredibly, the day grew warmer still.

The sister muttered something that sounded vaguely like “Weirdo!” Then turned on her heel and strode back toward the swimming area.

Of course I watched. After all, how else could I have gathered valuable scientific information about active structural dynamics and the very real possibility of a future catastrophic failure?

I think Mel would have been proud of me.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

Please Enter Your Facebook App ID. Required for FB Comments. Click here for FB Comments Settings page