I don’t need to tell you how much I dislike the extreme heat and mugginess of summer, but I will anyway. I bitch and complain like a polar bear on a BBQ spit. I find myself angry with anyone wearing blue jeans, because it makes me even hotter having to look at such foolishness. It’s hot, for God’s sake—dress accordingly! Oh, and don’t even think about being in the same room with me if you are sporting ankle-length lycra yoga tights or those polyester bicycle pants. Just knowing that your “good stuff” is sweltering to the point of an impending medical crisis makes my brain hurt.
Springtime fills me with energy and a complete devotion to the great outdoors. The curtains are open wide, the screen door is all that separates us from the front porch and backyard, and our living room takes to the sidewalk for some serious stooping. That is, until summer catches fire. One day, you wake up, she has moved in, and you know you are now in it for the long haul. Time to lower the blinds, pull the curtains shut, and worship the air conditioner.
More than once, I have entertained the idea of stripping down naked and lying on the cool marble floor of my Whitney Bank while waiting in line—so far, the most extreme I have indulged in is slipping out of my shoes and allowing the smooth, icy tiles to sooth my feet. But my primal urges surface when I long to dig like my childhood dog, Rags, and create a bunker under the neighbor’s house, burrowing into the cool, moist dirt. Instead, I opt for an ice-cold bar and an equally cold beer.
Actually, for all my grousing about our humid heat, I really love summertime. And to keep my fondness of this season alive and well until autumn arrives (warning to new residents: fall doesn’t grace us with cooler temps until October—if lucky), I would love to share some of my “Stay Cool Tips” with you. For those who live well above the average working-stiff level, my budget-minded tips may some pointless. But if you approach your Entergy bill with the same trepidation as I do, then read on.
Air conditioning—just saying those two words brings joy to me. The gentle hum of its motor cools me before my skin has even had a chance to register the sweat dissolving from my slimy epidermis. My mood is soothed and hope is restored as this cavalry of thermal cooling magic rescues me from the clutches of heat deliriums.
If you share my appreciation of artificial and climate-changing (yeah, there’s that) AC, but feel the need to leave your home and/or lower your Entergy bill, then hop on the RTA bus line and just ride that thing. Take a book, buy a $3.00 all-day pass, sit back and read, or just see New Orleans. Speaking of reading—visit your local New Orleans Public Library. You can spend hours soaking up free air, peace, and quiet, while indulging in every magazine or newspaper you couldn’t afford to buy. Treat yourself to an hour of travel and art appreciation. Then whip out that library card and check out a great novel, some vinyl, a DVD, a few CDs, and perhaps a cookbook.
Museums! Nothing is as tranquil as an art museum. Those high-buffed marble floors, Zen-like placement of contemporary and classic masterpieces, and folks moving about slowly, thoughtfully, and speaking with hushed tones. I swear one’s blood pressure is guaranteed to drop. You glean knowledge, curate culture, expand your aesthetic awareness—and cease to sweat for a couple of hours. A win, win!
Nothing takes you further from a hot summer day than an afternoon spent in a cool, darkened movie theater. My favorite is The Broad Theater. They offer matinees at a reduced price, cocktails served in actual glassware, and of course, my favorite, the “just-the-right-size-for-one” value pack of a Coca-Cola and popcorn in the old-timey red and white box. Can you make healthier popcorn at home? Yeah. But sometimes, you simply need that movie popcorn with too much butter and salt!
Swimming pools are the ultimate cooling device. You not only chill down, you are taking advantage of just about the finest form of exercise. Lap swim, tread water, kickboard, noodle, join a water aerobics class, or just stretch and float. Whatever your speed, whatever your ability, water is therapy. So, perhaps you’d love to swim, but where? Certainly, there are hotels available for locals, but there will be a fee, though this might be just what you need—that feeling of being on vacation at a fancy place. However, you needn’t fret about cost if you indulge in our city-owned and -run NORDC pools. My favorite is the outdoor, Olympic-sized pool (open seven days a week) at Stallings Gentilly near the Fair Grounds race track. This is one bodacious pool, and it’s free! For other locations, visit NORDC.org.
Spend the day at the hospital. No, you do not need to be sick! Yesterday, I had two annual wellness checkups at University Medical Center (Galvez and Canal), and since they were three hours apart, I took a book I’ve not been able to find time to read, packed a light lunch, and had the most relaxing few hours sitting in various lobbies with ceiling-to-floor windows overlooking neatly tended green spaces. I visited the equally airy, sleek, and shiny dining area (only vending machines), and enjoyed my brown-bag lunch at a table to myself. I really felt like I was at some super ritzy airport awaiting a vacation flight!
This hot summer town is full of affordable treats and flights of fancy. So, when the temps hit 100, take a chill pill, use your imagination, and discover how cool it is to be here!