Paris hit 97 degrees Fahrenheit today, or 36 degrees Celsius.
Back when we were living in the US, this was really hot, but we really didn't quite "know" what it was like. Our grandparents remember the days before air conditioning, but for us, all we had to do to escape was head to the grocery store, the mall, the movies, work, home or our car and we would be in the cool, dehumidified canned air.
Not so here.
As I've said before, France doesn't have A/C. They'll say they do, but it really isn't used until it's nearly unbearable, and the system isn't built to handle the need we have right now. Already, people have have died. Local restaurants post specials of cold soups, cold salads and cold sandwiches, because even eating something warmer than you are is unwelcome. Local laws forbid A/C units that jut out into the street or courtyard, and 300-year old buildings just don't have it in the infrastructure to accomodate central air. There is still a belief that it is unhealthy, so when it is turned on, it's not cranked up--if you are sitting completely still, drinking a cool beverage, you just maybe, if you are really, really still, you may not be sweating. That's French A/C.
We dress in the lightest clothes we have, everyone wears sandals, and carrying a water bottle is no longer considered a "faux pas". The latest fashion statement is inexpensive "éventails"--or hand-held fans, from the Quartier Chinois, in the southern 13th arrondissement. (I have 2.) Ponytails and braids are de rigeur, and even the older ladies go without stockings.
Today I spent with my girls, making our usual Wednesday lunch, taking C to the dermatologist, and sitting as still as possible reading a magazine and then a book, to avoid the heat. The lunch made me a bit sick to my stomach (I do not handle heat well), so I spent most of the afternoon drinking water and sucking anise candies to calm my tummy and for the perception of coolness when I breathed in quickly. Every little bit helps! We ate "glaces"--popsicles, for a snack, and opened the windows, hoping for just a bit of a breeze.
As I headed home, the bars on the bus felt like hot water pipes, but since it was either hold on or fall down, I had no choice. I stopped into our local Centre Commerciale, to see if I could quickly find something for a dear friend whose 2-year wedding anniversary celebration is this weekend. I am heading to Champagne with two other friends, to whoop it up in honor of Vivi and Steph, and was hoping to score some cool wedding gift-like thing on the top floor of Printemps. But, I had 10 minutes, so my chances weren't great. Nevertheless, I stood on the escalator, making my way up to the home section. The store was nearly deserted, so I was surprised when I heard someone coming up behind me.
I turned just as I was about to step off the escalator, when I realized that the guy behind me was touching my butt.
And this just goes to show how the heat is scrambling my brain.
I was more angry at him for adding body heat to my already intolerably feverish temperature, than for touching my tush.
They say it is supposed to rain in the next 24 hours.
Dear God, I hope so.