I lived in Shaquille’s Jock Strap and Survived to Tell

If weather were celebrity body parts, last week Auckland, New Zealand was Shaquille O’Neal’s armpit.

That’s not true. I tweeted that to be funny. But it feels that way because I am now a weather wiener. Typical Aucklander. All whiny when the temperature is above 90 or below 40, or humidity tops, oh, I dunno, 70%?

It all has to do with age.

Because billions of years ago, I recall playing in one of Nebraska Street’s epic, all-day football/baseball/Calvinball/slam dunking/skateboarding/bike-riding extravaganzas. When I got home some time after dark, my older sisters shouted in unison, “Mother, make him shower! He stinks!” and the TV weatherman said it had been 108 degrees that day – a record. But what’s a little heat when you’re 8 years old in Norman, Oklahoma?

Beer was necessary to tolerate summer heat in Waco, Texas, a.k.a Jerusalem on the Brazos. Especially when it was the time of year that the brewery downtown filled the air with the thick, oppressive, awful smell of hops, or maybe it was asbestos. Ack. In either case, I recall an editor advising: a) it happened every year, b) the company was a BIG advertiser so… c) I should shut up and go cover murder and mayhem. Anyway, the heat and hops and Brazos River were not too bad at 24.

But Singapore? Where old Asian ladies were armed with umbrellas, not because of the rain but because of the scorching sun? A sun that crushed you into the pavement like the giant Monty Python foot from the sky. Splat. Where the temperature is at least 9,000 degrees. And the humidity? In the rainy season? Just before it rains? Is about a billion percent, and you can actually see globs of moisture floating in the air like beach balls? But still, at age 28, you are still a physical specimen. Coaching little American footballers. Refereeing games. Still running like the wind. For six hours on Saturdays. And with Tiger beer, a miracle drug, you can survive. Even if your Chinese future-wife tries to politely explain that your smell? Would knock a buzzard off the shit wagon.

No, nothing could be worse than Singapore’s humidity. Except, maybe, Washington, D.C. in August. Ever wondered why government shuts down in August? It’s because the Nation’s Capitol becomes Shaquille’s armpit. Actually his butt. Only slightly smaller. I remember buying a washable $89 khaki suit because I simply could NOT wear a real suit unless I wanted to ring out the sweat when I got home. After I had IV’d a couple of bottles of sucrose, glucose and Budweiser to rehydrate, while standing in front of the window air conditioner. Dying. But still, it was survivable, only just, at 32.

As was Houston, at 35. Barely. What with heat so brutal you couldn’t touch the steering wheel without a towel or until the car’s aircon had been on full blast for a week to 10 days. And frickin killer humidity at about 900 percent, with the smell of refined oil and Texas dirt smothering you like a tarp. Plus also? For added pleasure at dusk? An invasion of mosquitoes that were big enough to screw a chicken standing flat-footed.

Now, 20 years later, it’s barely possible to even survive the measly two weeks a year when Auckland goes Shaquille. When temps are at least 90? Ack. Humidity is 70%. Ick. And hydrating with adult beverages is no longer possible lest you make 900 trips to the toilet at night, thanks to Mr. Prostate.

So, I admit it. I am now a weather wiener. Though not as bad as most Aucklanders. Because I have lived in Shaquille’s soggy jockstrap. And lived to tell about it.


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2 Responses to “I lived in Shaquille’s Jock Strap and Survived to Tell”

  1. malm says:

    Please. One summer in Sportsman’s Paradise and you’ll long for your little 2 week inconvenience. Think Singapore with chemical plants. Six straight months of this crap. You start hoping for hurricanes by about August. Any relief however drastic.

    • hams says:

      Been there. Done that. Louisiana is one of the few places where you can go out on your porch in the morning, yawn, and drown. But I even survived THAT decades ago. Now? No flippin way. Weather wiener indeed. But maybe the heat is what is keeping you down to a svelte 250. So there’s that…

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