Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Must... Have... Siesta

It is hotter than hell here right now. Hotter than Georgia asphalt. Hotter than a harlot in church. Hotter than a June bride in a feather bed. Hotter than the devil's underwear. Hotter than a $2 pistol on the Fourth of July.

It's August in Memphis. It's hot. And it's humid, so the heat is swampy hot. Oppressive.

The heat index yesterday was 106 degrees, and it is supposed to reach 110 today. The overnoght "lows" are still in the 80's. I suppose that most people have at some point in their lives felt over-100-degree heat. But if you've never lived in a place where those temperatures are sustained for days, and weeks, on end, then I'm not sure that you can really appreciate the misery of it. When August arrives in Memphis, it's almost as if you can hear a collective groan and see people steeling themselves for the "dog days" ahead. Everyone knows it's going to miserable and everyone knows it's going to be long, and everyone knows that there's nothing that can be done about it. I mean, it's over a hundred degrees outside! (Just wanted to repeat that for added emphasis.) Most people I know, around this time of year, are forced to walk out of the room during the weather forecast part of the evening news. The forecast is always the same: many, many more days of the same. I feel sorry for the TV weather guys-- they look so sorry and so pitiful. There are definitely days when, in the futility of it all, I want to shoot the messenger myself.

There was a story on NPR this morning on the merits of the siesta. It turns out that, earlier this year, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health studied Greeks and found that those who partake in the afternoon nap have a lower risk of heart disease. And, similarly, scientists at the University of Manchester have found neurological benefits to the siesta. Neither of these studies has much to do with the heat of the afternoon, but rather the finer points of the biological process known as the postprandial dip. So, let me offer another argument in praise of the siesta.

When it gets as hot as is does here in August, you can't move. You can't think. You can't even breathe since the air is so thick that it feels like you could cut it with a knife. In the afternoons here in Memphis, people just scurry from one air-conditioned refuge to another. And, even still, there is no AC system adequate to counter the raging beast outside. So, I say, take a nap... and dream of cooler places.

We Southerners could take a pointer or two from our sub-tropical comrades in the "global" South. As it says in the Good Book:

And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass

6 comments:

Chet said...

i take it that is a colorful southern translation of the bible.

LEIGH said...

no, that's the real thing.

Luke 12:55.

LEIGH said...

or, for my ancient friends,

και οταν νοτον πνεοντα λεγετε οτι καυσων εσται και γινεται

petya said...

Totally unrelated...but I just heard this from a friend of mine who's from Tennessee: "Kentucky is like our sister [Tennessee]: shorter and not as good looking". Kyle thinks it's not funny. I think it is. You?

LEIGH said...

omg, petya, TOTALLY funny!

but now that I think about it, Kentucky is actually taller, isn't it? I mean, maybe the person meant "shorter in length," which would be true, but it's a little confusing.

Kentucky's definitely not as good looking, though, so that should clear up any ambiguity.

Chet said...

West Virginia and Ohio could vie with Kentucky for least good looking state ...