I just heard on the local news that for only the second time in decades Las Vegas had no measurable rainfall for the months of July and August. Add this to the somber fact that we hit a high temperature of 110 degrees or over more than 20 days in a row.
All of this dry heat only compounds the irritation we are all feeling about being in month number six of the coronavirus pandemic and we have every reason to be cranky. I can’t wait for the day I can take those damn facemasks and use them instead of Charmin and flush them down the growler. But of course that would probably clog the plumbing and cause me even more aggravation.
If your neighbor hasn’t already, sometime in the next week or so he will peer at you from under a floppy hat and sweaty brow and say something akin to, “Ya know, I think this is the hottest summer we’ve ever had.”
And that neighbor is convinced he’s right. This pronouncement will come shortly after his sprinkler system has gone on the fritz, and what’s left of his environmentally incorrect front lawn has turned the color of French fries. Or maybe the utterance will occur after he left a six-pack of Mountain Dew in the back of his Hummer, and the blazing reflection off the rear window exploded the plastic bottles and left his faux-leather upholstery smelling like an incontinent cat.
Of course, this won’t be our hottest summer ever, or even set a record for the hottest day. That’s because before we bulldozed the caliche and laid down all this turf to make room for the thriving metropolis we inhabit today, it used to get seriously hot in Las Vegas. Like 10 or 15 degrees hotter than now, with no air-conditioning or even SPF 30 to slather on for protection. I can only imagine that early settlers in our town walked around six shades darker than George Hamilton and with skin the texture of Naugahyde. A kiss on the cheek in downtown Las Vegas circa 1920 must have felt like putting a lip lock on a coconut.
But sure enough, come the middle of October when the days become as warm and comfortable as your favorite old sweater and the evenings cry out for a salty margarita as you sit on the front stoop by the pool, that same neighbor who described us as living in an earthly hell will peek across the hedge and say, “This is why we live in Las Vegas … what heavenly weather!”
Our temperate climate must certainly be one of the top three reasons people move here from their native homes. If it’s not up there with tax benefits and the free spirited attitude that endorses gambling and other pleasurable activities then I haven’t been playing close attention over the last 45 years.
While those three were certainly factors in my decision to stay here after I’d completed what I thought was going to be a one-week golfing vacation, they weren’t the clincher.
Quite simply, I was looking for a place full of captivating stories where I could settle and grind out a decent living as a writer. In the first month alone, I met half a dozen interesting second-chancers who had unusual stories I found compelling. I quickly grasped that if I let them speak freely, and learned the art of asking the right questions at the appropriate time, I could put their stories on paper and peddle them to newspapers and magazines. I learned over the years that some of those tales were rich enough to put between hard covers.
While recent months haven’t offered many uplifting stories, I know there are dozens being bottled up for future use. That’s when I’ll write a compendium of all the great comebacks from the virus that put a black mark on the year 2020.