If you can’t stand the heat, sit in a washtub

Published 12:29 am Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I shouldn’t be surprised it’s hot this time of the year. After all, it’s summer. What should I expect in July – snow? Well, it’s snowing somewhere in this world. I’d much rather have some snow cream than a snow cone these sweltering days.

And it’s bound to get hotter. Those dog days of August are ahead of us. Don’t pity the dogs; they can jump in the Pamlico River, a pond, a pool or a washtub filled with water to cool off. For the most part, they don’t need anyone’s permission to do so. They don’t have to worry about bathing suits, either.

I don’t believe our publisher, Ray McKeithan, would permit me leave the office anytime I desired to cool off in my favorite way – the Slip ’N Slide. If he ever gets a chance to throw me in the Pamlico River, well, I could find myself asking the River Roving pontoon boat to fish me out of the water. The boat’s captain could brag about rescuing a whale in Washington’s harbor.

I read the other day where Paula Deen, she of culinary fame on the Food Network, was cited for having five chickens cooped up at her house near Savannah, Ga.

Apparently, zoning regulations in her area of Chatham County, Ga., don’t permit her to have those chickens. Well, I’m worried about those chickens. I worry, that in this dehydrating heat, those chickens could be laying powdered eggs.

For people who legally have chickens at home, please feed them crushed ice so they will not lay hard-boiled eggs.

I worry this heat and drought will result in watermelons still in the field requiring transfusions of bottled water to survive and make it to market.

If it gets much hotter, look for corn to begin popping on the stalk, and not just the corn used for popcorn. Once that corn begins to pop, forget using the tractor to spray insecticide on the corn. Spray that corn with melted butter, then broadcast some salt on that corn.

Speaking of the Slip ’N Slide, how did I cool off before it first appeared in 1961? I have vague memories of running through a sprinkler used to water the lawn. I recall summers so hot that worms would come out of the ground to fill their worm-size water coolers with water from the sprinkler. I recall sitting in washtubs – when I fit in a washtub – to cool off. I made sure I waited until the washtub was filled with water before sitting in it. Sitting in a sunbaked washtub before cool water was added was akin to baking one’s buns – and you know which buns to which I refer.

Then it happened. The Slip ’N Slide came along. I was 6 years old when that momentous occasion arrived. It was the best thing since, well, grape-flavored Kool-Aid at Vacation Bible School. Why someone didn’t come up with a Slip ’N Slide that used water flavored with grape Kool-Aid baffles me to this day. Perhaps the thought of purple-colored children walking around the neighborhood worried parents.

Well, if this heat continues, and it will, I may just have to borrow a chapter out of the Al Bundy playbook. Remember Al? He was the father on “Married … With Children.” Al was too cheap to buy a decent air-conditioner to cool his family and his home. Instead, the Bundys decided to hang out near the frozen-food section of the local grocery store.

It’s not a bad idea, if you can get away with it. You stay cool while someone else pays the bill for the electricity used to run the grocery store’s freezers.

I wonder what would happen if I set up a lounge chair next to the frozen-food section at any grocery store in the Washington area? My guess is that I’d be tossed into the cooler, as in another word for jail.

I wonder if Wham-O makes a Slip ’N Slide for older folks – one that uses liniment instead of water?

Mike Voss covers the city of Washington for the Washington Daily News. In this heat, his thoughts turn to watermelon-flavored snow cream. No problem finding watermelons. As for snow, well, he could resort to scraping frost off the sides of an old freezer that’s not of the frost-free variety.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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