Lessons learned from the storms of summer

BY BOB WACHS, Columnist
Posted 7/3/20

It’s been said that people have several layers of conversation topics, some safer than others, and that the one(s) we go to when it’s time to talk are determined by our level of relationship with …

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Lessons learned from the storms of summer

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It’s been said that people have several layers of conversation topics, some safer than others, and that the one(s) we go to when it’s time to talk are determined by our level of relationship with those folks we’re talking with.

For instance, we’re not going to tell a total stranger we’ve just met — at least I don’t think we are — that Uncle Fred has skipped bail again or that Aunt Freda is suspected of swiping several thousands of dollars from the local PTA while she was treasurer.

On the other hand, though, we’ll talk all day long with that same stranger about sports or the current state of America — the virus and unrest in the streets, the movies (if you can name any or been to any lately) or the weather. “Weather” is a good topic, whether we like it or not. The next time you find yourself in an elevator going up to the 14th floor and you don’t want to stare at the ceiling or your feet, see if you don’t say to your riding companion something like, “Sure has been hot lately, hasn’t it?”

Will Rogers used to say, among other things, “Everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.”

I would like to report here that I have done much about the recent string of temps in the 90s that are looking toward triple digits ... you know, the ones accompanied by similarly high humidity, thereby producing North Carolina’s familiar summertime muggy weather. For instance, I don’t go out any more than I have to. I have also almost single-handedly caused a rise in the stock value of Lipton ice tea and Gatorade. Recently, I have been burning stumps in my yard in an open-ended barrel and have been accompanied by a very large insulated mug of ice, tea and water.

Has it been hot?

Well, does a wild bear sleep in the woods?

I’m not sure how global warming is faring these days and if any of these temps owe their origins to that. Haven’t heard much about it lately; it has sort of fallen behind the virus in publicity lately. Sometimes I think it’s really for real and then someone tells us another study has disproved that, sort of like the conversation about the virus. All I know is the globe has been pretty warm lately.

I remember as a youngster that in the summer, so it seemed, almost daily we would have what the TV weather geeks like to call “pop-up” (not “Popeye”) showers. I would be outside deep in the seventh or even ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series, bases loaded, two outs, me at bat with a count of 3 and 2 and then... crack!

No, that wasn’t my Louisville Slugger making contact with a 95-mph fastball. Instead it was the collision of a cold front with a warm front — producing thunder — and Mama’s ironclad no-questions-asked rule was, “When you hear it, get in the house.”

I think that’s where my one-time favorite television weather celebrity Greg Fishel, when he was on Channel 5, used to quote the proverb: “If you can hear it, fear it; if you can see it, flee it.” I just didn’t know he knew my mama.

It wasn’t all bad though, those ballgame interruptions of my summer youth. For when they came, I knew a quilt was waiting for me on the floor along with a stack of comic books and a cold bellywasher and plate of cookies, although multiple exposure to those last two items has contributed to the physical specimen I am today. Mama didn’t care how long we rolled around on the quilt; we were just to stay away from doors and windows and, Heaven forbid, do not turn on the water to wash your hands or get a drink from the frig or get near a door or window or pretty much anything else you could think of. Lightning might strike you.

It never did, thank goodness, but sometimes when it’s late at night, bedtime even, and I need a shower and outside it’s raining cats and dogs and thundering to beat the band, I’m still hearing my mama and listening to her.

I do what she told me. No point in running the risk of breaking my perfect string. It’s just that I don’t have any comic books anymore.


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