Heat already has me beat, and it’s not over yet

“Hot enough for you?”

“Ever been punched in the neck?”

Sorry. That’s been the response in my head every time I’ve been asked that question this summer. Hot enough for what? Do you think I’m trying to cook scrapple on my forehead? Do I look like someone who has the goal of spontaneously combusting every time I walk outside, and 97 degrees just isn’t cutting it?

Is it hot enough for me? Please.

I know, I know. It’s an easy way for a person to offer a friendly greeting, and I’m not opposed in any way to someone reaching out and trying to make another’s life a little nicer with a simple gesture. But... is it hot enough for me?

I’m closing in on 50, I’m 30 pounds overweight and the last time I got even remotely close to exercising was when I happened to glance down and realized one of my shoes was untied. I didn’t bend over to tie it or anything, mind you, but just the act of looking down gave me heart palpitations and made me want to celebrate my physical exertion with a seven-scoop bowl of ice cream, chased by a double bacon cheeseburger.

Heat stinks, and I mean that literally. I feel like there is a distinct odor that comes with a temperature more than 90 degrees, and I just can’t seem to ignore it. In fact, the only way I can ever seem to escape that smell is to change my shirt and... oh, you think there’s a connection there? Regardless, I can do without the scalding temperatures that have accompanied much of July.

“Hey, at least it isn’t 120 degrees,” my one always-optimistic friend suggested.

“Hey, at least you’re just as ugly as yesterday, and twice as stupid,” I countered.

In heat’s defense, I’m not an enormous fan of cold temperatures, either. Anything below 40 degrees should just be used to keep beer cold, and under 10 degrees seems like a cruel joke perpetrated by the Eskimos to punish the rest of us for making fun of the way they kiss with their noses.

In fact, I’ve noticed over the years that our resident Eskimo Shaun Lambert seems particularly happy when the temps fall below freezing, and he astounds the rest of the office when he shows up to work in January in short sleeves and flip-flops while the rest of us are wearing enough layers to offer adequate protection in case an impromptu sword fight breaks out in the conference room.

Shaun’s weird. If you didn’t know that about him already, there you have it. The guy’s a cold-loving freak of nature who gets excited every time he sees snow in the forecast or there’s ice on the road. As a trade-off, he looks like he might melt away into a 6’3” puddle of liquid Eskimo when the temps rise above 53 degrees and...

But I digress.

As much as I loathe the cold, the heat is a much-more agonizing climate for me. In the winter, you can just keep adding on those aforementioned layers of clothing until you feel like you can stand the temperature. Sure, you might look like a tick that just wrapped up a four-day feeding frenzy on the back of a wooly mammoth, but at least you’ll be warm — and you know that everybody other than Shaun Lambert looks equally as ridiculous.

But when it’s hot outside? How many layers of clothes can you take off before you start getting odd looks and they ask you to get off the bus?

None. The answer, I’ve learned over the years, is none. They tend to throw you off the bus as soon as you take off that first layer.

You might have more luck than I have, but when you take off your shirt and you resemble a hairy lava lamp, people tend to voice their distate quite vociferously. When you start with a layer other than your shirt, well, you might have the opportunity to meet a law enforcement officer who has 7 million better things to do with his or her time than wrestle a sweaty middle-aged man off a bus.

At least, that’s been my experience.

Yes, the temperatures have cooled down a bit this week, and it has been quite a bit more bearable outside, but don’t be fooled. That heat that had me sweating Ragu and gravy on Saturday will indeed return soon enough, and it usually makes an imposing appearance during the Senior League Softball World Series in Roxana, slated to kick off on Monday, July 31.

In the interests of full disclosure, it’s important to note that I have absolutely zero scientific data to speculate that it will be stifling hot next week at the World Series. In fact, the long-range forecasts I’ve seen for the dates in question don’t look too bad, at all.

But this will be the 14th year we have covered nearly every game of the Series, and my 13th year doing so, and I can confidently tell you this — at some point next week, there will be a bald guy sitting on the metal bleachers with a notebook in his hand and a tear in his eye, hoping for an arctic blast to knock some of the red off his head.

(Pssst... I’m the bald guy.)

The only two consolations I will get from that heat are that I’ll be watching some of the best young softball players in the world compete right in front of me, and Shaun Lambert will be looking even more miserable than me as he meets me at the concession stand between games.

And I’ll look him right in the eye and ask, “Hot enough for you?”