It’s hot as Hades. Hotter than h-e-double-hockey-sticks. Hot as the devil, and hotter than his house cat. Hotter than asphalt at Six Flags. Hotter than The Oak Ridge Boys’ hearts on fire for Elvira. Hotter than a fresh biscuit out of the oven. Hotter than the racetrack at Daytona. And finally, in the words of George Jones, “hotter than a $2 pistol.”

Southerners have a colorful way of describing things, don’t we? The way we talk about summer heat is one of those things we seem to have a hundred different terms for. This weather we’re having right now is what I personally like to call “hotter than all get out” or just “flat-out hot.” 

Writing this makes me think of a couple stories. Those of you who read my columns weekly remember the story about the time Mama and I were “big.” That summer our air conditioner broke. 

You see, Mama lives in my great-grandparents’, Dewey and Evie Lee Thomas’, house. It was built around 1932 by my great-great-granddaddy William Austin Beasley and his own two hands. W.A. didn’t have any fancy architect plans; he could build just about anything, my mama told me. 

It’s a beautiful, classic home full of character in the heart of historic Union Springs and it was a treasure to grow up in, but it doesn’t have central air and heat which is a real big bummer during Alabama summers. We relied on window units to cool down the house and it’s just not the same as central air; it’s still hot in the house even with the air on full blast.

From what you’ve read about my mama, you can assume she had no problem fixing the air conditioner issue. She didn’t. However, we had a couple weeks without air and it was hotter than all the aforementioned phrases put together. 

I’ll save y’all the revolting details but to sum it up, we slept without clothes on and threw cold washrags (that’s a washcloth for you non-Southern readers) at each other all night long. It was the only thing we could do to get some relief.

It may be funny now but it wasn’t then. It’s still hard for me to crack a smile; an Alabama summer without air sho’ ain’t nothing to laugh about.

The other story that sticks out is going to Six Flags in the middle of June with Mama, my brother Cory, sister-in-law Kristi and three nieces, Zoey, Katy and Hailey. 

Santana Wood six flags

From left, back row, Traci Youngblood Davis, Bugs Bunny, Hailey Madison Wood, Kristi Lavonne Wood, Cory Wood; front row, Santana Wood, Zoey Marie Wood and Katy Jade Wood 'sweating like the dickens' at Six Flags in June 2016.

It’s harder than anything to get something to drink at Six Flags. You’ve gotta stand in line for hours just to get a bottle of water for $5.75 a pop then you wolf that down in two minutes and have to stand in line again. There’s no water fountain in sight.

And water is essential for a task as tall as Six Flags. Walking around takes enough energy from a person but to do it in the heat with young’uns hanging on your leg talking about being tired of walking, whew, it’s rough.

This was before I knew I had POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) which not only means an intolerance to standing and walking plus major heat intolerance, but it also requires heavy hydration as part of the treatment. I’m supposed to drink at least an ounce of water for every degree it is outside. I didn’t get enough water and it was hotter than… well, you get it by now. 

My face was blue and my body was cold but I was overwhelmingly hot. I was minutes from passing out when I’d sat down to drink some of that fancy, expensive Six Flags water. Next thing I knew, a magical, high-energy, cheerful employee dressed as Daisy Duck approached us and, granted it’s all a blur as I was not cognitively all there, said something along the lines of, “Would you guys like to participate in a magic show we’re doing in 15 minutes? It’s inside in the air conditioning.” 

Sold. I was all in. She might as well have said “bibbidi-bobbidi-boo.”

When we entered the building, air conditioning had never felt so good. Mama and Zoey were on stage taking part in the magic show while the rest of us cooled down in the audience.

I do a lot better in the heat now because I know how to handle it. I know I have to be extremely hydrated, replenish my electrolytes, sit down frequently and eat salty snacks. 

While I may be able to handle being in the heat for a little while now without dropping to the floor, it’s far from being my favorite thing to do. I like spring weather (what little bit Alabama gets of it) much better. 

Y’all take care in this heat, which ain’t no joke, is hotter than a poblano pepper in July, will make your ice cream cone melt before you get to take the first lick and most of all, makes you real thankful for air conditioning.

Santana Wood is the assistant managing editor of The Outlook.