Monday, June 05, 2006

Crazy from the Heat, Diamond Dave-Style

I’ve always wondered how people make truly horrible decisions, you know, the kind of inexplicable lapses in judgment that lead otherwise sane people to get into fights, traffic accidents, etcetera. I don’t know if I have the answer now, but I can clearly retrace a bad decision I made yesterday.

My wife and I went to the beach. It was already very hot and the waves were mostly flat, the winds offshore, so there were these little six-inch tubes spitting out right near the water’s edge. It was the kind of morning in Florida when it’s so hot that even the ambient sound seems affected by the heat. You can see that people nearby are talking, but only a weak murmur reaches your ears. The heat leaves you in a kind of isolation.

Anyway, we walked down the beach and I threw the ball with the dog for awhile. She was grateful to get into the water and swam out into the waves to get her ball but she seemed to be moving slowly. Everything was moving slowly, even the little waves.

It was near lunchtime when we left the beach, and on the way back we stopped for coffee. I got an iced coffee but nothing to eat, even though I was hungry. On the way out of the parking lot I offered my coffee to my wife and when I asked for it back, she taunted me and held it at arm’s length. I was so hot and so thirsty that instead of laughing and getting in on the game, I gave her an exasperated sigh. We exchanged some words about my reaction, and then I got angry with myself for having reacted so petulantly. After all, as my wife pointed out, it was only a coffee, right? But I was thirsty, dammit. Why didn’t I just play the game with her, laugh along? Because I was thirsty. I should’ve strangled her for taking my coffee. I shouldn’t be having these thoughts, I shouldn’t be so angry. Choke her out, gulp that coffee, pour the ice down your shirt.

In the middle of all this, I decided to make a turnaround on a busy street. I swung my car into the turnaround lane and then yanked the wheel to join the opposing flow of traffic. I knew there was no way I could make the turn without stopping to reverse, but I kept going anyway. In fact, I accelerated. In some ways I was looking forward to the violent jolt of my wheel going up over the curb as I swung around.

It was a violent jolt, all right. The tire blew out instantly. As a reward for my bad decision, I got to pull over and change the tire in the baking Florida sun while my pregnant wife stood there fanning herself. Good times, although to her credit, my wife did not say “I told you so.”
Analysis: by the time I made that turnaround, I was no longer in my right mind. A combination of low blood sugar, anger, and self-judgment led me to a craving for some kind of violent, jarring experience. It could have been much worse, I guess. I can understand now why people in those northern cities go on killing sprees during heat waves. It feels like the natural thing to do, just take someone out.

Too damned hot and there are no waves. Summertime in Florida sucks. Heat this extreme makes me crazy. Later I got angry when I was mowing the yard because it was too hot. Still later I got angry while pumping up the tires on the bicycles. I’d been slaving and sweating with the hand pump and then my wife insisted on checking the pressure with a little tire gauge. Of course she fumbled and fudged around with the nozzle and let out at least ten pounds of pressure just getting the reading. When I said there was no way the tires needed more air, she got her pregnant self down there and started trying to do it.

All of this in a stifling hot garage. I finally got down and finished my wife’s bike tires but only after I had beaten myself up for endangering the life of the baby. I’m telling you, I’m envisioning multiple Joan Crawford-like moments of rage with this kid.

“No more tire gauges!” Whack. Whack. “Your (#(#ing tires are pumped up, do you hear me? Pumped up!”
“Yes, daddy dearest,” the kid whimpers.

Yet another permanent psychological scar inflicted by the heat-intolerant old man. Maybe I should move back to Michigan. Then again, I don’t think I’m quite crazy enough for that. Yet.


Post a Comment

<< Home