These words will end up being stuffed right back inside my mouth, and that is a reality I am comfortable with. This is because I am impulsive, and I have a strong impulse to write them, even if I know the consequence is likely to involve future humiliation.
I moved to Houston 10 days ago, and practically every person I have met here has almost immediately warned me about the weather in July, as if I should be preparing for the Apocalypse.
Now, I don’t want to suggest that I am not concerned with this. Every morning when I take the dog out, I fear that this will be the day the sidewalk vaporizes beneath my feet, leaving me walking barefoot (my sandals would have melted, too) though a bayou of molten concrete and hobo excrement.
And I further recognize that Houston is legitimately scorching. I read somewhere it was the “sweatiest” city in the United States. This I suppose could have been a measure of obesity, or of physical exertion, or the exertion of the obese, but considering the heat seems to be the main thing anyone wants to tell you about Houston, I’m assuming it was a comment on the climate.
ANYWAY, all of this has made me realize that most people do not have a clear conception of the climate in the lower midwest. Kansas, I keep wanting to point out, is not exactly North Dakota.
Recently, someone warned me that in the summertime here it will “get into the 90s with 90 percent humidity.” This was delivered like a grave warning. At the risk of sounding smug, I am, uh, familiar with that kind of heat.
So these are the words I am expecting to be eating in somewhere between 15 and 45 days: I know heat.
I have been incredibly hot in Kansas. One-hundred-degrees-in-the-shade hot. Football-practice-in-full-pads-at-3 p.m.-on-a-102-degree-day hot. Step-outside-at-8 a.m.-and-start-dripping hot. So hot it makes you incredulous the human race survived in Kansas long enough to make it to the inventions of air conditioning and Gatorade.
In the past year, I have interviewed for jobs in Columbia, South Carolina and Memphis, and this same thing happened to me there. If you live south of Interstate 70 (what I call the Great Barbecue Divide), you most likely assume Kansas is more like Nebraska than Oklahoma*.
*I know some Kansans will disagree with me, but even from a cultural perspective I’ve always felt Kansas was more closely related to Oklahoma than Nebraska or Iowa.
Even though Kansas has both brutal winters and brutal summers, the thing everyone south of it notices is the winters. Which makes sense. Humans are constantly doing things like that. When I was 8 and we lived in Indiana, I remember thinking Kansas, where my grandmother and cousins lived, was some kind of desert wasteland. This probably had a lot to do with a photo of my cousin playing in my grandmother’s yard, a yard in which all the grass was completely yellow and dead on account of some wicked drought that must have occurred in about 1989.
But still. Because it was hotter than Indiana, Kansas was therefore HOT. And I think that’s what happens with people from Houston. Because Kansas is sometimes cooler than Texas, it is always cooler than Texas.
That all said, I could go for a Gatorade.