We’re Havin’ a Heat Wave

John McManamy Health Guide
  • Forget Dante. Let me describe Hell to you. Hell is central New Jersey, where the temperature has been above 90 degrees for as long as I can remember. This is accumulated heat, heat with compound interest, wet sticky gooey heat, perspiration-inducing, underpants-clinging, oxygen-depriving, countdown to Armageddon, abandon all hope, melting bones, boiling neurons, exploding cytoplasm, recoiling mortal coil, bubble and boil, toil and trouble, smubble, fuffle – words fail me – bowl of chili detonating in the microwave heat..

    A simple short walk to and from the car amounts to my personal trail of tears.
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    My own personal inner circle of Hell is a second-floor apartment where I am currently a prisoner. The unit was built during the sixties before builders appreciated such fine points of thermodynamics as hot air rising and cold air descending. You walk up an interior staircase to reach the living area. This is literally a reverse descent into Hell. With each ascending step, the temperature rises a few thousand degrees until it approximates the surface of the sun, only not nearly as comfortable.

    You’ll love the next part. The cool air from the overworked window unit in the living room literally pours down the stairway like the ocean in The Poseidon Adventure, nicely cooling down the entranceway and leaving the rest of the place totally unaffected. Our cat Holly has figured this out, and now camps down by the door, the coldest place in the house.

    No, wait. I take that back. I am sitting in it. My work area is situated directly in front of the other window unit in the place, which is in the bedroom. Since I am often sharing the bedroom with my wife, Sophy, and since Sophy is even more sensitive to heat than I am, this means I have to endure an Arctic cold front out of consideration to her.

    You want to know what really pushes my buttons? Here I am shivering away in my indescribably frozen micro-climate of my personal inner circle of Hell and in walks Sophy, saying – drum roll - “Do you feel hot in here?”

    Yes, we all know what married couples fighting looks like. But have you ever seen a bipolar married couple going at each other’s throats? Sophy keeps threatening to ride out the heat wave by spending money we don’t have on a hotel. I retaliate by suggesting she use the money to buy a one-way ticket to Alaska. She says I’m being insensitive, I accuse her of “temperature abuse.” It keeps escalating. We’re both living in Hell, after all, and one of us has to be Satan.

    It gets worse. Because I am literally confined to the house, I haven’t been getting out for my walks, so my exercise is shot to hell. The heat also reduces my motivation to prepare my own food, which means eating fatty restaurant slop. As far as sleep is concerned, there is the double-whammy of my disrupted sleep and Sophy’s, whose disrupted sleep disrupts my disrupted sleep, ad infinitum.

    “Bipolars in Hell” – that’s the name of the fright movie screenplay I’ll be pitching to Hollywood. Glenn Close (think “Fatal Attraction”) can play my wife. Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger in “Nightmare on Elm Street”) can play me. We’ll get the best computer animators and set designers to create the hell on earth special effects. This could be next year’s summer movie blockbuster.

  • Steven Spielberg is calling …
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    Learn more about treatment for bipolar disorder.
Published On: July 31, 2006