We were eating dinner at a friend's house, sipping our wine and attacking a roast chicken (you roasted a chicken?! In this heat? * * * * Hey, this is yummy. Pass the salt?), our kids doing what they're supposed to be doing in the stifling heat: dabbling around in a kiddy pool. Then, as we were finishing off every stray roasted potato, braised bok choy leaf, and commenting on the sudden congregation of flies on the chicken carcass, we detected a slight spray of water on our backs. Soon it was the drumming sound of heavier drops on the table. Then a healthy gush overturned a wine glass. No doubt about it: the Great American Water Fight had begun. By the time the deluge was over, the backyard patio appeared to have been situated precisely beneath a cloudburst; the kitchen and dining room may as well have been pool decks on the busiest swimming day of the year. Skirts were soaked. Tank tops, ditto. Not a dry body part in the house.
And no one was complaining because for once, Seattle was actually hot enough to not require residents to don a sweatshirt, fleece jacket, and a windbreaker 'round about 8 pm on a July or August eve. As we mopped up the floors, we knew it was the one night of the year we could not possibly sleep inside our house (we don't have air conditioning; almost no one in Seattle has air conditioning. Why? Because most July and August nights we are trying to figure out how to stay warm, not cool).
But yes, indeed! It was a night for camping out. So we raced home, set up the tent, dug out all the sleeping bags from storage (which no one would actually be sleeping in, but it seemed necessary and fitting), and began playing ghost tag (10 o'clock, 11 o'clock, 12 o'clock midnight: I hope I don't see a ghost tonight!), but pretty soon we were too exhausted to chase or be chased, and pretty soon we were demanding a story and Ruby was kicking Riley in the head, and Riley was punching Ruby in the back, while Alec was crying (why can't you two say you're sorry so we can get back to the story???). The story was The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Jeezus, I had no idea what a shaggy dog tale it is, or how weird Ichabod Crane must seem to an 8-year old). But do I know any ghost stories to bust out during impromptu camp nights? No, I do not, because I never understood the render-me-scared-shitless-around-a-campfire thing. So they had to settle for Ichabod Crane. I had to skip over at least half of each page (details about how the town got its name, what his beloved was wearing, etc.), but I have to hand it to ol' Washington Irving for successfully putting all three of my charges into hard-snore stupors within ten minutes of opening the book.
They're out in the tent, and I'm in here . . . trying to imagine what Louisianians think of us and our EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING, after just one or two days of 90-degree temps and a touch of moisture in the air. I mean, they must think we are about the biggest wimps around. I mean, I know it's a good idea to check on elderly neighbors, but what up with the "Precautionary/Preparedness Actions? Since when is "dangerously hot" 95 degrees? Have any of these forecasters ever been to Tucson? And, excuse me, but are they calling this slight bit of moisture humidity? They must not have ever been to New Jersey in August. The only "dangerous situation" around here is anything coming between us and the Magnolia Community Pool. STAY OUT OF THE SUN AND IN AN AIR-CONDITIONED ROOM. Surely this is some sort of joke.