The Basement FIles


Keeping your cool when the going gets hot

I am not going to complain about the heat. It was a short-lived heat wave, and in the grand scheme of things, compared to other Minnesota summers, it wasn’t too bad. It was sticky, steamy, sultry and at points insufferable, but it’s over now. So, I’m not going to complain about the heat.

I am going to complain about some of the news coverage about the heat. Just like last week with the whole 4-Mel debacle, they (mostly TV news) kind of dropped the ball and only told half the story. They did the whole “here is how not to suffer heat-stroke” thing they do every year when temperatures top 90. You know the one: “drink water, check on the grandparents, don’t make eye-contact with the sun, yadda-yadda-yadda.” That’s great and all, but it doesn’t apply to me, a night owl basement dweller who has little to no human contact. Being the narcissist that I am, if the story doesn’t involve, help or inform me of any relevant new information that helps me and only me, in any way, shape or form, I tend to dismiss it as a waste of time.

So, what about us vitamin-D deficient basement dwellers who haven’t actually seen the sun in months? Aren’t we also suffering from the heat? What can we do? We can check on our grandparents, but the last time I called after midnight, I heard language I’ve never heard before. People really knew how to throw an expletive back in the day.
We can’t go to a public pool because they are all closed and we’d be arrested for trespassing. Not to mention the fact that we’re so ugly we’d probably get charged with indecent exposure if we took off our shirts.

And water? Sometimes you need some taste, sometimes you need some sugar. So, as a public service to you, my eight readers, I spent my two hot summer days testing the best ways for someone to beat the “night sweats.”

First things first, otherwise it wouldn’t be the first thing, and that is finding the best place to ride out the night. Fortunately, basements are cool, and it’s not because they have exposed wiring and convenient access to a washing machine. But finding the right place to sit while you watch all the DVR’d TV you missed during the day, or playing video games all night (I’m currently playing Dynasty Warrior 8 myself. It’s a video game based on the Three Kingdoms era of ancient China. It’s history, and a videogame, all brought together with a power-chord fueled soundtrack. It’s nerdy on so many levels.) So, the seat itself is very important.

It doesn’t matter if it is a chair or couch, what matters is there is somewhere to put your feet up. Nothing to do with the heat, I just like having my feet up. But once you have your spot picked out, you need to make sure you are not going to soak that seat with your sweat. Air conditioning is great, but what is better is a mini-hurricane. I have found the optimal set-up is similar to a 5.1 surround sound system, just replace the speakers with fans. One low and right in front of you (so as to not block the TV, duh) then one to the forward-left, forward-right, rear-left and rear-right. All set on high, all pointed right at you. Oscillation is a waste of energy, why cool down the whole room when it’s only you who is uncomfortable?

If that is not enough, and your “rear end” is still a little hot and uncomfortable, this little trick will help immensely. First, you venture into the bathroom. Scary I know, but you go in and grab a towel (or better yet, a beach towel, but us basement folk really don’t have those) then head straight to the freezer. Ice is hard and uncomfortable, but frozen peas are ice cold, a little hard, but as you warm up the peas like a chicken warms her eggs, they shift a little bit and then bam, instant cooling butt massage. And as everyone knows, a cool butt is a happy butt.

As for something to drink, water is still awesome. But for those few times you want something with flavor, I suggest an “ade.” Lemonade is a popular choice. Orangeade, not so much. But it’s still really good, although better suited for a picnic than heat wave. For pure refreshment with a nice tart finish, I suggest a good old glass of limeade. It’s not as sweet as lemonade, and you won’t drink gallons of it like orangeade.

Last, but not least, although it is hot, I suggest wearing pants. Not only will your legs not stick to one another (or your leather furniture) but it’s a common courtesy to the other folks who reside in your house during the waking hours.

Besides, you’ll need them if you have to run for your life if you accidently put the peas back in the freezer instead of the trash after your finished with them.

Chris Hamble is a freelance writer and humor columnist serving newspapers in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and is a lifelong Stillwater resident.