It’s been quite warm outside in this strange, unexpected season I call non-winter.
Summer, you say it’s named? Well, OK, I’ll take your word for it.
But even if I didn’t know the scientific term, I do know that it’s been hot.
Why? Because Mayor Menino recently e-mailed to tell me so.
Oh, I suspected the days were getting warmer. I myself may still have my snow tires on, but I’d noticed that most Bostonians have put away their winter parking-spot savers. Still, I wasn’t completely sure until the mayor’s e-mail arrived in my in-box, urging me to “take precautions as heat continues.”
But what kind of precautions? Should I stockpile ice? Shelter in my cellar?
Fortunately, the mayor had drawn on his long experience in these climes to offer some helpful advice. I should, he urged, “stay hydrated and in shaded or air-conditioned areas whenever possible.” And limit my activities.
So far so good. Then came this: “Avoid beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol.” It will be a cold day in hell when it gets hot enough for that to happen, if you get my drift. I’m a journalist, after all.
If I have to venture outside, the mayor continued, I should “limit strenuous activity, wear sunscreen . . . and rest often in cool, shady places.” Hmm. Was City Hall’s merry prankster trying to trick me into working a police detail?
But this was no joke. The heat loomed so, um, hot that the mayor even advised that I should stop cooking and start taking cool showers. Nor was hizzoner focused merely on me. I was gratified to learn that the city had made 30,000 robocalls to tell other elderly-ish residents that it was hot out — and to provide them with similarly savvy summer survival suggestions.
And yet, once alerted to the news that summer sometimes brings hot weather, I found myself worrying that the mayor hadn’t covered every possible base. And since I’ve long helped him run this city, after exhaustive research, I have some advice of my own to offer — in the odd chance that the heat returns.
1. If you’ve just bought one of last winter’s leftover parkas for half-price at the Eddie Bauer Outlet, resist the urge to wear it home. A heat wave puts T riders in a sour mood, and humid hooligans jealous of your bargain might steal your new garment, as they did with poor Akaky’s overcoat in Gogol’s story. So ask for a shopping bag.
2. Given the several meanings of the term “hot,” be careful how you impart heat-beating advice to colleagues. Regardless of your gender, avoid saying, “Wow, you look super hot. Why don’t you strip off some clothes?” to a coworker of the opposite sex.
3. You’re a devoted bicyclist, but with the sun beating down, your brake handles are simply too hot to touch. The best solution? Ride with no hands. This has the added advantage of leaving your fingers free to text or e-mail, as a recent rider was doing as he pedaled against traffic on Charles Street. It’s true you won’t be able to slow down for busy intersections, but if you keep your earbuds in and your music loud, it’s easy to ignore the angry honking.
4. Although the name might hint otherwise, “hot sauce” is not the best summer-season condiment.
5. Despite its drawbacks, the heat does provide for fascinating conversational opportunities. For instance, when your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, comes through the door looking thoroughly fried, plops down in a chair, and complains about how hot it is, furrow your brow, and impart: “It’s not the heat per se, it’s the humidity.” That will endear you to them. Trust me.
By now, some of you are no doubt thinking: But Scot, you are avoiding the really difficult issue. What if you lost a rash Stanley Cup bet and thus have to spend an entire day sitting on a pole high above City Hall Plaza clad in nothing but your underwear and a “Blackhawks Rule” sash?
That, admittedly, is a tough one. My best advice: Try to go double or nothing.
And if that doesn’t work? Well, call the mayor. He’ll know what to do.