Having a hot time in Texas — until I’m extinguished

image Later this summer I will be visiting Texas. More than likely, I’ll be wearing a cowboy hat, wandering in and out of shops, and carrying on with the kind of loopy, carefree attitude one expects from someone suffering a heat stroke. Six of the hottest cities in the U.S. are located in Texas, which is why, on an average day, an estimated 15,000 armadillos attempt suicide on Texas highways — in many cases, by strapping old Dixie Chicks CDs to their backs in order to increase their chances of being run over.

I actually lived in Texas for six years. I am familiar with its August atmosphere. Which is why I have been preparing myself by breathing directly from the end of a hair drier each night for the last six weeks. I can now last a solid 15 minutes on “high heat” which, during an average day, is longer than most Texans spend breathing air that isn’t being piped through some type of cooling system. In fact, the majority of hustle and bustle in downtown Dallas isn’t caused by a steady exchange of commerce interacting to sustain a thriving economic base. No. It’s actually made up of people frantically hurrying from one air conditioned building to another, trying to avoid prolonged exposure to the sidewalks, which could potentially melt the soles of their Justin ropers, and reduce their $800 ostrich skin boots to a pair of decorative shin guards.

So, knowing all this, why am I going to Texas? For the same reason many of us find ourselves doing things we wouldn’t normally do, at least not without liberal amounts of beer or the promise of buried treasure (Or, as is often the case, both): I’m talking, of course, about friends.

Dallas and Waco, two of the six hottest cities in the U.S., are home to long-time friends, all of whom have been asking me to visit since the 90’s. And by that I mean the last time it got below 100 degrees. You see, we coastal Oregonians put on flip-flops and tank tops once the temperature reaches 65 degrees. At 75 degrees, we instinctively move to a shaded area and remain there, in a fetal position, until help arrives. Several years ago it actually reached 85 degrees along the Oregon coast. As expected, many people panicked and dozens were treated — mostly for frostbite — after climbing inside the freezer displays at local supermarkets. To this day, I still can’t reach for a frozen Popsicle without the image of Bill and his frozen…

Well, never mind.

All that matters is that he is now happily married to Annette, who proposed right there in the freezer aisle.

Yesterday, my friend called from Dallas to confirm my arrival date, run through a list of things we could do during my visit and, most importantly, let me know it was 104 degrees — which, after factoring in the heat index, meant he needed to hang up because his pool boiled over. Like most Texans, he met this crisis with the concerned demeanor of someone reading the ingredients on a bag of flour. My theory is that heat is the main reason for the distinctively slow Texas drawl; when it’s that hot, even your mouth is too tired to do anything but look for shade.

That isn’t to say I’m not looking forward to this trip. In the end, no matter hot it is, paying a visit to my friends in Texas is long overdue. The trick, of course, will be making it back before I’m overdone.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

58 thoughts on “Having a hot time in Texas — until I’m extinguished”

  1. 104?


    And it’s only May!!!!

    I grew up in the DFW Metroplex, so I can encourage you by saying that if you plan your trip for December, the high temperatures reach only into the 90s.

    Quick True Story: My son from DFW called me one day several years ago and said, “Dad, it’s Valentines Day and it’s 98 degrees!” He called me two weeks later and it was snowing!

    Don’t Mess With Texas. 😀

    1. Ahhhh, the Metroplex! I haven’t heard that reference in many years! I spent six years in that area (Addison) and many summer nights sleeping with my feet hanging out my apartment window just to keep cool.

      Despite the heat, I really did enjoy my time in Texas.
      No messin’ round 😉

  2. Hey! I’m in Irving (West Dallas). It must not get as hot over this way, at least not yet. There have been a couple fires at my apartment complex though. Now I’m thinking what they told us wasn’t true. Must’ve been spontaneous combustion. Great to hear you’re coming out this way.

    1. Haha! Spontaneous human combustion is always a danger while living in Texas, especially with all of that great chili and Tex-Mex food! Try to stay cool in the months ahead, Jon.

      And don’t get too close to the neighbors in your apartment complex…

              1. Mine was the Siuslaw High School Vikings. Given that “Siuslaw” is the name of a local indian tribe, I’m not sure where the Viking tie-in comes from.

  3. I lived in the Texas Hill Country. A bit cooler there. I wasn’t far from San Antonio (going 100 mph I could make it in 40 minutes).. Love San Antonio.

    1. San Antonio is a beautiful city, and The River Walk is where I had the best margarita in my life 😉 It would be worth it to drive 100 mph for another margarita like that.

  4. When I recently visited Marrakech in April, it was 40 celsius (approx 110 fahrenheit). It was hard to move! A young man explained to us that last summer during Ramadan, temperatures reached 52 Celcius (134 Fahrenheit) OUCH!!!

    1. I’m not very good with geography… is Marrakech somewhere on the planet Mercury?!?

      Being a volunteer firefighter, I’ve been is some hot places but wouldn’t even consider going outside without my protective gear if it was 134 degrees!

  5. It’s somehow very apropos that I’m reading this while in my Anchorage, Alaska, hotel room, getting ready to go see some fjords. (And also enjoying having a legitimate reason to say “fjord.”) Enjoy your trip! Sounds like it will generate plenty of writing fodder at the very least…

  6. Well, Ned, as a Native Austinite here for over 40 years, I can tell you that only last night, my husband and I decided AGAINST sending my sun to camp precisely because it will be easily 110 this summer. Even if we cover him with 75 spf, he will still be baking while canoeing, so screw that. He’ll be indoors instead like the good Lord intended.

    I went on my hour jog yesterday morning at 9am and nearly sprained my thumb, depressing the button of my sunscreen spray, until my arms and chest and legs were lacquered and reflective and fairly bulletproof. The sun is already fierce, the bluebonnets are withering, and the lakes are bracing themselves for zero precipitation. So I can confirm no hyperbole in your sentiment; it will be scorching. But there will be beer and chips and queso and margaritas and camaraderie and country music (sans blue eyes crying in any trace of rain) and folks who smile and welcome you and are happy to talk your ear off. So pull on those boots and heed Lyle Lovett’s words: “That’s right: you’re not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway.”

    1. Having lived in Texas for six years and Atlanta for five, I can attest to the truth behind Southern Hospitality (I know Texas is its own part of The South, but humor me). Also, the best margarita I ever had was in San Antonio, and best blue grass and country swing I’ve ever heard was in Austin along Sixth Street.

      By the way, HUGE Lyle Lovett fan here 😉

      1. If you have a second, tell me something about Oregon. All I know is what I see on Portlandia. What’s the best thing about living there?

        1. Aside from all the natural and diverse beauty here, there is a different mentality among Oregonians that reminds me of what it was like living in Texas — where people are proud of where they live and genuinely love it. They are here by choice and, just like how Texans put up with the heat because of their connection to where they live, Oregonians deal with the rain because they know it’s what brings the green.

          And as for the bigger cities (Portland, Salem, Bend), I have to say Portlandia isn’t far of the mark!

  7. Do you think that the heat long term effects on this Texas draw?? It would certainly explain a lot to the manner George W. Bush Spoke. 🙂 Come down to Sunny (humid) Miami. We don’t reach the triple digits, but you might be able to swim down the street with the way or humidity is.
    P.S. Please post a picture with your Cowboy Hat… oh, and one with a bull too!
    Thank you! 😉

    1. Haha! I think the long-term effects of Texas heat would explain a lot more about George Busch than his drawl 😉 I’ve actually been to Miami, many years ago, and remember how unbelievably warm the ocean was there. I was actually living in Texas at the time, so I brought my cowboy hat.

      Yeah, I blended right in… lol!

      If I end up on a bull at some point, I’m sure you’ll find my picture on the evening news. The report will begin: “An intoxicated Oregonian suffering from heat stroke was wounded at a Texas rodeo today when he sat on a bull he thought was a bar stool in theme restaurant…” 😉

      1. I’m so glad you were able to decipher what I wrote, because I looked at it afterwards and had a serious talking to with my brain and motor skills (they never tend to get along).
        As for Miami, yes, we have incredibly warm water. Which actually makes you wonder if it’s because of the climate or because people are peeing in it… true story. And please, please, please bring your cowboy hat next time you mosey on down these parts, you can get away with it more in Ft. Lauderdale 😉

        As for the bull… I’ll settle for a mechanical one 😀

        1. Oddly, I had no trouble deciphering you comment. I’m not sure what they says about either of us, but who cares 🙂

          And I will keep my cowboy hat on standby should I ever be “Ft. L” bound. I don’t want to stand out or anything…

  8. i have to say that i LOVE LOVE LOVE austin, and as for the rest, i’ve never been much of a fan, as it seems to be its own country of some sort, who does not want to get along with any other people. and please wear your long refrigerated underwear.

  9. Okay…NOW the cowboy hat and cut offs are making perfect sense!
    I spend A LOT of time in Texas and must say that the only phrase I’m more fond of than “Is it hot enough for ya?” is “Is it cold enough for ya?” Typically uttered on the same day when passing through Kansas to get to TX. Hopefully, you are flying. We WILL be expecting refreshed photos of the cowboy get up once you arrive.
    Safe travels my friend!

  10. I used to pass through Texas regularly and always found the people kind and easy going. Actually kind of laid back. Ha! I once rolled a loaded tractor-trailer over on its side on the shoulder of a backroad outside Houston (it had rained and the shoulder gave away when I pulled over). The Texas State troopers happened by while I was standing there inspecting the bottom of of truck – which was now on its side. They wound down the window and enquired what had happened so I told them and let them know the wreckers were on the way. They wished me a good evening. I stopped them and asked if they didn’t have an accident report or some paperwork to do. They looked at me strangely and said: “Son you can park your truck on its wheels, on its side or on its roof – as long as you’re clear of the pavement and don’t stay more than 24 hours, you can park it any way you want.” Quite obliging lads, they were. Ha! From that I would deduce, Ned, that your eccentricities will also be welcome in Texas. Have a great visit!

    1. Even when I left here out of high school all those years ago, I knew this is where I wanted to end up again. There’s just something about Oregon that you can’t find anywhere else. Although I have to say, if I had to live in Texas again, it would be Austin 😉

  11. I grew up in Arizona, everyone says well it’s a dry heat…meaning it’s easier to take because there is no humidity. The truth is after 100 it doesn’t matter if there is humidity or not it’s just stinking hot as hell. Dry heat…pfft .. 110 is brutal anywhere.

    1. I agree. I’ve been in both Texas and Arizona in the summer, and neither is what I’d describe as pleasant. However, Georgia and Tennessee in the summer is like living in a steam bath. Miserable. Or maybe just whiney and hard to please.

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