August 10

Naked

It’s 91 degrees Fahrenheit in Indianapolis today. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be around 93. I read in The Washington Post that over 130 people have died in California from the over 100-degree heat. Global warming’s gettin’ pretty ugly.

Now, my husband and I have a running “discussion” about the fact that I hate summer. My reasoning is always the same: winter may make the landscape ugly, but summer heat makes people ugly. Too many people with no business showing off their bodies wear bikinis, Speedos, shorts, tank tops, halter tops, or no tops. Guys with more hair and their backs than on their heads cut the grass in nothing but cut-off jeans, and we have to look at their large sweaty beer guts jiggling with the vibration of the lawnmower. Yuck. Toss in the fact that the U.S. is in the midst of an obesity epidemic, and we’ve got the makings of an aesthetic disaster.

So here comes this killer heat. And the summers are just going to get hotter as the greenhouse gases insulate the planet. Accordingly, people are wearing skimpier and skimpier clothing. Thong bikins, low-rise Daisy Dukes, halter tops that aren’t much more than handkerchiefs. The problem is that you can take off only so many clothes before you end up naked. I figure that’s next, and nudism is on the rise.

Personally, I will miss clothes. They are fascinating; they serve so many purposes. Not only do they cover up our private parts to preserve our modesty and keep us out of jail, but they also cover up other parts we’d rather not expose for various reasons – scars, deformities, unattractive bits. Some clothes, like uniforms, can identify us as members of a group; others, like costumes, can keep us from being identified at all. Some people use their clothes to tell people about themselves. Sometimes we use clothes to pretend to be something we’re not. They can make us feel more confident, more beautiful, more relaxed. They can attract attention or divert it. We can dress up or dress down. Clothes have spawned entire industries: fashion designers, fashion magazines, textile plants, clothing retail. People spend hundreds of dollars on all those skimpy outfits. A lot of money will be lost when we lose our clothes. Not to mention the loss of our dignity.

Now the one thing that may save us from all this ugliness is that clothes keep us protected from the sun. So we come back to the whole global warming thing. No ozone layer means a lot of sunburned butts if we all go naked to beat the heat. I’m counting on the threat of skin cancer to keep people dressed. I can handle only so much ugly.

August 10

What a Wonderful World

My baby girl started walking today.

20 miles away on the south side of Indianapolis, a family is burying their 10-year-old son, murdered in his home by an unknown attacker.

1500 miles away in Utah, the dead body of a 5-year-old girl was discovered in her neighbor’s basement.

1800 miles away in Seattle, the dead body of a 3-year-old body of a little boy and his family was found in a burned-out house.

6200 miles away in the Middle East, children are being blown up by Hezbollah and Israeli bombs.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine said that the world was getting scarier, that it wasn’t nearly as safe as it was when we were growing up. At the time, I demurred, reminding her that when we were growing up, we weren’t being constantly bombarded with bad news as we are now. After all, in the 1970’s, we got four channels on TV, five on good days, and they all went off the air at midnight. We didn’t have six or seven 24-hour news networks. We didn’t have “e-mail alerts,” warning us about all the latest scams and criminal strategies. We didn’t have instant access to world news through the internet on our PCs and cell phones. So, I argued, the world may have seemed safer, especially to a child, than it does now to us as adults.

Today, though, I was just glancing at the headlines and couldn’t help wondering: was my friend right? Is the world getting scarier, nastier, more dangerous? All I know is that I want to hang on to my children, keep them close, stay with them every minute. Of course, that’s impossible. My son starts kindergarten soon.

And my daughter started walking today.