I write and publish on a free publishing site called Associated Content. They offered for me to write about the heat in NY during our heat wave a few weeks back. Well I did, and I submitted the piece, but it never got read, let alone critiqued. So, here it is. Enjoy…
By: Juda Engelmayer
When the meteorologists predicted that New York City would see heat to break records, I rolled my eyes. Usually, when they predict snow storms beyond our capacity to shovel it, we get a teaser flurry, shutting schools a day in advance, only to be disappointed when the snow mounds fail to materialize. It is funny how New Yorkers dread snow when we’re in the ominous gray days of winter, but long for the snow, no matter how deep when the hot summer sets in.
Indeed records broke, as temperatures climbed over 100 degrees, something I had not experienced since our visit to Arizona a few years back when an Arizonian who heard me complaining said, “at least it’s a dry heat”. Really! My sweat glands didn’t seem to differentiate. Hot is hot.
My dog doesn’t want to be walked, and, counter-intuitively, drinks less to keep from having to go. She, who chases every opportunity to get out of the apartment, spread her deep black haired body across the wooden floor right in the path of the blowing air conditioner and played dead for hours. The air conditioner struggles to keep the room below 80 degrees as the windows and brick walls trap heat in here like an old solid commercial baking oven.
My wife and I own a bialy bakery on the Lower East Side, and we use a custom built, three quarter century old brick oven; it is never turned off. During those few days, even with the oven on its lowest setting, you could hear a pin drop in the store without a customer in sight. It was too hot to walk, especially into a place with a huge oven and no air conditioning. The oven, and the baker baking attracts customers and tourists. Yet, this heat defeats even the largest units, and a larger one would probably draw enough energy to cause another electricity grid failure which would make it even worse for business.
As I had to head to midtown to meet a business associate, I considered my traveling options. My bicycle would cause me to sweat, and I needed to look proper. The subway was out, as news reported the heat index reached upward of 125 degrees in some stations. A cab is hard to find on days like today, and just the thought of the odor from a driver who had already been driving for 12 hours conserving fuel with the windows down between fares just made me nauseous. So, I opted for my favorite ride anyway, my silver Moto Guzzi Norge with the 1200cc engine cranking out the heat and horsepower.
Forget looking proper, I wore shorts and a polo shirt; seemingly sensible. I donned my open faced helmet and thought the ride would be awesome. Was I wrong. The hot air rushed at me on the FDR Drive and I felt as if I stuck my face inside my bialy oven at full heat. The beautiful V-twin engine’s heat only inflamed the agony. Off the highway and on the streets, the road tar melted on my tires as I roasted at the perpetual red lights along the way.
Eventually I managed to get to my destination. I rolled backward into a spot alongside an assembly of bikes near the Penn South Cooperative and felt the swelter from the others that had recently been parked. In wonder, I watched the people walk down the street; working men in long pants and dress shirts, some even wearing suits, and working women in sun dresses and flip flops; I wondered who got the better end of the equal rights movement. I walked to the bistro for my meeting and sat down. Within seconds, the waiter gave me a cool glass with ice and water which sent a pain rushing down my throat as I took it all in at once.
I now know that a day like today must have been the inspiration for the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the City”. Nothing else was in my head except those lyrics burned into my memory.