How hot is a hundred and ten, really?

Make that a heat index of a hundred and ten.

Or, if you're from these parts, a hunnert 'n' taeyn*.

A heat index is the measure of heat plus humidity plus wind plus the number of demons released from the Hellmouth at this time of year. Anything over a hunnert means that you're in real physical danger if you try to do anything remotely active outside. This, of course, does not stop the hipsters from riding their fixies or the poor bastards at the roofing companies from getting a paycheck, but those types are a different breed.

A hunnert 'n' taeyn heat index means that dogs don't so much pant as become enormous tongues with vestigial furry bodies attached. Max, who refuses to come inside unless it's actively thundering and hailing out, will scratch desperately at the door starting at about 1 p.m. and will stay inside despite being sniffed by The Horrible Kittehs all afternoon.

A hunnert 'n' taeyn means that you drive with your fingertips on the steering wheel.

It means that all your errand-running had best be done by nine a.m.

It means that you can hang out your scrubs on the line, and by the time you've finished hanging the last pair, the first pair is ready to bring in. It also means that swimming is pointless, as the water in the pool/river/lake is blood temperature. And that everything including bread has to be refrigerated lest it mold. You can't eat enough salt, you can't undress enough to be comfortable, and even flip-flops seem unreasonably restrictive. You actually start longing for El Paso, where at least it's a dry heat.

A hunnert 'n' taeyn means that even breathing outside is work. I feel for the transplanted Californians here. Even though they ran up housing prices to Silicon Valley levels and made keeping things weird a bumper-sticker campaign, they've still not learned that we don't complain about the heat; we simply acknowledge it.

Sample Conversation Between Native Texan and Transplanted Californian:

TC: "Sure is hot today."

NT: "yep."

TC: "My ice cream all melted on the way from the store."

NT: "yep."

TC: "It's, like, a three-block drive, man! This is nuts!"

NT: "yep."

TC: "And I can't find a decent gelato stand anywhere around here. I'm drowning in sweat! I'm going to die! My neighbors on the southwest side of the property have goats! How do you stand it? The Bay Area is much nicer than this! I wish I'd never moved here!"

NT: "yep." (*wipes brow*)

I walked into the Bindi-Mart today to pick up some beer (the only approved cold beverage when it's this miserable) and the guy behind the counter said tensely, with the whites of his eyes showing, "IT WASN'T EVEN THIS HOT IN PAKISTAN."

What he means is that it wasn't this humid. Money can't buy you love, but it can buy you the ability to keep your thermostat on 73* all day. As Christine Lavin observed, "You need an air-conditioner/And you are the man for me."

Only two more months, roughly, of this to go. I am not complaining; going outside in the heat for short periods has taken on the exciting, dangerous quality of going outside during a West Texas snowstorm without a compass. By Hallowe'en it'll be bearable again.

Or not. Maybe if it stays hotter longer, the Californians will all go back to the Bay Area.

*Nota Bene: I remember when I was eight or ten, the temperature was really-and-truly in the mid-hundreds for days on end. Longhorns died during that heatwave, which is unheard of. Birds dropped from the sky--and I wish I were making that up--from heat exhaustion. Anything less warm is an excuse to stay indoors; nothing more.