Where air conditioning is the No. 1 commodity

I truly enjoy summers here and, daily, think back to the same months in New Orleans — where, in August, the living wasn’t easy.

My wife and I usually go down there in either February or March, which is when my sister and her husband take their vacation while we house sit and take care of my brother while they’re away.

We go down at other times as needed but, in general, that’s the scheduled trip. That it also coincides with Mardi Gras is but a minor detail hardly worth mentioning here even though we’ve been known to “pass a good time” while down there. One thing we never do (Note: Tourist advisory follows) is go down there during the summer.

For those of you used to the local temperature and humidity, I’ll explain.

The temperatures here that we call “summer-like” tend to show up in New Orleans in mid-March or early April. By May, you begin to gain an appreciation of the terms “heat and humidity,” and June is simply the month that sets the stage for July and August.

For those of you who’ve never been there during those months, I should mention that, if you decide to go, be very demanding in your choice of rental cars. Insist that it have the most powerful air conditioner available on Earth. In fact, if it can’t flash freeze a woolly mammoth, you simply do not have enough cooling power available to keep you alive.

Once you’ve determined that the car you’ve rented does have an acceptable air conditioning system, have the rental agency hard-wire the ventilation selector to “Max A/C,” the temperature selector to “Cold,” and the fan to “High.” There are no other settings capable of handling the situation and you do not want to be experimenting.

Ever seen a mummy in a museum display? Most are actually tourists who were visiting New Orleans in July or August and tried setting the car A/C on “low” in order to “save fuel.” Further, if your car has a key fob that will start things remotely, do so approximately 20 minutes prior to your having to enter the vehicle.

Here’s why.

In the movie, “The Bridge On The River Kwai,” Alec Guinness was tortured for disobeying the orders of the camp commandant. This had to do with his refusing to have his men wear jackets and ties while visiting New Orleans in August because the wearing of such was a direct violation of the Geneva Convention.

As punishment, the commandant threw him into “the oven” — a confined structure made of metal and directly exposed to the tropical sun. This, however, wasn’t the original scene. The original scene involved the character played by Guinness being led to and locked inside of a dark sedan that’d been sitting in a New Orleans parking lot for several hours in August — with nary a window cracked for ventilation.

After the movie had been completed, the director — even though it was only a movie — was tried “in absentia” at the World Court for even suggesting such a barbaric scene. He was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to 20 years as a summer parking lot attendant in the Crescent City.

Anyway, we’re already beginning to plan another visit early next year to relive some old memories, see friends, and avoid sweating through whatever clothes we brought with us.

My wife and I will then, yet again, take up the discussion of whether we should consider moving back down there for good after having been away for more than 40 years.

We’ve had an IRA set up for some time now and, together with some other investments and income, we’ve just about reached the point where they would provide us the financial security needed were we to decide to make the move back to the city.

“Financial security,” in New Orleans, is defined as having enough money in your bank account to lure an air-conditioning repair person to your home on a 98 degree, 100 percent humidity day (about as common as rainy days in the winter here in Seattle) to fix the darned thing.

But, on the other side of the ledger, there’s always the pleasure of not having to explain to anyone why cheese grits for breakfast is an epicurean delight.

You’ll just have to trust me on that.

Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Send comments to: larrysim@comcast.net

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