Living in a dog’s mouth builds character

I’m sure we can all agree that those with air conditioning are lesser beings.

They don’t suffer the elements the way we do but simply chill in the climate-change-inducing false reality of their refrigerated pseudo-lives.

My parents got AC when I was about to leave the nest, and I’ve never lived in an air-conditioned apartment or home since then. I reckon that’s why I have become the ubermensch I am today.

I went to a neighbor’s house the other day and I swear it was 64 degrees in there. This is how ridiculous Minnesota has become: 64 inside in the summertime; 76 in the middle of winter.

It should be just the opposite, of course, but as the world circles the drain we flush again. It’s like the oil companies melting the Arctic sea ice, then saying, “Great! More ocean to drill!”

One of my favorite writers compares the deep south in summer to the inside of a dog’s mouth. We’ve had a taste of that in recent weeks with record-breaking heat across the northland.

When we were kids in the ‘burbs, there were three ways to deal with the heat: sprinkler, lake and other lake. When I was too young to walk to the lake, Mom would let me turn on the sprinkler to cool off.

As I got older, I could walk or bike to Lake Owasso, where taxpayer dollars paid for a free lifeguard and a raft to jump off of. If I had a dime I could buy an ice cream sandwich. Last time I went there was no lifeguard, no raft and no ice cream.

When I could finally bike or drive the eight miles, I’d choose White Bear Lake, where all the pretty girls were, because by then I cared more about them than I did about doing a can opener off the raft. Now the lake is running out of water, and the old beach looks like a hayfield.

Nowadays we have to preserve tax cuts for the rich, so we flush public sector investments like public beaches. It doesn’t matter, though, since today’s kids won’t swim in a mucky lake. They need a warm pool in a cold building on a hot day.

When we were kids, if we were desperate for air conditioning, there was always the mall or the movie theater, which my kids and I chose on the 4th of July for a little respite from the heat.

That was after taking advantage of the heat-beating methods of my middle age: hose, river, brother’s pool, and cold hot tub.

Rob wrote a few weeks ago about his “Hillbilly hot tub,” which has become his hillbilly swimming pool during the heatwave. I have a hippie hot tub — wood-fired with a submerged stove — which has been serving the same purpose for me.

July 4 I spent an hour in the morning and another in the evening floating in an inner tube in the 7-foot cold tub. It’s the nearest thing to heaven, when it’s hotter than you-know-where.

The secret is to cool your core. Once you do that, you’re good for another hour or two of Phoenix heat plus Bangkok humidity. For a while, the dog’s mouth never felt so good, then it’s back in the tub, or the river, or the pool, or under the hose.

Unless, of course, you are a lesser being and your house is artificially cooled by one of those carbon-spewing, soul-stealing air conditioners.

What? Jealous? You think I’m jealous?

That’s like you being jealous of my riding mower. No, really, I admire the way you push yours around the yard every week. It builds character. Even moreso considering it’s not self propelled.

You’re a better man than I when it comes to mowing. But when it comes to braving the elements, neighbor, I’ve got you beat hands down.

Brett Larson is the editor of the Messenger.


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