Crazy from the Heat

All you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right kind of people.

-My Man Godfrey

I don't sweat.


It's a genetic thing. On my mother's side. She doesn't sweat either. When we overheat, we have to be hosed down, or we pass out.

"Just like pigs," as I'm fond of telling people.

Hop Sing constantly asks why I don't replace that with a more aesthetically appealing image, "like maybe a gazelle," but that's because I don't really know if gazelles sweat or not. But I know, unequivocally, that pigs do not.

The reason I bring this up is because this defect limits my summertime activities to some degree.

Last week, for example, we went to a cocktail party at some kind of tennis thing and I lasted about 13 minutes before I melodramatically sprawled across a table and pleaded (successfully) to be taken to a bar with air conditioning.

Last night was even worse.

First, the simple act of selecting a restaurant somehow required 32 emails among 18 people.

Which really wasn't our fault.

We had ALL agreed - in unison and with enthusiasm - that we wanted to try the new Venezuelan (or something like that) place, but our plans were foiled when we discovered their grand opening had been delayed.

If we couldn't have what we wanted, our next requirement was basic proximity to the show we were attending later. Nobody wanted to park, move, and fight traffic.

And proximity is defined, for me, as "within three blocks," anytime the temperature tops 90 degrees.

After those requisite 32 emails, followed by another 213 cell phone exchanges, we all somehow agreed on one place I think because we all disliked it pretty much equally.

I don't like it for two reasons: it's hot and crowded, plus it's a pickup joint. (Which, for most people, is, I'm sure, its chief virtue.)

I don't believe in those places though. I know why they exist, but I don't like them. And I didn't need to pick anybody up. I was surrounded, at all times, by enough testosterone to successfully invade France (if it had occurred to us).

Our crew for the evening included multiple lawyers, multiple bankers, one surgeon, and readily available firepower in the form of one guy in law enforcement.

Of course, you'd think that with that much brain and brawn, we'd have actually figured out a way - collectively - to feed ourselves by now.

So, the first place had no tables. (We might not have many standards that we agree on, but even the most devout bachelors in the group have long since given up standing over a sink while they eat. At least they say they have.)

I walked across the street and found a perfectly acceptable bar (i.e., it was an exquisitely temperate 71 degrees inside).

About half the group crossed over and ordered drinks, and we dispatched pages to everyone else telling them of the location change.

Drinks were ordered. Tempers cooled.

And then it turned out they didn't have food. At all.

Big deal, I thought.

They had chairs. And air conditioning. That's all I required.

But I was outvoted by people who just had to eat. I told 'em they were kinda getting on my nerves by that point. I mean, we're not 18 months old, y'know.

I enjoy mealtime, but I can occasionally forego my "scheduled feeding" if circumstances warrant it.

So, off for another hike (necessitating another round of pages to the members of the group who had somehow become separated from the pack, or were locked in a holding pattern, two bars back).

Sometimes, I wish my friends came equipped with their own leashes - or microchips - or maybe just one of those "trot lines" that you always see people leading little kids up and down the street with (presumably so they don't get lost or maybe they're just on their way to the pound; I don't know).

We get to the next place - a burger joint. Other than the smell of charred flesh, and the "serve yourself" cafeteria-style array of "food bars," I guess it wasn't so bad. Everybody kept asking me if I wanted anything, till I finally dismissed their offers with an upturned nose, and the response that, "I don't eat at troughs, thank you."

(An inability to sweat does not mean I share any porcine inclinations toward diet or a proclivity for mudholes.)

Halfway through dinner, one of the guys in the group was musing aloud about a camping trip we might go on this Fall -which he characterizes as "civilized," because after the frost, the bugs and humidity are gone.

I said, Nuh uh. "Civilized" means indoor plumbing, air conditioning, and preferably a Do Not Disturb sign that says "Four Seasons" on it.

He thinks just because I was raised on a farm, that I should be naturally "outdoorsy."

Also I'd admitted that I used to spend my summers (years ago) camping in the Smoky Mountains and white water rafting.

Asked what happened, my response is an easy one. "I was eight. And I was held captive - against my will" according to the whims of my family.

If I'd had a driver's license and an AmEx, believe me, I'd have been kicked back in the closest Sheraton, watching cable, ordering room service, and helping myself to the minibar.