by Larry Brody
T.S. Eliot famously wrote that “April is the cruelest month,” but out Paradise way the honors for Most Sadistic Time of Year go to September.
Like most people who grew up in the Northern Hemisphere, I associate the month of September with Fall, expecting it to be a time of falling temperatures, with chilly nights and crisp, sparkling days.
Here in the Ozarks, September is narcissistic Lucy to my naïve Charlie Brown. Only instead of yanking away the football, September sends temperatures soaring up into the 100s, with humidity to match. Want to get outside work done in September? No problem…as long as you get out there at sunup and collapse back inside by 10 a.m.
All in all, September in Paradise is a profound illustration of the most fiery Hell any angry preacher has tried to describe. Drops of sweat swipe down from your scalp to burn your eyes like the most powerful brimstone. And there’s no escape.
No, not repentance (I’ve tried that and failed, again and again), but—
All praise the Benign-and-Mighty Universe for good ole A.C.!
And its equally Benign-and-Mighty Prophets:
The Doobie Brothers Heating and Air.
Sometimes I think that these fine boys, operating out of a little hole in the wall not too far from the Town Square, are all that stand between civilization and barbarism. Without the Doobsters, this space would be blank today instead of filled with these very words.
Because instead of sitting at the computer and writing I’d be lying in the E.R. of the closest hospital, waiting, waiting, waiting (you can tell I’ve had some Emergency Room experience) for treatment for heatstroke.
The trouble began when Gwen the Beautiful and I returned from a month-long sojourn to the Northwest, where we hung with Youngest Daughter Amber and her significant other, The Mighty Jeremiah.
They live in Seattle, where almost no one has air conditioning because no one needs it. Summer temperatures average 20 degrees cooler than those here at home in early Fall.
Bill Morningstar had done a fine job of watching over Cloud Creek Ranch while we were gone, and he’d done as we’d asked and kept the A.C. off. So the first thing Gwen did when we got inside the hot, stuffy house was go to our new, computerized thermostat and turn it on.
We waited for the humming of the compressor and the breeze of cold air from the registers in the walls and floors.
And waited some more.
“Oh no….” Gwen’s voice was a wail. “I can hardly breathe in here. What’re we going to do?”
“Well, we could go into the Annex and see if the window units work, which they probably don’t because they’re really old,” I said. “Or we can call in certain angels of mercy—
“The Doobies!” Gwen said and raced for the phone.
It was Friday evening, and she got the machine. Left a quick description of our plight.
Clicked off the phone….
And an hour later, Mighty King Doobie himself was at our door.
Now, Mighty King Doobie is no ordinary mortal. No, sir. He’s a Marine vet who’s fought in Iraq and is easily recognizable here in Paradise because he’s got arms bigger than Arnold Schwarzenegger. That’s right, bigger than the whole governor, not just Arnold’s arms.
Mighty King Doobie stood flexing in our doorway. Put a finger to his lips as though to say, “Hush. Everything’s all right now. I promise.”
With a wink, he vanished and reappeared at the side of the house, where he knelt down. Reached out. Touched a coil.
And vanished again, returning with a big pump. “Mechanism froze up. You’re two pounds of hydrofluorocarbons down. But not for long.”
(Actually, he said “Freon,” but of course he was speaking generically because everyone knows Mighty King Doobie never would use anything that could harm our planet.)
Eight minutes later, MKD was gone, and cold, healing air was blowing throughout the main house. Gwen and I stood in the great room and hugged each other and smiled.
“Hooray for Mighty King Doobie!” I yelled.
“My hero!” Gwen cried.
“What?!” I said to her.
“Only for the moment. You’re my more permanent hero. I promise,” she said with a wink of her own.
All hail MKD and the Doobie Brothers.
Vanquishers of Sweat.
Champions of Cold.
Slayers of September!
Oh, and the inventors of Freon and its greener substitutes have my eternal gratitude as well.