You know it’s hot when you spot a guy in a white tank top, baggie gray shorts, and flip-flops with a pair of fans strung around his neck.
Just a couple of small ones, but still. They’re fans.
Around his neck.
“Love it, love it, love it,” he gushes.
I bumped into tank top dude at the corner of Abram and Center streets on an insanely sunny Saturday afternoon. He says he’s on his way to meet a friend for lunch. Temp is hovering around 99, according to my iPhone weather app.
He chat about the meteorological conditions, as we Texans are prone to do in the heart of summer, but try as I might, I can’t stop staring at those darn fans.
He looks ridiculous.
Cool and comfortable, but ridiculous.
“Tyron Adams,” the tank top dude says, sending a fist bump my way. “Got this on Amazon for, like, 12 dollars. So I never go anywhere without air blowing in my face.”
Adams says he’s in his early 30s and works for a bicycle shop in Fort Worth. We have our ways of beating the heat. This is his.
“Now that’s an interesting idea,” says Johanna Gilford, a 30ish mother of two rambunctious boys, who is strolling by us heading into the public library.
Her way of heat coexistence is going from one air conditioned spot to another.
“We stay at the library for at least two hours, sometimes three, depending on what activities are going on here,” Gilford says. “You don’t want to stay in the house with these two.”
I see. Her sons are 8 and 6. They wrestle and push one another and climb over tables.
Gilford doesn’t flinch.
“At some point, we sit down and read books,” she says, smiling. “I swear.”
Some might bristle at the fact that they are out at all, but kids will go stir crazy – and drive you crazy – stuck in the house.
Emergency Management Coordinator Shawna Lemley of the Arlington Fire Department has a video online urging us to take the dangers of heat seriously. Whatever you do, she says, “avoid direct sunlight” – or stay put at home.
I eventually head over to the Arlington Art Museum next door. It’s now 101, according to my app.
I duck into an open door at the museum only to find that it’s for summer art campers. I run into Shelley Overton, standing at the door.
“At the end of the camp, the kids will have a whole art portfolio,” she says. “Different kinds of paintings, sculptures, things like that.”
I ask about the heat, of course.
“This is a great way to get them out of the house but not deal with this heat,” she says. “We went swimming the other day and nearly burned to death.”
If only the camps were more than a half day for her seven-year-old.
“So the question is always what to do with the rest of the day in this heat?”
As I walk out, I run into Lorenzo, “just Lorenzo,” he says.
Dressed in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt, and a Rangers baseball cap, he sits on a bench outside the door. He has a small shopping cart full of clothes. He’s obviously homeless.
How do you beat this heat? I ask him.
“I don’t,” he says. “I go into the library, and the McDonald’s over there to cool off. Not bad at night. When it’s hot, people feel sorry for you and want to talk to you. That’s cool. Usually, I just want to be left alone.”
I get the hint. It’s now 103.
As I head back to my car and its glorious air conditioning, I think of Lemley telling me to wear light-colored clothing (check), drink water (check), and limit physical activity (that’s why I’m leaving, so check).
Lemley mentioned nothing of carrying a couple of fans around the neck, but that sounds awfully good right now.