Riding a Heat Wave of Misery

The misery of a heat wave is something that can't really be quantified, only endured. Commentator Laura Lorson remembers some of the worst summers she has lived through — and how she finally came to terms with the blistering Julys and Augusts where she lives.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Much of the country has been struggling with record-high temperatures this week. Commentator Laura Lorson has lived in a number of hot places, and she's never gotten used to it.

LAURA LORSON:

I hate the heat. I mean, I really hate the heat. When I was a smarty-pants, know-it-all kid, I would tell my heat-loving friends, `It's not natural. Humans have done as well as they have done because they could adapt to the cold. We are not designed to keep cool very well.' They would smirk and go off to eat hot things and sit in the sun some more.

A lot of this anger and bitterness, grant you, probably has to do with my body image issues. Sure, it's all well and good if you are 18 and slender and cute and get to wear spaghetti-strapped tank tops and short shorts. Who wouldn't like the heat then? But I, as a veteran of the plus-size rack, miserably pull out the baggy shorts and a loose-fitting shirt and swelter summer after summer.

It didn't help that I lived in Washington, DC, for a good portion of my adult life. No air conditioning, pre-World War I building, I would invariably get to the second week of July and start cursing Pierre L'Enfant and the people who set up the city. Who builds a national capital in the middle of a swamp? When I came back to Kansas, I was in for more of the same. Kansas is flat hot in the summer. The sun becomes your enemy, this blazing-hot, impersonal thing that wants you to wither and fail and die.

Finally, I decided that raging at the terrible heat was a lot like shouting at the rain and to embrace it. So what if I'm horribly sticky and grumpy and hot? I started to avoid air-conditioned spaces. My rules were to eat very little, drink lots of water and try to keep my temperature constant, not running in and out of cool spaces. And within a week I was finding a strange, wonderful sensation. I felt like I was truly interacting with nature instead of railing against it.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that air conditioning isn't the best invention since pizza by the slice. I'm not crazy, you know. I'm just saying sometimes it's neither the heat nor the humidity. It's the expectation and the attitude.

ROBERT SIEGEL (Host): Laura Lorson lives in Perry, Kansas.

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