Florida summers are hot and humid. We all know that. But this particular summer has been excessively, insufferably, witheringly scalding hot and humid — like a thick wool blanket soaked in 110-degree pudding and wrapped around your head.
And yet, here we are, outdoor enthusiasts who must go into the outdoors to feed our addictions to fishing, birdwatching, hunting, boating, kayaking, or whatever it is that keeps us from going out of our ever-loving gourds. So out we go, into a climate that our species clearly never adapted to survive.
Now, as intelligent (-ish) animals, we should be clever enough to devise methods of preventing the heat from turning us into human raisins. Air-conditioning is, of course, the preferred alternative, but that will limit outdoor activities to those that can be experienced through glass. Birdwatchers have a real advantage here, but even they usually do better getting out of the car.
There’s really no alternative for going outside, so we’ll just have to do our best to cool off any way we can. Fortunately, I have 40 years of experience with Florida summers, and I have a few ideas.
Just wear underwear
A time-honored technique used by rural kids across the country, this was my mainstay to avoid overheating up until about 9 years old. Now, you might think that this can’t apply to you — you’re an adult, living in adult society. But this is Florida, and beachwear (which, really, is like underwear but often more revealing) is marginally acceptable in many circumstances.
While it is more frequent to see women shopping in bathing suits than men (and more often at Walmart than Publix), let’s be clear: There is no law explicitly against it, and signs at retail establishments insisting you have to wear a shirt never define exactly what a shirt is or is not. A little creativity can go a long way here.
Ice in your pants
This is a method that I developed when I outgrew the “whitey tighties in public” look. It is exactly what is sound like: Slip an ice cube down the back of your pants (and I can’t emphasize enough that it needs to be the back).
Upside: You will indeed feel cooler, and almost immediately. The effects will last as long as the ice cube does — or, at least, as long as you can tolerate the ice cube being where it is. Downside: Melted ice is water, so it’s gonna look like you wet your pants. If you see someone trying hard not to notice, tell them it’s just melted ice. If you want to be really polite, offer them a cube (always a new cube, never one you’ve half-melted).
Once I was old enough to be embarrassed by water-soaked jeans, I started on a new idea — one that I though would be revolutionary. I had it all sketched out on a couple sheets of notebook paper (college ruled, thank you very much): A shirt and pants with tubes running through them, connected to a backpack containing water and a big chunk of ice. Pump the water from the pack through the tubes, then back into the pack. Instant water cooling, no pee-pants look.
I guess I should have patented it, because somebody else had the same idea and is now selling the things. I’m guessing they probably made so much money from it they now have a dozen vacation homes and can always be somewhere that’s a perfect 72 degrees and 35 percent humidity. They do look a bit bulky for outdoor recreation, but you can check them out at CoolShirt.com. (Want a budget-friendly version? Try https://bit.ly/3kRvS8L.)
Another notebook paper drawing, another lost opportunity at fortune and more fortune. A lot of our body heat is generated in the head, where the brain is constantly gobbling calories as it does important work, like taking a Facebook quiz to see what kind of mythical creature you are. There are also blood vessels right along the neck. Cool that whole area, and you cool the body.
The real-world item doesn’t look exactly like my schematics, which have been lost to the sands of time but as I recall would have resulted in the wearer’s head looking about three times larger. If you want to see one you can buy, go to FeherHelmets.com.
This one I saw in action a few years ago at one of the local piers. Picture a cross between a pith helmet and a sombrero — big dome with a vent, wide brim, made of plastic. Inside the dome, a battery-powered fan, pushing air out the vent. The whole contraption was raised off the head with plastic strapping, allowing air to come in from the shaded area below the brim.
The old man who had it said it kept him comfortable all day with just one C battery. I didn’t try it, but I believed him. My only concern would be wind. Perched on top of his skull, it looked a little precarious. Just a little gust would probably have tossed it in the Harbor.
OK, none of these other ideas are worth the time it takes to read them, but this one is: You need two buffs, a cooler with ice, and a little water. Soak both buffs with water and put them in the cooler, then head out to do whatever. When you start to feel a bit warm (about two minutes, I’m guessing), take one out of the cooler and put it on. Insta-cool, baby!
After a few minutes, it won’t be as effective. Take it off, chuck it back in the cooler, and put the other one on. It’s like a popsicle for your face. As long as you have ice and water, you can stay comfortable all day. Now, go play outside!
Contact Capt. Josh Olive at 941-276-9657 or Publisher@WaterLineWeekly.com.