It’s Not the Heat

Have I mentioned that I rather dislike the weather here in the summertime? It reminds me of the popular television program Iron Chef, in which the antagonists are given some key ingredient – cuttlefish mantle, say, or babirussa tongue – and ring its changes by serving it up as hors d’oeuvres, soups, salads, entrees, desserts, and even beverages. Well, here in New York, the theme is humidity – enervating, spirit-breaking humidity – and the merciless Gotham microclimate dishes it out in every way imaginable.

Earlier this month we were given, as a playful amuse-bouche, an intriguing salmagundi that combined temperatures in the upper 80’s with a curiously cloying haze; a bit later, with the sun climbing toward its maximum elevation as the solstice appoached, we had an impressive demonstration of how effectively even moderate temperatures, working synergistically with ultraviolet radiation and grimy vapor, can make men suffer. And soon enough, as we pass through the indescribable torment, the gaping Hell-mouth, that is New York City in July, we will savor the main course – where the temperature hovers near the melting point of lead, and the skin is bubbled from our flesh by superheated toxic steam. But for now, we are enjoying an imaginative primi piatti in which the mercury is in fact rather low – only 71° as I write – but where, thanks to a stalled front that will be with us for the next few days, the dew point is an obscene 68°, the air is as fetid and motionless as a corpse’s breath, and the sky is a leaden canopy of brooding and swollen clouds, colliding periodically to to disgorge cataracts of warm, greasy rain. The effect is virtuosically unpleasant – further proof, as if any were needed, that we have the best of everything here in the Big Apple.

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