a feeling of relief sweeps over the streets of Harlem
It’s brutally hot in the city on an unbearable summer’s day in mid-July. Yesterday, I made the mistake of walking across town to the pharmacy to get a prescription refilled. I arrived back home with a moderate case of heat exhaustion and a pair of underwear that squeaked when I wrung them out. I have learned my lesson. This morning I look down at Sophie as she lounges primly upon the floor directly in front of the box fan and I tell her: “You can make pee-pees and poo-poos on the floor today, girl, ’cause we sure as hell aren’t going outside”. It takes the little princess a while to realize that Daddy is serious, and, eventually, she pees and poops in the privacy of the darkened hallway, the entire time demurely glancing backward over her shoulder wondering when all hell was going to break loose. “Goood giiirrrlll!” I coo in my most reassuring tone. “Gooood poopies and pee-pees in the hallway!” Surely she must think today is her birthday.
At the merciful end of a sweltering day such as this one, a feeling of relief sweeps over the streets of Harlem. A slow procession of sticky, sweaty people emerge from their stifling apartment buildings, lawn chairs in tow, to sit outside on the sidewalk and recover from the life-sapping heat of the day. Most apartment buildings in Harlem don’t have central air conditioning, so more often than not, it is hotter inside than it is outside. Even after sunset, if the night air cools down only a mere ten degrees, the psychological effect of not being broiled by direct sunlight bouncing off melting asphalt is a welcome change.