Sunday’s With George Thatcher – Summertime Blues, You Can Feel The Heat Coming Down!

It’s “That” Time of Year

As I sit here beneath the cooling A/C blower, with every door and window in the place shut tight, I’m feeling trapped again. I get a similar feeling in mid-winter, when the streets are so slick with ice that one doesn’t dare venture out to take life in hands by daring to mix with the average lead-footed and otherwise clueless WestTexas driver. They are really good at driving fifteen or so mph above the city speed limits, but they don’t know how to stop on icy roads, much to the delight of every auto body shop in town.

But this is mid-summer, and I still have zero incentive to sally forth onto the baking pavement. I look out at the 3 p.m. highway leading north, and begin to fantasize about buying a one-way ticket to Fairbanks. The roads hare are so hot that they burn your Sketchers-clad feet, and you can actually see the heat waves shimmering as they rise from the surface. I’d swear that I can really visualize an oasis somewhere out there, with palm trees waving gently and a pristine, blue, cooling lake awaiting my arrival, so that it can embrace my scorching body in its gentle, soothing wavelets. On the street below, the hated grackles are hopping around, one claw st a time on the pavement so as not to burn they little feets.

By mid-August I have almost forgotten how frigid and unforgiving Minneapolis can be in just a month or two from now. My mind has tuned out the memory of frozen feet, snow blowers, windshield scrapers, and of course, those $700 monthly heating bills. No, all I can think about is casting a lure into the Cannon River, where I know a nine-pound Walleye is likely to snap it up and give you the fight of your life before succumbing to my superior angling skills. And I think of how the wife will welcome her hero home with “oohs” and “aah” and all those lubricious compliments to her conquering hero that will motivate him to repeat today’s conquest at frequent intervals. I begin to salivate at the thought of those golden-fried Walleye filets bubbling deliciously on the stove.

The realities of a West Texas summer interrupt my sweet moment of reverie, as that same loving wife thrusts a shopping list into my unwilling hands, which are still chilly from the cooling river I’ve had to leave so abruptly. As I slip out of the driveway and put the car gently into “drive,” I automatically tap the brakes a time or two, just in case the roads may still be icy. As usual, Slide Road is a raceway, with 65 and 70 mph speeds not uncommon as the Indy- wannabes routinely blow my doors off as they race madly to be first at the next red light. So many unrecognized winners, so little road! My temperature gauge reads 105 now, which may be a degree of two above yesterday, but I know this will be the norm from now until whenever. I recall reading that we’ve already had twenty-one days of temps over 100 this summer, more than triple last year’s total.

Naturally, the parking lot at WallyWorld is crammed full. I can barely see the store from the middle of the Kalahari, where I’ve been forced to park. The safari to the building will certainly have a water tent along the way, but all I can see is a sea – of cars with their roofs and windows semi-ablaze from the oppressive heat. My kingdom for a camel, is my feeble attempt at humor. But what the heck, I’m going to die out here from heatstroke anyway, so I might as well engage in a burst of semi-delusional cackling. So what if the other patrons think you’re loony tunes. We’re all turning into beef jerky out here, and future explorers from outer space will find us a tasty and unique change from their regular diet of space junk.
I’m now too far gone to feel any smugness over having believed the grave scientific warnings about this “global weirding” years ago.

The imperatives of survival have forced us to build desalination plants as big as oil refineries, and in Houston they’ve actually been retrofitting the old refineries, while planning to convert the oil pipelines that criss-cross the country. At first they’ll produce water that tastes like your car’s 10W-30 lube, but you’ll get used to it. Just be careful not to light any cigarettes while you’re sipping the newly- FDA approved beverage.

And a few generations down the road, the Ogallala Aquifer has been reduced to a sludge pit, farmers have long-since bailed out of the state, buffalo have been re-introduced to their old habitats on the plains, and tough wild grasses have begun to appear, those which can tolerate a desert climate and provide sustenance for wildlife. After some years of the region’s barren neglect, archeologists from the hearts of space are beginning to examine the area, intent on studying the now-extinct breed of humans who have disappeared without leaving anything behind but junk cars and empty stadiums. They’re still wondering if those particular monuments are where the people performed their pagan rituals and sacrificed Christians to appease the angry gods. One supposes those deities are righteously pissed because they can’t watch Friday Night Football anymore. Or maybe they still collect the reruns.
But the dust-filled air is beginning to filter slowly down from the sky, and I see a formation of cumulonimbus clouds to the southwest, and it smells like rain for the first time in months. So what miracle can be happening? It’s the miracle of imaging, of course. My mind is taking a better place to me, not the other way around. And “the vision is getting clearer every day,” as Mac Davis used to sing. And I’m going to trade that nasty rear view mirror in for a full-length job that looks past the ugly, ignores the impossible, and clearly sees forward to that brighter day when the water will again flow freely, the clouds will yield abundant moisture, and people will start to obey the speed limits.

Okay, two out of three will do for now.

George Thatcher, July 2022

George is an American Bad Ass. He grew up in Jersey, flew B-52s in Vietnam, taught English, Spanish and other languages to children around the world, makes his own salsa, has been known to enjoy a beer or two and has called Lubbock home for a few years, just to entertain the locals. Welcome to Raiderland, Major. We are going to feature some of his writings going forward. Some new, some old. Some rhyme, some don’t. When it comes to George, there’s no box. So… enjoy our friend and enjoy his writings! – Hyatt