The Misery Of Washington In July


So this is where the privilege of escaping to Cape Cod every summer begins to dissolve into guilt, as other poor buggers resort to the Pepco Diet. I wrote my Sunday column on Washington's heat. For this Englishman, that first summer in our nation's capital is one I won't forget:

To put it bluntly, it's less like a city than a kiln.

This is the kind of heat even mad dogs and English bloggers don't go out in. You simply cannot function without emergency supplies. A simple stroll out to walk the dogs will have them yanking you back home after their first sizzling pee evaporates from the pavement. After walking one city block you feel a small river of ick running down your spine; your bald pate (forgive me if I project) breaks out in a bubble-wrap of sweaty beads; underwear clings where it shouldn't; Dante would have a hard time describing your armpits. 

I remember my first summer in the capital, when I thought to myself on the first day of 35C: well, this is a joke, right?

But no one around me seemed to be noticing. They were even wearing suits to work. I was living in a shared house that summer in Georgetown.

My tiny room had an ancient air-conditioner with two modes of operation. Either it was chugging out a few wafts of lukewarm air while sounding like a 747 landing on the roof; or it was blissfully, momentarily quiet and you lived in the equivalent of a microwave. Whole nights were spent drifting to sleep only to be woken up after a bit by the deafening noise; then I'd switch it off and grab about 20 minutes of snooze before the heat woke me up again. This cycle of nocturnal asphyxiation continued for three solid months. By the end of it I wanted to put my entire mouth around the strongest air-conditioner I could find and swallow it whole.

I got A/C for our cottage in Ptown this year. I figure not having a car gives me some lee-way to destroy the environment by other means. But the guilt endures.

(Photo: Lequita Bryant 25, (R) watches as her brother Brandon James, 21 lifts her son Jeremiah Bryant, 10 into the sprinklers at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC on Saturday, July 7, 2012. By Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)