Commentary: Texans Earn Respect for Enduring Heat
Texans may not do so well when it comes to cold weather; the mere mention of snow sends us running to the closest grocery and home improvement stores for extra food, heaters and ice scrapers. But give us a heat wave, and we can grin and bear it with the best of them.
It turns out that capability has not gone unnoticed. Austin writer and commentator Ruth Pennebaker took a summer trip to Boston and Cape Cod with her husband. The residents there were impressed with the Texans’ ability to withstand what was a scorching heat wave by East Coast standards. Here is Ruth’s commentary on “Weather Freakouts:”
Every several years, when it snows or ices up in Austin or when there’s a rumor it’s going to snow, I get a little embarrassed. You know, the way everybody panics and rushes to the grocery store or liquor store and stocks up on enough provisions to last for a good month. I know everybody’s out there buying and panicking, since I’m out there, too, elbowing my way through the crowds. I’m pretty sure we must look ridiculous to people from cities like Boston or Denver, where it routinely snows more than a few flakes and life doesn’t halt and schools don’t close and you don’t have to beat up another person who’s trying to get that last pre-blizzard bottle of bourbon that has your name clearly written on it.
I was thinking about Texans’ total loss of dignity at the prospect of ice and snow, when my husband and I were in Cape Cod and Boston in July. You see, the East Coast was in the middle of a heat wave then, and — I hate to say it — but people weren’t handling it too well. We saw them on the sidewalks, wearing safari hats and walking shorts with their pale legs and constantly fanning themselves. On a local TV station, the reporters were so enthused about the heat … they were trying to cook a baguette on a car dashboard. I could have told them that was a bad idea.
In the stores, everybody complained about the heat. Then they asked where we were from.
“Texas, ” we said.
For the first time in years — no, decades — this answer earned us some respect.
“Oh!” person after person said, wiping a brow, shrugging a damp shoulder. “Well, then, you really know heat. You must know how to deal with it. You must think we’re overreacting.”
I thought about our drought, our span of triple-digit days. I thought of how we were all complaining nonstop right now, getting totally boring, losing our minds and threatening to move to Siberia. But I just couldn’t admit our mass weather psychosis to a bunch of Yankees. Over and over, I shook my head and smiled.
“Oh,” I said, stoically, bravely, “you get used to it.”