The Heat is On

Published by Chris Harvey June 23, 2006

I admit that for me the grass is always greener around the corner. But I’m right! The proof: for spring break I went hiking in the mountains with my girlfriend. We found a glacial stream–so beautiful. Except there were hordes of other people who also thought it was the perfect place to bask in the sun.

“Come on,” I coaxed. “Let’s walk upstream to a more secluded area.”

“Why? This is fine right here.”

“With these families? I’m sure there will be no one further up.”

“They’re just people like us. Why always look for something better, prettier, more perfect when you’re happy where you are? Didn’t you hear about the joint American-Japanese Mount Everest expedition? The Americans went all the way to the summit, but the Japanese group stopped climbing 100 meters before the top. It was a voluntary decision on their part, an act of humility.”

As we climbed along the meandering stream, there were fewer and fewer people, until at one point we had the entire view to ourselves.

“Wow, I guess you were right, in a way–I’m glad we didn’t miss this.”

“I’m sorry, what did you say?”

“I said you were right… in a way.”

The following day we struck out into terrain that the guidebook described as “moon-like.” Quasi-desert.

“Maybe we should turn back. It’s so hot here! Our water is almost gone, too.”

“OK… but let’s just see what’s up ahead. I think it will be cool.”

“But it’s all been the same scrub so far…”

“Exactly, everything is temporal. It’s bound to have a surprise for us soon. You will thank me.”

The underbrush became a mosaic pattern, making it look like there were ten thousand trails where there should only have been one.

“Are we lost? This is ludicrous–our water is almost gone and this sun is frying us!”

“Well, I think we must be past the half-point of the trail–we should keep going to the end where the campground is.”

Then I stepped on an active beehive. Then the heat, trails, sand paths, POUNDING THROB OF THE HEADNESS, how can I go on? I can’t go on! How can I go on!? I can’t go on!!!

[Symptoms of heat exhaustion include fatigue, dizziness…]

Endless dunes. I’m angry. I’M PISSED OFF! Why won’t this end? SCREW THIS!

[…nausea, muscle cramps… If not treated, heatstroke can be imminent with symptoms…] THEY DID THIS TO ME! THE BLUE HEAVENS OF THE EARTH CAN KISS MY ASS! EVERYONE IS AGAINST ME! I HATE THEM! THEY WANT ME DEAD!

[…of irrational and aggressive behavior…]

SPLAGN I MAKE A HAUSER INTSCH LIFTEINGLEITNEBBERGER!

[…and incoherent speech… this is a life-threatening situation…]

These two angels descending before my eyes, LIGHT UPON THEIR WINGS, MAGIC RINGS TURNED TOWARD ME. Come… let me–

“Yes, you idiot, we are your twin wonder guardian angels; we are here to save your flushed ass. Know this: Heat exhaustion can creep up quickly. It may be too late for you. We should have got here faster. We should have seen your cool moist skin and ushered you off to a cool place, some shade…We should have loosened your clothing and made you comfortable, letting you sip a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes, hovering over you to watch for changes in consciousness. But we didn’t. God was having a party at his place–you understand–there was a big buffet. So our tardiness is why you are now experiencing the symptoms of the much more serious HEAT STROKE! Look at you, pathetic creature, you’re having trouble breathing, rapid weak pulse, temperature approaching… wow, 105 degrees Fahrenheit!”

“Oh my god…”

“Enough talk, time is wasting. We have to do anything whatsoever to cool you down. Wonder Twin Guardian Angel Power ACTIVATE! ‘Form of a Towel Soaked In Cold Water That Is Wrapped Around the Victim!’ ‘Form Of A Japanese Fan to Be Waved Over This Fallen Man!’ There had better be some pineapple leftover at the buffet.”

One experience like that is enough to convince you that grass can turn into sand, lucidity into hostility, and life into death. She was right. She was right. Or if I translate this literally from her native French, “Elle a raison”: “She has reason.”