It's hot. People are grumpy from the heat - people who are not sitting by the water somewhere, that is. People are swollen from the heat and sweaty and sticky and both hungry and not at all hungry and wanting human contact but not wanting anything to touch them or upset them or point out all the dead and dying trees and grass and plants in the yard. I am especially grateful for air-conditioning when it's hot like this, although grumpiness sets in again when the bill arrives. It happens every year, and for many of us it seems to be becoming more intolerable every year as well.

People used to take vacation and go to the seaside for the month of Hot. (It generally used to be August or maybe July in some places.) Now we just keep doing what we usually do, and complain about it, and feel hot and fatigued. I think it would be a great idea to bring back the idea of everyone going on a seaside holiday right now.

When I first moved to Atlanta in May 1983, I did not have air-conditioning in either my car or my very urban apartment. I worked in a nice air-conditioned office, but anybody can tell you that it is still really, really hot at 5 p.m. especially downtown. As it turned out, one of the art theatres we used to have around here (they are, sadly, all gone now) had a summer double feature series - two classic movies each night, no repeats, so one could go to the movies every single night and see something different. Often the movies were related - two Cary Grant features or a week of musicals. Some famous, some obscure, to me at least (Butterfield 8, Reflections in a Golden Eye). So for about $3, I could spend four hours in a dark, cool movie house, watching movies until the temperature was bearable (with a fan in the window importing the night air directly onto my bed) at home. I saw (and in some cases re-saw) many great movies and some mediocre ones, but it was worth every penny. Yes, I might could have bought an air conditioning window unit for the money I spent on movies and popcorn, but I think I came out much better doing what I did.

The past of course often looks more lovely from afar. My memories probably belong in the "when I was your age, I walked three miles in the snow to school uphill both ways" category. But still, in 1983 I was not of an age or temperament to know that I was living in a blessed moment when I was in fact doing something that I would look back upon and pronounce good or even very good. Many of us now know this about ourselves: we didn't know that we had it so good back then when we had what we perceived to be so little.