There’s an old joke about Texas: A Texan plays poker with the Devil. The game goes on day after day, week after week, and the stakes get bigger and bigger the whole time. One day, the Texan calls Satan’s big bet with the deed to all of Texas, whereupon the Devil throws down his royal flush, busting the Texan broke. The Texan gets ready to pack his things and move, but then the Devil disappears down a deep hole back to Hell. “Hey Satan,” yells the Texan, “aren’t you going to take my state?” “No,” replies the Devil, “I’ve spent a few weeks in Texas and, believe me, I’ve decided to live in Hell and rent out Texas.” Have I mentioned lately that I’m living in Phoenix for the summer? Have I mentioned that, given the option, the Devil would clearly live in Texas and rent out Arizona?
You may have read in the newspaper this week that Arizona is suffering from unseasonably warm temperatures, by which I mean several subsequent days of 120° or higher. According to scientific tests, a scoop of ice cream put on the sidewalk will melt in under ten seconds. Today, when I was checking out at the supermarket, the register jockey asked me “would you like courtesy ice to keep that food cool on the way home?” Then, when I got home, I could smell the parking lot melting. Melting! Mmm the pungent aroma of asphalt. Meanwhile, the blasting A/C is keeping things down to about 80° inside.
I’m not quite sure at what point people missed the big “Not Suitable For Human Habitation!” sign that God clearly put out here. Didn’t the first few sets of settlers make it to summer and then broil alive or something? Didn’t they hop the first train out, come June, and then determine to stay back home in Nebraska for the duration? How desperate must they have been to stick around for a 120° summer without air conditioning, iceboxes, cool sodas, or swimming pools?
The locals have clearly learned to live with it — I saw many of them out walking today, dripping with sweat, their shirts soaked, their backs bent in resignation — but I don’t understand how they do it. I mean, I went “home to Baltimore”:http://juniorbird.com/archives/001649.html and was fine with 95° heat and 98% humidity, but this is too much. Can’t I at least have a tree for shade?