IT'S a certain sign of insanity to argue with the weather. Nevertheless, I’m gonna raise a fuss, gonna raise a holler about it anyway.
Sure, lots of places in the Northern Hemisphere are hot as the eleventy-third circle of hell right now. Mephistopheles’ melting pavement grounded planes in Phoenix earlier this month, and it’s so damn sunny in Philadelphia that it’s posing ongoing threats to the poor and elderly. Entire swathes of California and Portugal are literally on fire.
But I do believe summer in Savannah is its own kind of special wretchedness.
As the heat index crawls into the triple digits like a drunk triathlete determined to cross the finish line, ol’ Auntie Humidity is fixing to smother us in her fetid, batwing embrace. I mean, the trees are sweating, y’all. It might be a hallucination from exiting my air-conditioned cubicle too quickly, but I swear I just saw a squirrel schlepping a tiny bag of ice from the gas station.
Fortunately, there are plenty of cheap and easy ways to cool off our molten cores, such as a visit to the pristine Daffin Park Public Pool or a Pelican’s Snoball bought with change scoured between the couch cushions.
But the extreme heat can take its toll on the soul. Depression rates this time of year rival those of winter, probably from all that Netflix bingeing in dark rooms. As we’ve already experienced, violent crime spikes during the summer months. There’s also low-grade apathy brought on by the constant vexation of getting all dolled up to go out on the town, only to have one’s eyebrows melt off on the way to the car.
‘Tis the season of our discontent, my perspiry friends. And while there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues, I humbly offer some coping skills:
Stop denying it. This isn’t about the “there’s no such thing as climate change” loonies; they’re a lost cause who will suffocate sooner than the rest of us in their bad suits and long ties.
No, I’m talking about the bizarre, enduring romanticism about how the South is “sultraaay,” as the middle school leading lady in a Tennessee Williams play might say. But no cat is stupid enough to hang out on a hot tin roof, so let’s dispense with the myth that anything sexy is going on here.
Heretofore until fall, the only acceptable descriptors for the weather must involve the word “moist” or metaphors about your grandpa’s wet socks. Or my most favorite, “like walking into an open mouth.”
Also, anyone who uses the term “hot as balls” never wore a pair of Spanx to an oyster roast.
Succumb to the social awkwardness. We Savannahians are an affectionate lot, very smoochy. Kind of like Parisians, only instead of a series of slight brushes on the cheek, we use our entire bodies. Rather than duck the love and risk hurting someone’s feelings, just accept the fact that you are going to be wiped in other people’s sweat. It’s why we drink.
On a related note, the heat makes the synapses extra soft when coupled with cocktails, so can we all just forgive each other for not remembering each other’s names? I would propose that we all start wearing nametags, or maybe little blackboards on lanyards that could double as protest signs, but we’d never remember to wear them anyway.
Instead, let’s just stick to saying “good to see ya,” that ubiquitous and useful phrase employed by generations of Savannahians who know full well that it’s impossible to recall every single person we meet in our friendly little city. This charming little shibboleth—coupled with a sudor-soaked shoulder squeeze—conveys, “I may or may not have made your acquaintance at another time but I was too toasted to remember, but hey, you’re all right.”
Let’s talk about bugs, baby. Even if the temperature dips down into something tolerable, the pests of summer will ensure that we’re perennially miserable. From the halo of gnats oscillating around our heads to terrorist roaches big enough to carry off a Styrofoam clamshell, “buggy” ought to be considered an official meteorological term by the National Weather Service. The only thing worse than being tortured by the screeching cicada cacophony is having one of these monstrous creatures buzz into your hair.
The mosquitos this year are downright dangerous with their Zika juice and West Nile nastiness, but I do welcome the beautiful swallowtails, iridescent dragonflies and other essential pollinators flitting about. (Speaking of which, Chatham County Mosquito Control still needs to work on notifying beekeeping residents of upcoming flyover sprays—I have heard multiple complaints this week that Wilmington Island folks were not contacted in spite of being on the call list, resulting in a bunch of dead hives. What a buzzkill.)
Personally, I prefer not to lather myself in DEET or other poison. Instead, I’ve been experimenting with making myself unpalatable to bugs from the inside out by ingesting large amounts of garlic, preferably in the form of hummus from Al-Salaam Deli and a lot of bar food martinis with extra stuffed olives.
I can’t tell if it’s working on the bugs thus far, but it does have the side effect of repelling people, which means less sticky hugs from strangers.
Don’t let the summertime badness get you down. Living in this place, in these times, is not for the faint of heart or weak of constitution. It’s tempting to isolate ourselves with our screens in the safety of our air-conditioned boxes, but then we miss out on all that unique Savannah perspicacity—and perspiration—that gives us common ground.
It’s hot outside, but that’s where the good people gather, under the oaks, on the park benches, along the shore. So grab a fan and step into the maw of mid-summer: As local songtresses Natasha Drena and JJ Collins sang recently at the truly terrific Key Change Cabaret, “the sun is shining, come on get happy”—someone is surely waiting to take your hand.
Or at the very least, catch you up in a sweaty embrace and say “good to see ya.”