Frank M. Conaway, the 74-year-oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooold candidate for mayor, was saying yesterday, "It's a matter of mind. If you don't talk about it, you don't feel it."
Thoroughly cool and collected, Mr. Conaway, the Circuit Court clerk, was in a crisp lavender shirt, with a tan-and-cream patterned tie and a brown suit that he kept buttoned at the waist. But all around him: the city, the state, the Mid-Atlantic region - the inner solar system, for all we know - lay pinned, gasping, zapped by the heat, weak of mind and wilted of body.
The streets were hot as blazes, with just about nobody on them. Should you dash from one air-conditioned spot to another, or lurk, furtively, sticking to the shadows? In the humidity was the answer - it gripped your skin, wrapped your chest, and its advice was to be as still as you possibly could. It was the humidity that encumbered you: all that moisture, an airborne sea of it - and in the midst of drought, no less.
On winter's coldest day, you can nonetheless find warmth, in wool and down and central heat. We act as though summer is simply the reverse, thanks to the A.C., at least for those fortunate enough to have it, at work and at home. Plenty don't. They can't escape the heat; they can't bundle up against it.
But even for those who do, it's as though there's an inexplicable, reptilian response to weather like this. Enervation rules, regardless. Your body stays cool; your senses know something else is going on.
It's a matter of mind. You can't escape it; you can't not feel it. Enough already.