Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hot town

I know I shouldn’t start off by complaining, but I just have to. Why is it so friggin’ hot around here? Because it’s July? No. July can be perfectly pleasant. I’ll tell you why: because France, despite its many charms and areas of strength and superiority, does not GET climate control. Look, I spent the better part of my youth in seriously hot places: Ramona, California, for example (go Dawgs!), followed by Dallas, Texas (go Mustangs!). And I can barely even remember sweating for any serious amount of time. Why? Because AIR. Because CONDITIONING. What is so complicated? You buy a unit, install it, and then, you don’t spend the whole summer fantasizing about running naked through a snow storm. But no, nothe French seem to totally distrust air conditioning; even those who have it are reticent to turn it on too high because they don’t want to catch a chill. Every summer I hear the same lament: “I caught a cold from the air conditioning.” We Americans don’t know what this is; the right to crank the A/C up to “subarctic” is clearly written somewhere in the Constitution. I would never call the French wusses. Except when it comes to this. I mean come on. A cold? Really?

“I told you to set it on low!”

I had to take a suburban train the other day, along with little g. (notice his promotion from baby g.), a stroller and a bunch of luggage, in 107°F heat. Do you suppose there was any climatisation installed on this PUBLIC SERVICE transportation? Hell no. Within 15 minutes I was so sopping wet radiant that a fellow passenger reached out in a touching display of empathy (or perhaps just plain pity) and handed me a kleenex. It was sort of like trying to absorb a swimming pool using one paper towel, but I appreciated the gesture. What is France WAITING FOR to jump on the air conditioning bandwagon? Were 15,000 heat-related deaths in 2003 not enough? Are they trying to add mine to the list? Here we are in 2015, with the technology to avoid such catastrophes, and yet, do you know what “action” the French government is taking this year to protect its citizens from the patently lethal heat? Encouraging them to buy fans and drink water. That’s it. They’ve even come out with an official poster. I’ve lived here for a lot of summers, and not once has drinking water or sticking my face in front of a fan done anything to render the heat any less insupportable. One might posit environmental or budgetary concerns behind it all, but I would counter with “laziness” and “apathy.


No, the only way to escape the heat without heading to Brittany is to head to the bathtub. I stuck little g. in there the other day because his sweet baby cheeks were getting all flushed, and one can only empty so many cans of pricey thermal spring water mist on one’s inappreciative toddler, right? So I gave him a good old-fashioned spray bottle and left him to go at it while I attempted to get some work done. At one point, the giggling gave way to a full minute of silence, which as any parent of a two-year-old knows, is a surefire sign of high mischief and/or imminent death. So I popped my head into the bathroom to check on him, only to find that he had gotten into my (expensive) “feminine wash,” and was happily shampooing his hair with it. I should have been angry, but I was actually kind of proud. Only two years of experience with the world and he already knows how to shampoo his own hair! How adorable is that? I think the heat is getting to me.