Tonawanda News

July 19, 2013

ADAMCZYK: 80 degrees at 3 in the morning

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The nature of vacations, whether weekend getaways or expeditions involving aircraft and porters bearing trains of luggage, involves attending things familiar yet thus far unvisited, which is why I was in a Shopper’s Drug Mart in Ontario the other day. The store offers sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) in the low 100s, and that’s an outdoor record for me.

Who needs a transdermal unguent of such protective ferocity? Yeah, we do, the citizens of Ontario and Western New York, places where snow and sleet are perceived as factors in the daily grind. Forget whether global warming will flood Manhattan in our lifetimes, and consider the 90-plus-in-the-shade lifestyle to which we, here, must accommodate ourselves.

We can blame global warming (I always do, and the Republicans), but the tediously hot days we’ve recently endured remind me of Wile E. Coyote and those other Warner Brothers cartoon characters who pull signs, on sticks, from behind their backs at opportune moments: “Monotonous, isn’t it?”

As I was speaking by telephone to a person in Tucson, Ariz., recently, he explained the perpetual heat there is mitigated, survivable actually, by hurrying from one air-conditioned building to another. So now we’re living the way they do in Arizona.

A Toronto radio station advised, the other day, to look in on frying children and elderly, and to be aware shopping malls are maintaining late hours to encourage the overheated to come in and simply bask in the chill. Thus does a commercial property recommend you visit another commercial property to satisfy your needs without actually buying anything.

I literally have some skin in this game. I am large and overweight, and if I lost 100 pounds I’d still be large. That alone could get me shot in Florida, but it means a walk through downtown Kenmore these days involves slow motion and a cool drink in my hand. We put our gloves on when it’s cold; when it’s hot, a bottle of hydration is as crucial as shoes or car keys.

Of course I’m aging (so are you, reader), but I do not remember life in a perpetual furnace like this. Of course, I remember snow on Thanksgiving, too, and a pile of other things that never happen these days.

We’re living through something, and it might take the advantage of experience to notice it. As they say in baseball, you can look it up; Western New York’s really hot weather historically comes at the end of August, and by the end of September it cools down, and the leaves on the trees turn as red and gold and orange as this week’s television weather maps. Advance all that by about a month, now.

This is Buffalo we’re talking about! Not Las Vegas or Qatar, but a by-the-lake city with a reputation for rotten weather that involves neither baking nor broiling.

The streets of Kenmore and Tonawanda seem unusually quiet, at noon and at drive time. Everyone is indoors, evidently, or looking for some place to do some serious splashing. The swimming pool, whether the kids’ oasis in Mang Park or the $20 backyard type available at Target, is suddenly the place to be.

Too hot for you? Attend a movie in an air-conditioned environment. There are seven available this summer on the theme of apocalyptic visions (eight, if one counts the One Direction documentary), and all of them seem to involve hot weather (makes me suspect zombies don’t care for snow).

The advance of civilization underestimates humanity’s simple endurance (it must have hot in Italy when the Renaissance was swinging, but a guy like Galileo, he of the telescope and the Inquisition, hung around Venice a lot, the town with all the smelly but cool waterways), and the way the primal urge to keep on keeping on factors into progress. Those of us not loving this heat should be congratulated for enduring it.

Ed Adamczyk is a Kenmore resident whose column appears Fridays in the Tonawanda News. Contact him at

Ed Adamczyk is a Kenmore resident whose column appears Fridays in the Tonawanda News. Contact him at