Guest Commentary

Welcome to the best time of year for bitchers and whiners

The Tucson summer has arrived, and once again, I'm crabby as hell.

I took my dogs for a measly mile walk this morning at about 7 and arrived home covered in sweat. Anything and everything I do outdoors must be accomplished before 10 in the morning.

And to all these silly people who keep moving here and using up all our water, thinking they'll have the waning hours of the day to plant their rose gardens: Well, the joke's on you. This ain't California, and you sure as hell ain't in Kansas anymore. Roses need soil, and we don't have that here. What we have is six inches of dust and some rock-hard shit called caliche. If you can get through this stuff with anything short of a jackhammer, then my hat's off to you. But jackhammer or no, soon it will still be 100 degrees well past 8 in the evening. The temperature might drop to 85 by 2 a.m. You can run your jackhammer then, but your neighbors will probably kill you.

This is Tucson, and the sun god has ascended to his throne once again.

He may get up a time or two to use the bathroom--we call it the monsoon--but basically he has glued his ass to that seat until mid-October. And he won't leave until he has seared every last one of us to shriveled and smoking remnants of our former selves.

So you might ask, "Well, if she hates it here so much, why doesn't she move?" Well, the answer is simple: I'm an idiot. I'm not as much of an idiot as I would be if I lived in Los Angeles choking on smog and cars; Phoenix choking on smog, cars, and even more heat; or Fargo, N.D., buried to the tits in snow six months out of the year, but I'm still an idiot. So I've elected to do what most idiots do: bitch, whine and moan.

Bitching, whining and moaning are sacred traditions in my family. My great-great-grandfather Eugene bitched and moaned so much during the Irish potato famine that he was shanghaied, trussed and tossed onto an ocean going rattrap moored in Liverpool harbor. Imagine his surprise upon awakening one morning to find himself in America, with neither job nor friend. Eventually, he bitched and moaned his way onto an Irish railroad crew where they worked the shit out of him. He didn't much like that, so he headed off to Denver, and became an enforcer for the Irish mob. My dad thought he was in the plumbing supply business, since he had so much lead pipe around.

His brother James emigrated to Bisbee, where he fell off a catwalk into a vat of molten metal. I don't imagine he had time to bitch and moan much, but given his pedigree, I'm sure he would have if he could. It occurs to me occasionally that one of the pennies rattling around the bottom of my purse might contain part of old Grandpa Jimmy. It gets to me on a sentimental level, makes me feel all mushy inside. Or maybe I just shouldn't have eaten that day-old chorizo for breakfast.

On my mother's side of the family, there is also plenty of bitching and whining, though probably not quite as much moaning, which would be unseemly. Great-great-grandma Smith began bitching and whining when the South lost the Civil War and her family couldn't own slaves anymore. They lost all their money as a result of this, but held tenaciously to a Southern brand of decorum that mystified me when I was a kid and still mystifies me to this day. Granny bitched about not getting a debutants' ball, about girls wearing pants, about bad grammar, bad food, integration and President Taft. She bitched about communism, atheism, feminism and Catholicism.

I come from a long line of bitchers and whiners. I come by it honestly.

And don't you just hate it when you get into your car and the steering wheel's so hot, the skin on your hand melts into it? Don't you just hate it when all you want to do is go for a walk, but your brain starts boiling and you go into a coma? And what about scorpions, and rattlesnakes, and kissing bugs? Man, I hate fucking kissing bugs ...

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