I would rather blame the heat for my erratic behavior lately than to suggest something more insidious…like creeping stupidity. At best, though, it’s an open question.

Not long ago, on one of the many days we’ve endured recently with temperatures in the 90’s and humidity to match, I pulled into the driveway here at El Rancho Davis at the end of the work day and lowered both front windows all the way as I shut the engine off. Karen, naturally, questioned my reasoning and I tossed off a quick rejoinder that “We both know we’ll be coming back out later,” for any one of a dozen errands, so why let the heat build up in a tightly closed auto? She showed skepticism but went inside anyway.

Twice during the evening I snapped Maizie’s leash on her and ventured forth for a bit of a walk-about. Twice I glanced at the two open windows and made a mental note to close them before going in. But the little Sheltie’s needs supersede all others during these nightly outings and I instantly forgot the windows both times. Nothwithstanding the fact that she is descended from generations of highly energetic working dogs going back possibly thousands of years, she’s a long-haired, heavily coated mostly black dog. I’m thinking she’s less comfortable than I am in the heat, so I urge her to hurry up and find the right blade of grass to desecrate with doggy byproduct. Not until I’m positively dripping with sweat and slapping the life (and my own blood) out of a hundred thirsty mosquitoes, does she finally settle on a likely target.

The upshot is, I never gave the car windows a thought and of course, long about 4:00 AM a cloudburst swamped the interior of our lovely little Nissan Sentra, a fact I noticed right away when I took the fastidious little mutt out at 6:30 that morning. I quickly snagged a couple of towels and went quietly out the door to wipe down the upholstery and leave one folded neatly on each sodden front seat. I actually had to fire up the defroster for a minute to clear the windshield.

You just can’t slip anything past the master of “I told you…”! She was on my case like a duck on a June Bug as soon as we left the house for work. I was only partially redeemed by being able to point out it was she who left the Pepperidge Farms Coconut Layer Cake box out on the kitchen counter the night before…the one that Maizie tore to tiny bits in the living room and feasted on the remaining crumbs of, overnight. It’s a fine line between the effects of heat and humidity, and creeping stupidity.

That same day, I finished up with my list of transports at the Assisted Living Facility in Waverly, and headed for the parking spot in which I traditionally park the transport van. Three minutes later, the van and I are a quarter mile up the road, headed down Chemung Street in the village, when I suddenly remembered I had set out to park the ten-seater. Fortunately a quick right hand turn put me on the street that takes me to the Facility by the back way. No one had to know my mind had overheated and wandered off to parts unknown. But of course there was an audience of my beloved seniors sitting on the veranda as I parked the van and walked the keys back inside for the night. They let me know I hadn’t gotten away clean.

The following morning I was recounting my tales of brain slippage to my coffee mates at Carl’s Newsstand, and was gratified to discover I’m not alone in my shame. Another of the regulars there told his own story of “What was I thinking?” The evidence for heat madness mounted immediately. This young man, at least 30-35 years my junior, I’m sure, admitted in front of a room full of witnesses that he found his car keys in the freezer that morning, and a bag of chips in the fridge. Heat madness. No doubt about it.

We here at El Rancho, have contemplated the purchase of a good-sized lean-in freezer, but I’m beginning to have my doubts. Will heat madness overwhelm my already addled mind and convince me to crawl inside, folding myself around the frozen peas and the meatloafs, head tucked neatly beneath the ice cube trays? I can almost see the news story headline: Local Columnist Found Frozen, Holding a Fudgesicle To His Mouth.

And in the story beneath the headline, ”Wife laments, “I can’t believe he ate the last one.””

We are the proud owners of a water dispenser…one of those things that holds a five gallon inverted jug of delicious, cold water that would normally last for a couple of weeks at least, and sometimes quite a bit longer. Heat madness has driven me to guzzling H2O in unbelievable quantities. I positively slosh as I walk around the house. And even walking around the house is more of a chore than it’s worth. Two air conditioners, five ceiling fans, a table fan and a pedestal fan that rotates in a 180-degree arc…all that and the house itself cries out for relief from the thermometer.

I’ve taken to sneaking out of the house in pajama shorts and a flimsy old robe and slippers to drag out the garden hose before the sun crests the horizon in the east. Even the mosquitoes are scared away by the sight of bone-white shins sticking out of the bottom of a tattered old threadbare plaid rag of a robe. My brother in law whipped his car into the driveway one pre-dawn day and told me in no uncertain terms to stop scaring the neighborhood. The family across the road from me actually moved away. On more than one occasion I’ve been halfway through my itinerary of flowerbeds before I realize I’ve forgotten to turn on the water. Heat madness.

The sun fairly leaps above the hills like a blast furnace in the Sahara and I’m instantly coated with sweat that forces the pitiful old robe to conform to my ludicrous physique. And yet I stay, plodding stoically from petunia to dahlia, to perennials whose names I know not. They just show up each year and throw themselves at my mercy. Poor, sad things.

Legend has it that King Henry II of England, when his Arch Bishop of Canterbury, Thomas ‘A Becket, bested him at every turn, cried out in a fit of madness, “Will no one rid me of this low born clerk?” I fancy myself as Henry, crying out through scorched and cracked lips in a dry rasping voice, “Will no one rid me of this low born heat?” I wonder if Henry had pajama shorts…

Contact Lloyd Davis at ldpsu74@yahoo.com

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