Luke has a theory that the most common conversation English-speaking people have is some variation on, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity*.” For example:
Daniel: How about this rain?
Balloon: Yeah. I don’t mind it too much, though. I was just in Florida, and it was AWFUL there.
Daniel: Yeah? Too hot?
Balloon: It’s not so much the heat that gets you as it is the humidity.
(Yes, the person in this hypothetical world is named “Balloon.” What’s the point of a fictional story if you can’t name one of the characters Balloon?)
i am back in Chicago where it is so hot. How do people sleep when it is this hot? Last night, after tossing around for two hours, I took two beer bottles out of the refrigerator (neither Luke nor I drink beer, but people give us beer as a gift sometimes, so we always have beer in the house — which I figure will be good if and when we ever live out my secret dream of getting our actual neighbor Cubs pitcher John Lester to come over for a brewskie someday) and held them in my hands to try to cool down. Holding the beer bottles made my hot hands feel like they had individual heartbeats. This was distracting for an hour. After that, the beer bottles weren’t cold anymore! HOW DO PEOPLE SLEEP. HOW DO THEY DO IT.
While standing in a line yesterday I said to a man, “Jeez, Chicago is HOT.” Why did I say this? It was quiet and I don’t like quiet; I wanted the man to know I was friendly and normal and came in peace; I didn’t know anything about this man except that he had probably been out in the weather and he probably had probably deduced, using his human skin pores, that it was hot. I don’t know. I’m ashamed about it now. I’m sad that it happened.
The man said, as you have by now correctly guessed, “Yeah, it’s not the heat that bugs me, personally. It’s this humidity!"
I recently learned the youthful verb “FacePalm” — as in, to find your face attached to your palm, usually as a result of shame, regret, or dismay. This was a FacePalm moment. I panicked and said to the man in the line, “WHAT KIND OF TREE WOULD YOU BE IF YOU COULD BE A TREE?” The man raised both eyebrows at me and then took out his phone, which had obviously not buzzed or anything, but he did a good job acting like it had. So much for appearing to be normal.
And yet, do I regret this? No I do not. Oscar Wilde said, “Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” And he is the kind of person you quote in a blog post. You don’t quote anyone, ever, who has anything to say about the humidity. (There is, in my opinion, a single exception to this rule.)
I don’t want to live in an unimaginative world where people only ever talk about the humidity! I made a vow right then and there to say more interesting things and ask better questions when I am standing in line with strangers. I will say things like, “Today is National Doughnut Day! How do you feel about doughnuts?” I will ask this even when it is not National Doughnut Day. What’s the harm? A white lie in the field of battle against that persistent foe named mundanity is not a white lie made in vain.
Let’s all join hands and do this together! Let’s make the world a more interesting place to live in! Let’s give the people who stand in lines something weird to talk about with their significant others over dinner!
(To be fair to you, the reader, I should say that after the incident with the humidity man, I did, maybe, ride in a Lyft** with a nice woman who said, “I’m staying cool in my car tonight. You opened that door and I could FEEL the heat from out there.” And to that I said nothing about National Doughnut Day. Instead I said, “Yeah, it’s awful. And it is SO HUMID!” The lesson here is that having conversation about the humidity is not merely an annoyance; it is, for all intents and purposes, a virus that must be stopped. I can’t imagine Oscar Wilde never in his life said anything about humidity. It’s impossible. Especially because he was always wearing such itchy suits, even in the summer.)
* To the good people of the Pacific Northwest who do not understand this post: “Humidity” is the thing that makes summer awful. If you’ve never left the PNW, you may not think this is possible. Stay innocent as long as you can.
** Conversations in Lyfts are usually similarly terrible. I’d like to also place a moratorium on questions like, “How is the driving going tonight?” “How long have you been a Lyft driver?” and “How long have you been out?” I’d like to do that. But these things are easier said than done. Let’s just start with the humidity thing and work up.