Summertime in Houston, Texas. Why, God?

I grew up in north Texas and make no mistake, it gets plenty hot there. I worked as a plumber’s helper in 1980 when the temperature reached 114. I just melted into a puddle right in the ditch we were digging when the radio announced it excitedly. Of course they were indoors. I had to crawl into someplace shady and cool off where it was only 105. We had multiple summers with more than 30 days in a row over 100 degrees. When it doesn’t get below 95 at night and your A/C dies of exhaustion, and the repairmen are working 24 hours a day, it’s hot.

“But it’s a dry heat” How many times have you heard that?

Yes, it’s dry, just like an oven. In the summer in north Texas you can literally cook an egg on the sidewalk. They show it on the news every year.  By the way, NEVER lean against the side of a car that has been parked outside in the Dallas area in July. Trust me. I have the scars and the laryngitis from the loud screaming to prove it. It’s not an issue so much anymore, but when I was a teenager, vinyl seats were still popular and heaven help you if you if you ever sat on a vinyl car seat or touched the plastic steering wheel that’s been in the sun all day.

“Hey Jack, what’s that smell? Did you cook bacon in here? What’s sizzling? OOOOOOWWWWWWW! HOT HOT HOT!”  As you leap outside and try to find something cool to pour on your scalded backside and legs. Heaven help you if you were wearing shorts! Even if you weren’t scalded, the sweat factor just from sitting on them was horrible. Ah, but what a breeze to clean. Hose that seat down and you were good to go.

That’s the heat I grew up in and I got used to it. Played outside in the oven as kids. Worked in the oven as a teenager, and played high school and college football in the oven. You know,  when you think of college football and those nice cool days? Those happen the last 3 weeks of the season in north Texas.The rest of the time it is oven ball. When I graduated and started working, I did like everyone else. I avoided the oven and ran indoors as fast as I could and cranked the A/C down to 65….until the $400 electric bill came. Then it went back up to 78 and I sat under the fan, trying not to move or breathe too deeply. .

In 2003 I got my dream job, working at the best cancer hospital in the world. That’s the good news. The bad part is that the hospital is located in Houston, Texas, the largest petrochemically enhanced concrete sauna in the US. Houston is deep in southeast Texas, 40 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and to say it is humid is to call a lake “wet”. This job had come open 3 times before and I didn’t even consider it because it was in Houston. I had always sworn I would never live here because it is so humid and miserable in the summer. Plus, being a big guy and prone to sweat, I was afraid of chronic dehydration and the bills I would encounter buying cases of deodorant, fans, and underarm stain remover. I am very practical.

They tricked me though. I interviewed in October, 2003 ,  a year that was unseasonably mild. “This isn’t bad at all. I can deal with this. Yes! I would love to work here!” So we came and relocated in the winter, which was nothing compared to the north Texas winter. Spring was lovely. Houston really has amazing azaleas and the wildflowers are wonderful.  But then, one day in late spring 2004, the life was sucked from me the moment I stepped outside. Imagine your are in a sauna that is about 30 degrees too hot and you are struggling to breathe. Now imagine that a giant vacuum suddenly takes the remaining air from the booth as you struggle to find the door handle, sweat pouring from every pore, hands fumbling, eyes blurry.

“Are you allright?” they asked me as I stumbled my way to my car, which appeared to be parked on the moon. It looked like I had been drowned. My eyes burned, I needed windshield wipers on my face. I would have gladly ridden the outside of the space shuttle rocket engine to the moon since it certainly would be cooler. Holy cow, it was only 90 degrees! The humidity was 1000%. Water was sweating, making the freshwater lakes turn salty. It was “a tad muggy”.

“Is it always like this? I gasped, wiping the sweat from my face for the zillionth time, trying to open the door and locate some air conditioning.

“Yeah today’s nice isn’t it? Wait till summer”, casually leaving me to melt onto the pavement.

Voice barely above a whisper “You mean it gets worse? Why, God? Was there an overabundance of mosquitoes in India and you had to give them some place to feel comfortable? Was it necessary to balance the moisture problem in Texas so ALL the humidity had to rest here? West Texas could sure use some. i’m not stingy! Can you spread the wealth?” I couldn’t tell if these were tears or sweat drops staining the pavement. I just know it wasn’t rain because every drop came out of me. .

That was over 8 years ago. I have become acclimated somewhat and while It still gets breath-takingly hot and humid here, the weather the rest of the year is quite nice. Summer runs from May to October, though. Not being able to stay indoors the entire time since the Houston Human Habitrail System has yet to be invented,  I have learned to hydrate well, buy the extra desert dry deodorant, and wear a t-shirt under my other shirt because it actually does help. I also make sure the AC is tuned up regularly at home and in the car. It is a true safety precaution here. Well, I need to go but I think my description of Houston has become quite popular. I heard this commercial just yesterday. .

“Ya’ll come see us down here in Houston. We do everything big. College and professional sports, the arts, and world class  restaurants and retail. We have been voted “Fattest City in America” 3 years running and heck,  we’re the biggest petrochemically enhanced concrete sauna in the south. We’ve got it all. Come this summer and we’ll even throw in a free aerial tour of the city. Using our expertise hosting the world’s largest rodeo, we have trained the world’s biggest mosquitoes to give you the ride of your life. Houston. We’re hot, humid, and you might drown in your own sweat, but we know how to  have a good time!”

4 thoughts on “Summertime in Houston, Texas. Why, God?

  1. I lived in Dallas in the summer of 1980. It was record heat!! And yes, they did fry eggs in the sun. They also baked cookies inside a car. I learned to always leave the windows open just a bit to avoid overheating the inside of the car. My apartment that summer was an “all utilities paid” place. I set the A/C at 80 and I don’t know that it ever actually went off the entire month of July. Seriously. The entire month the highs were over 100 and the lows in the mid 80’s. Whew…

  2. This cracks me up! I’m from Pittsburgh, but once a year we visit my Dad in Houston, always in the summer. It is like stepping into a rainforest when you leave the airport! Great post!

    • You should come down right now. 70s in early February. This winter weather is killing me. 🙂 Thanks for the comment. Be careful up there where you really have a winter.

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