Beware: The invading hordes are on their way!

In the fifth century, a barbarian tribe called the Visigoths swept across Europe, annihilating the Roman Empire and leaving death, destruction and deprivation in their wake. Beyond the namby-pamby Ostrogoths and the nambier-pambier Vandals, the Visigoths inspired such terror that the average Roman was likely to soil himself in their presence.

A similar thing happens every year at this time in Tucson. Only instead of broadswords and iron pikes, these invaders wield golf clubs and walkers. Some call them "winter visitors," some "snowbirds." But enough with the cutesy palabras. Let's call these people what they are: invading hordes.

First off, I want to do something the Chamber of Commerce hates more than anything: speak the truth about the local weather. Sure, the winters are nice. So are the autumns and springs, each of which lasts about one month: Autumn runs from mid-October to November, with spring relegated mainly to April. May is nice for about 10 minutes, but then the serious heat starts to creep in, as does a sense of foreboding, unless you're a scorpion.

Most locals spend June either in a bottle of cheap tequila or in heavy denial--generally both. July? Well, July simply sucks. If you stand in the midday sun for more than 10 minutes during the month of July, there's a 50 percent chance you will spontaneously combust. It's been documented. It can and often is 100 degrees at 8 at night. There is not one good thing I can think of about July.

Except that it isn't August. During the month of August, if you're well off, you spend the days--each of which lasts about 400 years--trapped inside your house with your central air conditioning cranked up to high. Remember that Twilight Zone episode where Roddy McDowall crash lands on Mars and discovers he's trapped forever in a zoo exhibit that looks just like a tract home? Same thing.

If, on the other hand, you are poor, you'll spend those same days on the roof banging on the swamp cooler with a hammer, because goddamnit, this fucking thing just can't be working the way it's supposed to. When you discover why--that all the hoses are hopelessly clogged with swarms of bloodthirsty West Nile-infected mosquitoes--you may actually be glad when you fall off and break your back. At least it means you won't have to go outside and deal with those little bastards again.

These yearly trials are at the very core of what it means to be a Tucsonan. The right to a nice winter is not a given: It must be earned. Swanning into town around mid-October, then swanning back out again the minute the first cicada starts buzzing, is just plain wrong, and anyone with a moral sense crippled enough to allow them to do this is probably capable of anything. Seriously, can raping and pillaging really be far behind?

You can't live in much of Green Valley if you are younger than 55. Why anyone younger than 55 would want to live in Green Valley, I haven't a clue. I was in that neighborhood with my 9-month-old once, and I decided to stop at a local nursery to pick up a bag of potting soil. Big mistake. Generally, a cute, blond baby inspires coochie coochie coos and admiration in adult human beings, but not in the denizens of that place. At first, it was just vibes and angry glares, but then came the overt hostility. Those golf club-wielding geriatrics came at me like I'd brought a sack of live pit vipers into the place. I ran out like Frankenstein's monster pursued by an angry mob, so traumatized that I forgot my bag of mulch altogether.

These days, things are worse. The other day, I was nearly assaulted at my own local supermarket. If I'd been on the ball, I would have noticed the battalions of Winnebagos and pristine 1994 Buicks in the parking lot, but I missed it. It's a mystery to me why all these people were amassed in the same place. Maybe there was a sale on Depends. In any case, every single aisle was positively clogged with hostile foreign marauders babbling in impenetrable accents from places like New Jersey and Kansas City. One of them, in an attempt to scare me away from the last carton of non-fat, lactose-free milk, tried to hit me with his walker, brandishing it as effectively as any rampaging barbarian with a battleaxe. And he would have hit me, too, if he hadn't fallen over.

My grandpa used to tell me there is nothing new under the sun. I never understood the wisdom of his words until now. The ancient Romans had the Visigoths; we've got snowbirds. It's time once again for the next six months to gird our loins and fight, or barring that, slaughter the stock, hide the valuables and head for the hills.

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