Guest Commentary

No pain, no gain: Here are 10 things to love about Tucson summers

Those warm March days prematurely reminded me that Tucson summers are a bitch. When I think back on those early days of my arrival nearly 18 years ago--of the fretful hand-wringing, of pregnancies endured submerged in a pool like an overstressed hippo, of all that swearing up and down to everyone I knew that I was moving to the North Pole as soon as possible--I've tried to cultivate a more positive attitude. Still, despite my best efforts, I come up short sometimes. So this year, I'm being both proactive and positive, making a list of the good things, changing my focus.

1) When summer arrives, the snowbirds go home, thus lowering the probability of getting sideswiped in the bike lane and crushed beneath the wheels of a motor home bigger than the state of Rhode Island.

2) Rattlesnakes. Contrary to popular belief, these are really quite beautiful and fascinating animals, and they don't come out when it's cold. An old Navajo man told me that seeing one is good luck, so I asked him what getting bitten by one is. He revealed a scar on his leg that looked as if someone had shot him, and said, "very painful."

3) It's cool inside the cineplex! And think of all the great movies you can see. Ben Stiller having yet another poo or penis problem; Mel Gibson crucifying Jesus over and over again until you vomit into your own popcorn bag.

4) Save on electric bills by cooking outside! George Dubya claims there's no such thing as global warming, but I have it on good authority he's mistaken in this instance. The idea that you can fry an egg on the sidewalk here is totally bogus (we don't have sidewalks), but you can make a boffo crepe au chocolate! Hershey bars are cheap, and "Freedom Pancakes," in modern parlance, are so thin you can cook them up in no time on any freshly tarred surface.

5) At least it's a dry heat. Except during the months of July, August and some of September.

6) Fort Lowell Road. When the monsoons come, there's enough water in that one section near Country Club Road to river raft, attaining speeds comparable to the Colorado River. Of course, there are a few pesky cars to dodge, but that makes it all the more exciting.

7) Palo verde beetles. You know the ones. They fly and are as big as Shaquille O'Neal's shoe, with mandibles that look like they could snip your head off. I remember once waking up at one o'clock in the morning to find one of the little darlings crawling up my thigh. I screamed so loud I deafened my spouse in one ear.

8) Jumping cactus. You know, the bunchy ones with the blond spines. Actually they're called "cholla," which must mean "gnarly little fuckers" in Spanish. If you walk within 10 feet of one during the month of June, it will jump out and stick to you (don't let those naturalists tell you otherwise). This makes you an excellent medium for seed transport, thus enriching our environment for future generations.

9) Rocky Point. In Spanish, Puerto Peñasco, meaning "Jesus friggin' Christ, how can it be this hot at the damn beach!?" The interesting thing about the local ocean is that it's relatively small compared to the Pacific or Atlantic. So at Malibu, or even the Jersey shore, the water affects the land temperature by cooling it down; at Rocky Point during the months of July, August and September, the land heats the Gulf of California up. You can take a dip and pretend it's refreshing, but only if you're really drunk.

10) The kids are out of school. This creates many and varied opportunities for family bonding. How many parents out there have actually ever played Grand Theft Auto III with their lovelings? Let me tell you, it's not all that bad once you get used to the flying viscera, massive amounts of blood and absolute lack of moral content. It's all about points, dammit! And it's a great way to re-connect with your son after throwing his $600 amp into the swimming pool in a fit of pique.

There--I feel better already. Bring it on, baby. Only please wait until I've checked to see if the central air conditioning is working.

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