Gimme swelter: the art of complaining about the heat. We just do it better.
Remember that sun-soaked selfie you cheekily posted back in February when Bostonians were nostril-deep in snow? Well, for Austinites, now is the winter of our smug content, made hideous summer by the sun of Texas. The broiler’s on, and we’re the bacon.
We all know what that means: It’s time to crank up the summertime heat brag-and-bitch machine. We’re smart enough not to host major festivals this time of the year, so the heat itself becomes our story. TV reporters gleefully fry eggs on the sidewalk and bake cookies on cars. Newspapers run photos of dogs chilling in Lady Bird Lake, and the rest of us engage in a torrid tweet-athon of heat hubris—because everyone knows that Texas heat grouse is best served with a pinch of gloat. And our roast-boasting season is a long one, often climbing into the 90s in late April, peaking with weeks of 100-plus (110-plus isn’t unusual) and finally sinking below 90 after Halloween.
Our heat comes with its own hashtag, #atxheat. Many of these heat tweets are accompanied by digital displays of triple-digit temperatures for added drama. Some of my favorites of sweltering days gone by: “My taco got cold, so I put it on the truck’s roof” (@frankpena), and, “It’s so hot outside I bet Jehovah’s Witnesses are going to start telemarketing” (@holdenhelmink). Meanwhile, Facebook boasts selfies of car-driving hands encased in oven mitts, and Instagram overflows with photos of melted car air fresheners, heat-warped credit cards, and all manner of animals luxuriating in hot tubs.
We’re Texans. We sweat with swagger. And those bragging rights don’t just revolve around the sun: They apply to our obsession with glacial air-conditioning. The parking lot might be a griddle appropriate for short shorts, but step inside Whole Foods, and you need a puffy coat. Probably the biggest heat brags, in fact, come from people whose AC breaks in their home, office, or car. You haven’t truly survived an Austin summer if this hasn’t happened to you.
And that brings us to the vacation brag: We stop complaining to the outside world and try to make our fellow Austinites even more red in the face; we flee to more humane climates and post photos of ourselves sitting around an evening fire on the beach or enjoying a hot mug of coffee outside. “Look at me, I’m wearing jeans in July!” we proclaim from places like Colorado, the mountains of North Carolina, the coast of Maine, and our sister weird city of Portland.
Speaking of Portland, it does understand the bitch-and-brag weather concept, except that in Portland, the issue, of course, is rain. NewsCastic’s “15 Reasons Why Rain is a Good Thing in Portland” includes items we can relate to, such as, “It keeps Portlanders together,” and, “It keeps the tourists out.” Unfortunately, the rain-and-heat pride analogy can carry only so far because nobody writes songs about laughing, running, and singing in the heat, and, alas, there’s no such thing as a heatbow.