Kim Nelson: An Open Letter to Hot Humid Weather

Dear Hot Humid Weather,

I have lived in the Chicago area for almost my entire life, coping with your tempestuous changing of the seasons. While most Chicagoans probably dislike winter the most, I am a bit of a contrarian. It’s nothing personal, but I can’t stand hot, humid weather.

My mother was born in the Philippines, where she lived until she was 12 years old and immigrated to Chicago. For most of my childhood, I can remember her turning on the A/C the millisecond spring turned to summer; she had escaped the tropics and was done with that shit for life. I am my mother’s daughter, and I love me some Arctic-level air conditioning. My carbon footprint probably looks like clown shoes.

I detest the sticky, sweaty feeling of 90+ degree days. As the first beads of sweat surface on my skin, I become irritable and short-tempered. No wonder all those constantly perspiring characters in Tennessee Williams plays were so unhappy. If Blanche DuBois had depended on a reliable HVAC system instead of the questionable kindness of strangers, maybe she would have met a happier ending.

There is nothing more miserable than sleeping in a hot apartment, when even the slightest touch of the corner of an Egyptian cotton sheet is too damn hot and you fitfully kick the comforter off the foot of the bed like a heat-deranged David Lee Roth. Overheating in my sleep is my X-Man power. If I could find a way to harness this energy output, we could conserve it for the winter and LEED certify our condo.

Really?, you might be saying right now. You’re complaining about me when you’ve lived through 33 Chicago winters? Sure, winter is long and hard but I kind of like how it keeps me tough. What thrill would you get from winning Oregon Trail if you didn’t break a few wagon axles or occasionally lose a family member to dysentery along the way? Winter reminds me to brace myself for what’s coming. Summer, on the other hand, jams us all together in one hot, sticky bus full of tourists, pressing you shoulder to bare shoulder with a sweaty guy in a mesh tank top. Summer makes you have to look at other peoples’ feet.

But don’t get me wrong. I love many things about the summertime. I adore outdoor festivals and BBQ parties and fireworks and days at the zoo and all of that good stuff. Summer makes being drunk during the day socially acceptable, so it automatically has a special place in my heart. Maybe the problem is ME, as I am cursed with being a Sweaty Person. Walking the dog makes me sweat. Feeding the dog makes me sweat. Getting out of the shower and combing my hair makes me sweat. It is a part of me that I have finally come to accept, and have learned to prepare for. My closet is stocked with tank tops and cotton summer dresses. I will enjoy the summer from a nice chair in the shade, and if you don’t see me, I’m probably sprawling my body over the air conditioning vent for a quick sec.

All that being said, I am glad I live somewhere where the seasons change. Just as spring awakens us from our winter hibernation, autumn offers soothing relief for our sunburns and soaked armpits. For the next few months, I’ll rely on summer shandy and popsicles to get me through the brutal days, and relish in the gorgeous, temperate days when a nice light breeze off the lake and a sunny sky make summer absolutely perfect.

A Sweaty Person

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