The bizarre effects of heat on manly men

July 27, 2006|By GARRISON KEILLOR

I had meant to take up the Middle East today, but my analytical powers have wilted in the heat, and it is all I can do to get the recycling out to the curb and take the car in for an oil change. And now I'm all caught up in the question of what color sheets to buy. Flowered pattern vs. white. Thread count, etc. Usually my wife handles this, and I devote myself to larger matters -- the coming crisis in health care, that sort of thing -- but the heat wave throws everything off.

Cold weather stimulates a man. A little-known fact. The temperature drops and snow falls, and men feel the primal urge to hurl themselves into the teeth of the storm and rescue the livestock. But after a week of temperatures in the 100s, those same men become fascinated with fabrics and window treatments and recipes involving fava beans and minced scallions.

A man who on a bitterly cold day would squat on the ice and fish through a hole now is wearing yellow shorts and flip-flops with rhinestones on the straps, and preparing a salad with endive and sliced pear and walnuts and gorgonzola, and when his wife puts her arms around him and blows in his ear, he thinks, "What is that supposed to mean?"

The rise in homosexuality coincided with global warming. Look it up. Back when winter was winter, gay guys lived in Key West and New Orleans and Santa Monica. They like to show off their legs and keep tan, that's why. It's a proven fact. Warming trends enabled the tribe to move into Massachusetts. The way to fend off gay marriage is to reduce carbon emissions. And also to reverse the flow of people to the Southwest.

Retirees head for the Arizona desert, and before you know it you've got old coots in love relationships who, had they remained in Minnesota, would've sat in the Legion club drinking bourbon and Seven and griped about the cold and kept their hands off each other.

Northern blue states get less government spending than Southern reds. The more people receive from the government, the more anti-government they become. You have to wonder if some of that Southern Republican crankiness isn't the result of confusion about sexual orientation. Why so fixated on gays and gay marriage, if not because you're spending a lot of time on personal grooming and shopping for throw rugs and accent pieces, and you need to fend off the suspicions of your supporters?

And what is one to think of the Current Occupant spending his August break in Texas? Does his speech sound more sibilant these days? I am only asking a question. This is not meant to be negative in any way.

It's not enough to outlaw gay marriage. We need to beat back the lavender tide by paying Americans to live in the Northern, low-gay tier of states, a frost subsidy of, say, $10,000 per year. Plus generous disaster benefits for blizzards and cold snaps. If we give blizzards names (Astrid, Bjorn, Christina, Dagmar) and plump up the casualty list with the week's coronaries and get good TV coverage (sideways-blowing snow, people hunkered down at bus stops, raggedy girls selling matches on street corners), we could get FEMA to slip us a few billion. Grow North Dakota and gay rates go down. It's a fact.

There are no drag queens in International Falls. Maybe in Duluth, but not that many. I was in Alaska recently and was pleased to notice so many manly women, women who feel good about themselves in Carhartt shirts and overalls and hiking boots, no jewelry or doodads, no moisturizing lotion. Tall gals with a long stride and a sure hand with an axe. They weren't all that interested in me, but hey, I'm OK with that.

Wait a minute. Be right back.

Tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick.

Okay, I'm back, with a cool drink. Iced mint tea. Hot days have been easier for me since I put away the gin bottle and took up tea. With gin you were likely to get weepy after a while and drape your arm around your pal and sing "In My Life" in a high, trembly voice, but with tea you just soldier on and do what you need to do. And what I need to do is decide about sheets. I have a secret fondness for Marimekko, but I don't think the wife will go for it. So I guess it's going to be white. What were we talking about?

Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" can be heard Saturday nights on public radio stations across the country. His e-mail is keillorj@prairiehome.us.

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