Monday, December 9, 2013

Think Kit #9: Modern Humans Are Pathetic

Last Fall, I moved out of the Eastside duplex (Little Flower, represent) I'd inhabited for five years. Though I ended up there by accident (my old roommate, Andy, was moving to Indianapolis --> I decided I wanted to move to Indianapolis --> His sister lived across the street and told us about the place), it really did feel like home.

But, the 25-minute commute to Broad Ripple ate at my soul – yeah, I hate driving unless I'm going on a trip. Commuting farther than that is a sin greater than gluttony in my book ( book is weird), and yes, I'm aware that I'm a weird-o in a city that if you are car-less (like I was for 6 months a couple years ago), treats you like a mental patient. "You don't have a car? What do you do...ride the bus?" ("Riding the bus" being the equivalent of pigs flying. Or the cows coming home. It just doesn't happen.)

(The weather was so nasty, I had to dig out the coolest
shirt I owned – this vintage 70s track & field jersey
from my Dad's old school, Maconaquah.)

So! Late last Fall we moved up to Broad Ripple. (Well, technically Meridian Kessler – not So Bro...that's not a word and doesn't exist.) It was closer to work. It was more bike-able/walk-able, and we wanted to go down to one car. We ended up renting an older bungalow that needs some fixin' up – windows, walls, facilities, and whatnot. Oh, and there's no Central A/C.

"It's only one summer," we said to each other. "Probably." Besides, there were some window units in the basement, although it turned out that our ancient window frames couldn't support the mammoth, 1980s-era mothballed machines, save for one little plastic guy, which we installed in the bedroom.

You're waiting for the surprise? Indiana summers aren't the worst, right? And this one had way less 100-degree days. But all of those humid, upper 80 and mid-90-degree steamers, for what felt like two-and-a-half solid months – holy shit. I woke up sweating. I went to bed sweating. I cooked all Summer (we generally cook 6 nights a week) in my underwear, if that.

I ran 5-milers and attempted to cool off on the porch. No dice. My sweat dripped off my body and pooled on the stained concrete. Our cats hung limply beneath desks, on the cool tile of the hearth, and whenever possible, when the slightest breeze tickled their drooping whiskers, on the screened-in porch. We ate cold salads, drank heavily iced gin & tonics, and I even sprung for a box fan that made it impossible to hear anything streaming on Netflix.

(Late-summer okra. It gets tall, the vegetables get big,
and you have to pick through the sticky stalks
and use kitchen shears to snap off the smaller,
more tender pods.)

During the Labor Day heat wave, Amelia was canning late-season vegetables, boiling a 5-gallon pot in order to sanitize and pressurize jars full of pickled okra. I doubled-up in the kitchen to bake a loaf of bread – the combination of all three forms of heat liquified my brain, and for a few minutes, I genuinely worried that I was going crazy. I imagined laying in the yard, beneath the maple tree, in my underwear and sideburns, reserved neighbors staring out from their freon-pumping-tombs, calling the non-emergency-line and then turning back to their big screens.

"I'm fine!" I would yell. "It's just too fucking hot in my house!"

My brain gradually unscrambled. I thought about my parents, growing up in small town Indiana, sleeping in the short-ceilinged bungalows that lined small streets. No air conditioning. Two brothers sharing a bed. They were tougher than I thought. I crawled up to the porch swing, and my skin stuck to the wood.

Modern humans are pathetic.


  1. Whoa! My okra never grows that tall.

    1. I wish I could take credit – that was courtesy of Amelia's Grandparents. They know a thing or two 'bout okra.