The Scent of Heat


The past couple of days have been extremely HOT, especially for April. This pushes me indoors, doing everything humanely possibly to escape the heat. Air-conditioned home, to air-conditioned car, to air-conditioned office and back again. My only forays with the heat have literally been walking to and from my car to each location. It’s only been a couple of days, and already I am dreading that stretch of So Cal summer that we’ve been having for the past few years — that lasts well into six months.

Today  I had to run an errand at lunch, and as I walked the short distance from the store to my car, I smelled something. Something familiar, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I stood there for a moment and sort of inhaled and then realized, it was heat. I know it sounds weird to smell heat, but there is a specific odor that is always HEAT scent to me. It’s actually not a bad smell. It’s a childhood smell. It’s a comfort smell to be truthful. In the midst of the rising temperatures this smell is … good.

As a kid I spent a lot of time in Simi Valley with family. Either Simi is always hot, or I was only there when it was. I never ever recall a  cool day there, which tells you how embedded my heat memories are with that place after 40 years. On a scorching day, water on the streets and driveways gave off a pungent humid scent. You could almost feel steam as the water from sprinklers trickled into gutters.  It was a scent that could only be described as heat, mixed with grass clippings, and hot wet tar. This was before driveways were all smoothly concreted, and roller skates with metal wheels had you jaggedly jarring your way down the bumpy gravel until you felt the smooth sidewalk. This was when a spill on your bike in the street meant picking asphalt and pebbles out of your knee for a week. There was just a certain smell that always meant the ice cream man, running thru the sprinklers, A&W Drive-thru’s and waking up with sweaty hair stuck to your scalp. I think it’s a mixture of suburbs and heat, because when I wasn’t visiting Simi, I was living in Hollywood and it never had that smell. Hollywood heat was completely different than Simi high temperatures.


There was no tarred driveways, or wet asphalt, or newly mowed grass to mimic the scent I was smelling today. Just a large Target, and a bunch of cars, and a smooth parking lot. I think it was just my brain creating those aromas from some memory pocket that I had created as a child.

I could handle the heat as a kid. It’s what I knew. Lately there is something about the high temps that I can’t handle. It makes me a tad edgy. A little squirrelly. It’s not just the scorch that leaves everyone in a puddle sprawled out like a dried out starfish. It’s me just wanting to peel everything off and not move. Clothes, hair, — even my skin.

Most of the time I have a fan on me – at work on my desk. Then there is A/C in my car, and by the time I make it home, I have both running in the house. I have probably created an atmospheric monster with the ability to constantly control the temperatures of my environment. When I cannot – when I am in a room with normal people I am usually fanning myself in some shape or form, or silently melting. In the South, I think they would say I look like I am getting a case of the vapors. Some people assume it’s menopause. (it’s not, and I absolutely dread that day.) I’ve learned people have a lot more sympathy for menopausal women than they do for freaks who just can’t stand the temperature above 71 degrees. Unlike a few years back when I found it insulting for someone to assume I was already going thru the change, now I actually fake it. More like I go along with their assumptions. You want to scrutinize me for being hot, but not for getting a hot flash? Ok, then call it a hot flash.

As well, the heat leaves me with almost a perpetual flush coloring. Being tan nearly all year long, people see the pink hue in my cheeks and assume I’ve had too much sun. I’ve learned to grin and go along with random strangers who suggest a little less time in the sun. “Oh! Lookatcha there, a little too much sun I see!” ( I don’t know why that sentence sounded so Fargo-ish in my head, but that’s how I typed it out. Dontcha know.) Anyway, instead of telling them that I am just a little overheated — which leads to alarming looks, like I may have a stroke and keel over at any moment, I just agree.

It’s all about the easier roads in life now.

Fortunately with my dating life absolutely in the shadows now, I don’t have to worry about those who hate a fan on them when they sleep. That’s a mandatory clause. I will never date — sleep with a man — who can’t handle the fan at the very least blowing on me. Let my scorching hot skin keep you warm when that breeze blows your way. Better yet – let’s not. That just makes me hot too.

The last frontier has been travel. I try and dress in very light layers for planes, because I can throw myself into an anxiety attack feeling like I can’t breathe in the heat of a plane. Sharing a hotel room with a coldie (a person who chills easily)? I’d just as soon sleep with a shotgun in my lap next to the thermostat, than allow you to turn it up to anything beyond 70. And everyone knows 70 hotel degrees is really like 75 real home degrees. My favorite travel partners are those who share my love for the cold. The worst case there is deciding who gets to sleep closest to the A/C. To the rest I throw my blanket their direction and tell them to “Buckle it up Buttercup, it’s gonna be a chilly one!

The temps are supposed to fall back to the 70’s by Saturday thankfully. I hope to be back to normal by then.

roller skates


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