The Goliath to my David; Lord Voldemort to my Harry Potter; Big Bad Wolf to my Goldilocks.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my daily Vitamin D fix as much as the next guy. But when it reduces my constitution to a feeble, gibbering mass of sweaty unproductiveness with the energy of a morbidly obese sloth, I have to take a rain cheque. Like, literally a "rain cheque"... to the weather gods. "Name your price! I'll pay ANYTHING. I'll mortgage my, err... running shoes. Just PLEASE, give us some cooling RAIN!"
Legend had it that Toronto's famous HU-MEAT-ITY would spark many such desperate pleas across the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) for at least a week. And possibly six.
Of course, I cockily brushed aside any "outrageous" claims I might struggle to adapt to TO’s Humongously Hot and Humid spell. Christened 'H3' by scientists. "Hah-HAH! The famous Hogtown heat?! Do me a favour. It'll be a BREEZE! A warm breeze, granted. But a breeze none-the-less!"
Of course, in reality I was completely in denial. And secretly bricking it.
July was game-time, with possibly a little sting-in-the-tail for August. So rumo(u)r, a herd of historians and those esteemed experts of who-knows-where had reliably informed me. Anytime from 0000 on July 1st, the tsunami of Ontarian heat could roll into town, sweeping all before it ~ and leaving the rest of us in hiding; sweating for our lives. But exactly when in July would it be?
I stayed with friends John and Toni for the last 11 days of June ~ after touching back down from Ol' Blighty ~ hiding out in their basement and being somewhat oblivious to the changing tide of temperature.
July's first two weeks swung by in a blitz of stormy unpredictability. Monsoons took centre stage, flooding several parts of Greater Toronto and, in some cases, forcing runners and rats to run or swim for their lives, side-by-side.
It was also hot ~ summer was definitely here ~ but not H3 hot. My nemesis was apparently biding his time. Some even wondered whether the endurance weather may bypass Toronto this year. "Some" obviously meaning 'me' and "wondered" being subtly disguised as "hoped".
And then it happened.
Monday, July 15th clicked into life. And the H3 beast, creeping up on its prey like a burglar tiptoeing through the night after ransacking some poor rich boy’s mansion, pierced the bubble of clouds and breathed fire across a vulnerable, unsuspecting Hogtown.
This was Scorchio on a new über-plane or planetary level. Unlike anything I'd ever experienced before. Accuweather.com claimed the temperature for the Monday-to-Friday period (July 15th-19th) would average somewhere in the mid-80’s. But its RealFeel was 100+ degrees. Holy CRAP.
What had I done? This was freakin' RIDICULOUS! How much to sell my body to get back to BC? "Taxi for one to Pearson!"
But somehow, some way, I knew I had to try and survive these five days for the sake of my macro goal ~ to give Toronto the Full Monty of energy and attention for at least a year (Accuweather.com forecast a juicy dip in temperature when Saturday came). And avoid melting into a pool of molten DNA.
My recollection of events from those five days is something of a blur.
I did run every day (I think). But it had to be done early. And when I say 'early', I mean EARLY. Like 4 or 5am. Before dawn's crack and any cocks had done their doodledoo-ing with the gusto of a global tenor star. Any later than 5 in this heat and you were in danger of engaging in something vaguely resembling running for 10 seconds, then unceremoniously expiring on-the-spot, with smoke and steam shooting from every orifice.
That first day, I do remember heading back outside after my post-run shower (fairly pointless) and breakfast, feeling like I'd just been sucker-punched by Klubber Lang (that’s Mr. T ~ B.A. Baracus from The A Team ~ in Rocky 3). WHOOMP!
Walking for groceries, my pace slowed to an 8-hour mile. If I went at night, when it was about 0.00000012 of a degree cooler, I just had to hope I could make it back in time for breakfast.
In fact, walking anywhere or even trying to do regular lightweight activities, such as scratching your ass or swatting a fly, took a gargantuan amount of energy. It was like walking around in a remake of The Truman Show ~ except this time the set was a giant microwave oven.
The Little Italy abode I now called home was a tiny apartment which retained heat like a greenhouse. Its portable air-conditioner toiled manfully to spray out something vaguely resembling cool air. But Hogtown’s H3 was a rare beast. Flocks of brave souls had melted under its formidably fierce glare and been forced to retreat from whence they came. My A/C was doing its best ~ but unfortunately proving as effective as a chocolate teapot.
Trying to sleep was ugly. I lay atop my loft queen slowly roasting to a crispy duck consistency and sweating like a sumo wrestler trying Bikram yoga for the first time. I now had only three days to go, but wasn't sure I'd last that long.
I needed a major intervention. Something in the Bobby Drake lending me his 2013-reinforced Iceman suit type of range. I needed those ice-tastic superpowers!
And right on the cusp of losing the will and/or ability to live, the intervention came. Striking me like an ice bucket to the head... falling from 800 feet.
The fridge! Of COURSE. I had an ice-making machine residing right below the very spot I was resting my head on a sweat-sodden pillow.
Before you could say: "Bobby Drake, who would win in a bare-knuckle fight between you & Peter Parker ~ no superpowers allowed?", I'd abseiled down my loft bunk ladder and was now standing upright doing an airplane pose in front of an open fridge-freezer door. I knew this probably wasn't very eco-friendly. But at this precise moment in time, I didn't care. I'd found heaven again.
For the rest of those three days, as H3 continued to wreak heat-related havoc across Hogtown, I managed my days with intermittent spells at the blissfully air-conditioned Starbucks, Shopper's Drug Mart ("Yes, I know I'm taking three hours to decide between raw or dry roasted peanuts, but you have to err on the side of contemplation when it comes to life's big decisions.") and College-Shaw branch of the TPL (Toronto Public Library).
Communal A/C never 'tasted' so sweet.
Then, at night, I hung out a fair bit either outside or, on occasion, inside the fridge. Being as I only ever have five items in there at any one time, there was plenty of room. I moved the Fab Five down into the salad crisper and set my sleeping bag down on Shelf 3. Perfect. I slept like a log. Albeit an icy cool one.
And when the weekend finally arrived, and the H3 relented ~ swarming off to terrorize some other poor city with its stifling HUMEATITY ~ I reflected on a mission well accomplished.
It was an ice feeling, as well as a nice one. I enjoyed hanging out in the fridge so much I decided to move in there permanently for the remainder of my stay.
Well, I didn't want to take any chances ~ just in case old H3 decided to pop back round for coffee. Plus, I can't think of many cooler things than trying to literally ~ and metaphorically ~ emulate the founding member of the X-Men.
The Iceman Cameth... and he Stayeth!