It’s summer time here in the City of S. Texas. Summer is a special time for children. School is out, pools are open, sprinklers are set up to be played in, and the cheap seats at the local ball park are perfect for catching a foul ball. One of the special treats of the summer is the ice cream man. His jolly jungle beckoning the neighbor kids can be heard from streets away, sends children of all ages to run about the house yapping, “Ice cream, ice cream” until mom gives them money to buy a fudge bar from the man’s truck. In one quick swoop, like a mother hen shooing her chicks along, she release the children into the street to find the ice cream truck.
When the truck is finally found, each child is rewarded by the first few licks from a fudge bar. The child can only get a few lick from the sweet chocolatey bar because it is so hot, so incredibly hot, that the fudge bar melts and the children are forced to lick the melted bar from their hands, forearms, and elbows. Nobody told the children that this would happen, but the kids don’t mind. That’s just the way kids are: unfazed by life’s mishaps. And when the kids return home a sticky mess they share that stickyness with the family by touch everything: remote controls, door knobs, pants. Finally when mom has had enough sharing, she commands her kids to clean their hands. The girls listen and wash their hands with fruit scented soaps of kiwi and mango. The boys though clean their hands, but differently from the girls. They are boys, they do things differently. They let Buzz, the bet beagle, do the cleaning form them with long sloppy wet licks. Buzz is more than happy to help and wags his tail with great excitement back and forth. And the boys think themselves clever for discovering a way of cleaning that does not require washing with mango soap.
It is hot outside. Very hot. It’s so hot that the other day it began to rain, and the rain didn’t even have a chance to hit the ground before it evaporated back into the clouds. The locals are able to witness the water cycle right before their very eyes. Incredible it was. Rain like this happens ever so often that it has its own name. The residents have taken to calling it dehydrated rain.
The children of S. Texas aren’t the only ones finding way to keep cool and enjoy the summer. The adults are busy too in finding ways to keep cool. The yearly blistering temperatures in S. Texas have led some of the more inventive types to tinker with personal cooling devices. For instance, Bob Smith created an air conditioning for trousers, a hat with a built in fan that ran on solar power, and a pillow that always has a cool side.
The more resourceful residents of S. Texas make do with what they have on hand to help keep themselves cool. Big John Jones, on one scorching day, resorted to bringing his kids’ baby pool into his living rom, filling it with water and bags of ice, and reclining into it for an afternoon of another Law & Order marathon. At times, he’d wander into the kitchen and open and the fridge or freezer door not because he was hungry but to simply feel the cool air against he face. If his wife isn’t looking, he’d grab a bag of peas or carrots, sometimes even a steak from the freezer and hold it to the back of his neck providing him a moment of relief from the oppressive heat.
While the men are digging in the freezer for relief, the wives are busy making their famous Southern, sweet, iced tea. The secret to making this tea, passed down from mother to daughter as a rite of passage, is to add the sugar and mint and any other ingredients to the tea while it is still hot- just after you remove the tea bags from the hot water.
Each night during the summer months, which in S. Texas extends from April-October, all families pray that God gives their air conditioning unit the strength to make it through another summer. Even though the thermostat is trying to get the air conditioner to get the indoor temperature to 76 degrees the house never cools past 79. Just this past Sunday at the First Baptist church the air conditioning broke. The compressor stopped working. Old Aunt Ester fainted from heat stroke and was carted to the near by hospital -- she had gotten to church early to get a good seat, and the heat just did her in. The choir’s singing reminded the congregation of molasses: thick, heavy, and slow. The music was less than the usual vibrancy normally associated to with a Baptist service. After an opening song, the preacher, who normally does not begin preaching till after the congregation has been worked up many hymns, took to the pulpit. The Reverend Clarence York, known for his fiery preaching of great length and depth, gave his shortest and most direct sermon. It was only 15 words in length. After mounting the pulpit he began, “You think it’s hot as hell in here. I assure you. It is not.” When he finished and stepped down from the pulpit the choir began the closing song “The Rivers of Babalyon.” This left the congregation confused. The old ladies, in their summer hats and fans, had not met their Sunday quota of affirming the Reverend and each other with ejaculative “yes,” “Mmmmhu,” “Amen,” and “Hallelujah.” The young men had not the time enough to study the young ladies so as to determine who they should ask to brunch. In fact, there would be no brunch this week with only a 15 minute service it was only 9:15 in the morning when church ended: so no fried trout on grits, no fried chicken wings on belgium waffles, and no eggs and beacon ruben breakfast sandwich.
And that’s the news from the City of S. Texas.
[My attempt to parody Garrison Keeler. I do hope it is "good enough."]