Heat

     Heat exhaustion is interesting.
     I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, except a member of the Tea Party, but still …
     I never thought I’d get it because I’m a guy, and guys don’t get stuff like that. We don’t admit it, anyway. Rub some dirt on it, we say. But this seemed to come from my brain, and my brain don’t need any more dirt on it.
     New England has been panting through a heat wave this week, and it’s been no fun at all. I got sick because every time the Tour de France starts I think I’m Lance Armstrong.
     But I ain’t.
     A hundred and one degrees was nothing to me when I lived on the rez in southern Arizona … back then. Never mind when. It was a while ago. I remember the day it was 128 degrees in the shade. Only there’s no shade, unless you want to lean up against a big old saguaro.
     When it’s that hot, the sun feels like poison. It really does. Even wearing a long-sleeved shirt, just standing in the sun makes you nauseous – instantly. Sensible people sleep all day and live at night, like a photo negative of some sort of Scandinavian Winter in Hell.
     Since I’d lived through that, I figured there was nothing to it when I set out on a bike ride a week ago. Just 20 miles of hills, with a big whomping mountain at the turnaround. I’ve been a lot farther than that, and up bigger hills than that … back when.
     I got home and stumbled into the shower and to bed. And I had a dream.
     I was playing some stupid video game, shooting space aliens and dinosaurs with my ray guns. I was knocking off those Martians like crazy, shooting with both hands. I was so hot people crowded around me to watch – people I hadn’t seen since college, 30 years ago. OK, 40 years ago. Don’t change the subject.
     The video graphics in that game were really something. Stuff exploded and flashed and whirred and jangled. The screen kept flashing and bonging and giving me more weapons, and the enemies got sparklier and more dangerous and the crowd kept growing and pressing in. The last enemies I remember were some big dinosaurs. I killed them and the lights flashed and I killed some spacemen and then a gigantic dinosaur appeared, so big all I could see was its haunches.
     I woke up and those lights kept flashing: jangling and whirring and sizzling in my brain. Sizzle is the word for it – sizzle in my brain. It wouldn’t stop. For two days.
     I’m in pretty good shape. I got up that mountain. But for those two days my muscles ached – it hurt to climb a stair. I’d just cranked it up a mountain, and now it hurt to climb one stair.
     The sizzling in my brain was so strange. Nothing visual, no lights, no sounds, just the feeling of electricity flashing and sizzling in my brain. Perpetual semi-nausea and weakness. Wobbliness Was Me.
     Toward dusk of the second day, as the heat wave clamped down, I accidentally sprayed myself with cold water as I filled up the wading pool for the dogs. Man, that water was cold. It woke me up, and the sizzling in my brain went out.
     It was a rough week – 101 degrees in still, humid air. We have no air-conditioning. You don’t need air-conditioning in Vermont.
     By the time you read this, the heat wave is supposed to be over. I hope so. I could stand a fierce thunderstorm and a cold front too, and so could the dogs.
     So, that’s the story of my heat exhaustion. Don’t you get it. It’s no fun – but it’s interesting. I hope I don’t get it again. It would be a terrible thing for me to get another bout of this strange malady, as I kick Lance Armstrong’s butt up that mountain.

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