I never knew about air-conditioning when I was a little girl. My school didn’t have it. Our car didn’t have it. My house didn’t have it. We had a window fan pointing out in one upstairs window, supposedly pulling the hot air out. That was our air-conditioning. A lot of good that did in a big old farmhouse. The only thing that cooled at all was the shade. My house had lots of trees around it.
When it was super hot, I just laid down on the carpet in the living room and watched the breeze blow through Mom’s lace curtains. The leaves on all the trees outside and the gauzy shadow of the curtains made patterns of sunshine on the walls and the carpet. I just laid there and let my imagination wander around wherever it wanted to go.
“You need a bra,” Deanna said.
“I don’t like them.”
“Well, your nipples are sticking out through your shirt.” Deanna rolled her eyes at me and clicked her tongue in the back of her throat the same way Mom did when she got disgusted about something.
No way was I gonna give Deanna the satisfaction of being right. Summertime was no time to get used to some tight elastic band around my middle, cutting off my breath, making me itch, and showing through my t-shirt, so everybody and their brother knew about my underwear.
“Mom never said I had to.”
“What’d’ya think she bought it for?”
For Pete’s sake. Who thought up these rules, anyways?
Of course, eventually, I caved to big-sister pressure. Deanna did know everything there was to know about fashion. She always, always looked like she stepped out of Seventeen Magazine. Plus, Deanna was popular.
Shorty-pajamas, spread-eagle under a sheet, the drone of that one window- fan, was my only relief from the night-time heat. I would have slept without the sheet, but Mom said if I didn’t clean my room, rats would come and live there, and bite my toes while I slept.
Sometimes, half-awake, I thought a tornado was ready to hit, on account of Grandpa saying tornadoes sounded like a train coming and in a half-asleep-half-awake state, that fan sounded a lot like a train. It was that loud.
“Get on your own side of the bed,” Deanna said. “Your hair’s in my face.”
Man-o-man, sometimes I couldn’t even sleep right.
Heat-lightning flickered across the sky. The willow whipped its witch-hair branches wild in the night.
“The beans are grabbing the nitrogen from the lightning and putting it in the ground,” I said.
“Mmmm..” If Deanna was awake, she pretended not to to be.
When I got to be sixteen and had a part-time job as a waitress, I drove a Dodge Dart back and forth to work. No air conditioning. I opened windows and the air vents wide and let the outside air blow through my hair and balloon my white uniform dress out under the steering wheel. Ahh… that was my only relief from the stifling heat.
Yes. This summer is just like those summers: Deanna is still a beauty role-model; Legumes are still fixing nitrogen from lightning; and I still love the way trees dapple patterns across my yard and through the windows.
Okay a few minor details are different. A bra seems like a wise decision these days. I have air-conditioning in my car and in my home. And, best of all, the drone of the window fan is replaced by the snoring of a contented husband.
- Kind or Cut-Thoat: Monopoly on a Hot Summer’s Day (oncealittlegirl.com)
- Here Comes Summer: How to Keep Your Cool No Matter How Hot it Gets Reader Intelligence Report (apartmenttherapy.com)
- Helpful Tips for Surviving Summer without Air Conditioning (rentersinsurance.com)
- Dog Days of August (oncealittlegirl.com)
- Too Hot to Relax in the Shade (theblacktortoise.com)