Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Heat!

New York City is a fiesta for your senses. Be it your nose, your ears, or your eyes, there is always something potent to be aware of. It all varies by season, but summer is by far the most intense experience. The heat multiplies everything by a factor of 100, bringing about an attack on your senses so profound it is almost unbearable.

During June, July, and August the heat in New York City starts climbing, threatening people's mental health and changing them for the worse. On some days, the temperature and the humidity rise to heights previously thought impossible. And once subtle smells become unavoidable. It is on these days that the whole island seems to reek of rotting milk and hot pee. And no matter where you are or where you go, you cannot escape that scent.

These heat waves almost always peak on garbage day, when thousands of denizens throughout the city have taken their decomposing filth and trash from inside their home and deposited on the curb for pickup. Heat, Trash, Milk, and Pee, I mean, that's like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse right there. On these most magical of days I am almost hoping for the meteor to hit earth and put us all out of our misery.

The heat is nearly inescapable. Breezes don't exist and shade is a joke. And in effort to draw people into their establishments, many stores will leave their doors wide open using thousands of dollars of electricity to blast their air conditioning onto the street as if to say, "Not only are we cold inside, but we also hate the earth!"

But it works. It doesn't matter if it is a lingerie store or a fruit market, people like myself walk in without paying attention to the sign outside just because the arctic blast is so refreshing it is damn near impossible to think of anything else.

It reminds me of the time I was walking around St. Kilda in Australia. My bag with the good sun block had been stolen, so on this particular morning I had to buy a new one. Unfortunately I couldn't find the one I liked, and the one I purchased was apparently made from corn starch and paste.

Not only did it go on thick, but it completely clogged my pores. So when I began to sweat, and sweat profusely at that, my whole body took a whitish tint. And with not even a stitch of cloth to dry myself off, I very much resembled a lanky German geisha.

I sought refuge. Coolness, where art thou? This is summer in Australia; surely they must have "Air Con" everywhere, right? But there were no such places around. After much searching, this clothing store was the best I could do.

Under the guise of being a paying customer, I actually took a couple of shirts into the dressing room. But really, once I closed the door I just stripped, sat down, and hoped to cool off for a bit.

I probably was in there too long because after a bit I heard;

Is everything OK in there sir?

Uh... yea. Just um... checking the stitching on this shirt.

I actually did end up buying a shirt with no sleeves which I still own. Which makes sense for me and not just because I have huge biceps. I sweat a lot in all seasons. this probably isn't going to win me any female fans but it is a fact.

And even though I sweat, I still maintain a high standard of hygiene. Through the use of soap and modern deodorant, while I may sweat, I certainly don't stink.

This is not the case for some of the people in my city.

Scantily clad shower haters are all up in your business. Especially when you are on the train. I don't want to touch anybody else's skin to begin with . But your sweaty, smelly skin?

Oh my god gross.

And as a side note, I will never understand that if hot air rises, and cold air sinks, how come when I am 50+ feet underground in the subway, I feel like I am on a conveyor belt going through the oven at Quiznos?

The other day I was on a train that a couple of kids ran for. Lucky for them they made it. Unlucky for me they smelled like fart. A pair of farts. A pair of farts sitting next to me on the train.


Part of me thinks we, as a train car, should be allowed to vote people out of the car if we have a majority. But I think a power like that is kind of dangerous. And also, thinking back, I probably would have been kicked off that day I had to ride the train drenched and topless. (Story for another time.)

I know this is mean, but often when I am on the train and I see somebody running for it, I kind of hope they don't make it. I know it's not nice, but from experience, 9 times out of 10 the person running for the train isn't gorgeous, jolly, or smell like a peach cobbler. No, in my experience the person running for the train contributes one or all of the following.

1. Stink
2. Sweat
3. Frigging Crazy

Just please sit down, relax, cool off, have a mountain dew, and catch the next train.

When I lived in Arizona, the summer would get up to 115 degrees regularly. And I swear to god if you even say something dumb like "But it's a dry heat" I will karate your face right off of your head. Because you know what? Dry or wet, heat is heat. And when people die of exhaustion, nobody ever asks;

Well was it a wet or a dry heat exhaustion?

Dry heat. You want a dry heat? Put your head in your oven for a half hour and see how that feels.

But what made AZ tolerable was the fact that every building had air conditioning blasting at gale force levels. So on a day full of classes, I would walk outside where the temperature was 108 and then walk into a room where the temperature was like ... 8.

And despite how hot it got out there, sometimes I kind of miss Arizona. maybe it's the reliability of the AZ air conditioning. or it could be that even thought it got up to a million degrees out there... it never smelled like pee.

Yea, maybe that's it.


Pat said...

Let's face it - no matter where you are - when it's that freaking hot out - EVERYTHING/EVERYBODY smells! My niece got married yesterday. It was an outside wedding. It was supposed to get to 95 degrees with a heat index of 105. This was in a suburb about 70 miles southwest of Chicago. Luckily it ONLY got to about 88, and there was a breeze. SO maybe it felt like it was only 90 out. With all the dancing going on, there were a lot of smells floating around! But a good time was had by all!

We winter in AZ each year, but are out of there in APril before it gets too hot. We have experienced 100 degree weather there, though. It's true that it makes a difference with very little humidity, I have to admit.

I love the part where you say that you follow the two farts and they sit next to you on the train. Vote people off the car for smelling! LOL!

whalechaser said...

As a former New Yorker I can certainly relate to your Summer Sufferings. How many times did I think to myself "when this is all over I'm going to write a book about my subway experiences" I can't begin to tell you. So I am not alone, if you have not been in NYC in the summer you CANNOT appreciate any of this! There is no other place that smells and repulses quite like it. And yet it is a part of us, no?
The subway especially seems to provide so much fodder! I'll never forget the time in a semi-crowded train this big black dude walked in, sat down with an air of "the world is MINE" opened his pillowcase and out came a python...
thanks again for the memories

The Girl said...

Being somebody who regularly says "It's too hot" when the temperature gets up to 27c I wondered how in the hell I was going to cope with Arizona. But that air con was a dream, I just had to cope with the walk from apartment to car and then car to restaurant/shop when I would be plunged back to my favoured arctic conditions.

It was a dry heat though although I've realised that all that really means is that it's so hot it just evaporates in to the air. It does not mean it is easier to deal with. I still wanted to peel my skin off at times.

Anonymous said...

Hi Richard! Great post! Although yuck on the hot pee smell, just ewwwey! Your post reminded me of a Simpsons episode where there is a heat wave and some hippy is sitting on the street singing "Sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy..." and he gets accordingly pummelled. I remember living in downtown Montreal, and the summer basically smelled like a mix of hot garbage, cigarettes and "the day after" being in a bar all night. Ick. I'm lucky to say that here in the mountains, the summer smells like trees and rain. What a nice difference! LOL people say all the time "I don't mind the heat, it's the humidity I can't stand", that makes me want to judo chop them!!! Oh, and btw, you're not the only one hoping the subway doors close before the offenders reach the train...I'm one of those people who is always trigger-happy on the "close" button on elevators...shameful, but I prefer my space! :-)

rxBambi said...

Ok now I'm totally confused. Hubs and I went to NYC a couple years back. In august. Why? I have no clue. But we did and I distinctly remember that EVERY DAY IS GARBAGE DAY in NYC. Seriously, there was garbage piled on the streets every stinking day. And by stinking I mean, literally, stinking. hot pee? yes. And pairs of farts around every corner. It's my most vivid memory of new york. Sad, but true. Okay also we saw Spam-a-lot and I giggled my pants off (not literally, but close). But is it not true about the trash? Oh wait, I have one more vivid memory from that trip: my hubs knocked some homeless guys food over. I thought we were going to get stabbed. I was just saying "give him some money! give him money!" so we gave him $20 and got the hell out of there! Ahhh, summer in new york...

carolyn said...

yeah FL is hotter but its designed around the heat. its not as oppressive as ny. SEE YOU SOON.

Meeko Fabulous said...

Hola Ricardo! :) I live in California and I totally know what you mean when you say you want to karate someone when they say it's a dry heat! Whenever anyone says that I want to kick them in their jugular! Heat is heat. No matter which way you slice it.

Nancy said...

Well, I can feel for you, I really can. I have been in Las Vegas in the summer and dry heat or no, it's HOT. I could never live in Arizona, for sure. The two farts on the subway cracked me up! I feeeeel fooooor yoooou! OMG!

All of this is why we live in the mountains. I smell fresh running stream outside. And pine. Sorry. Hope it cools off soon!

Michelle Farber said...

I thought I was the only person who took some sort of sick pleasure in watching desperate subway runners get left in the dust. I'm not sure why I like to see others fail in their attempts to race to the train since generally, I am a nice person and not very vengeful.

It's the same way I pray for the elevator door to close before the footsteps down the hall get closer and closer. I call this "elevator panic" because god forbid we have to stand so close to a stranger in a moving box and make small talk. really, there's nothing worse...

The weird thing is, I've been the person who ran and almost made it to the train and had to stand all sweaty and defeated and wallowing in self-pity while I waited for the next one. It's just awful because odds are I was late and now I'm even later. But like many others, when I do actually make it to the train and leapfrog on all out of breath and probably smelly, I feel the need to proclaim something completely asinine to the startled passengers, like "wow, almost didn't make it" or "oh man, I ran fast".

Anyway, thanks for making me laugh as usual! Keep up the good work Burse.

satan's little helper said...

Rich, I love the Blog. Long time reader, first time poster. Granted you have to walk past all these unpleasent smells. But if you want to hit ground zero I highly reccomend taking a walk past "K" town. K town adds the delightful smell of fish to the normal rotten milk/pee smell. In order not to pass out from the smell I reccomend duck tapping a douche bag over your face. To be clear I am not talking about your typical Long Island douche bags either, you'll want to use summer's eve.

scarlethue said...

Don't ever move to the deep south... we've got the market cornered on heat and humidity to boot. But like Arizona, we also have air conditioning everywhere.

I understand from my time in London how miserable the tube ride can be in the summer. We had a heat wave there once-- inside some tube cars the temps were registering 105 F.

I would have been voted off the time I pinched a nerve and had to go to a masseuse and then got on the train smelling (reeking) of eucalyptus, peppermint, and sweat, especially as it was rush hour. I was even making myself sick.

Fishy Fish said...

How funny it is that people complain abut it being so hot when we just welcomed these hot summer days. Not to long ago we were all wishing it would stop raining long enough for us to visit the beach or amusement park and then BAM! people complain about the heat.
Hpnestly I would rather it be hot then to have a foot of snow to walk through or shovel for the case anyday.

Jessie said...

Oh Rich you haven't changed a BIT. SOO FUNNY still. Oh how I miss those good old days...well, minus high school. erg.

Anonymous said...

Rich - you are hysterical! You've inspired me to start my own blog. Am hoping you'll check it out.

Optimistic Pessimist said...

i think the pee smell is what makes the people so crazy. let's face it - it take a strong person to be able to smell pee day in day out and not lose it, even just a little bit.