Waiting to cross at Stone and Pennington, he stood there in the sun wearing a dark-charcoal, herringbone suit. He looked miserable.
Obviously, our sharp-dressed man was unaware that wearing a suit here after May is against the law. Or it should be. If it weren't so hot, I'd launch a petition drive to ban the things year-round.
But that would mean I'd have to go outside. And starting now, I won't go outside until after September. I'll live in my air-conditioned ecosystem like a hamster in a Habitrail terrarium moving from one area to the next without venturing outside of glass, steel or stucco. I'll scamper from my house to my car to the store to pick up cedar shavings, and then it's back home to my little habitat where I'll rail against fluorocarbons, nibble on sunflower seeds and mark the days until October arrives.
I saw the first sign of summer today. Every junker parked out in front of the Arroyo Cafe had a sunshade up. I wandered in and sat down at the counter next to my pal Elliot who was reading the paper. I ordered a cup of coffee and told him the big news: I think I'm going to get a new sunshade for my car.
Without looking up he said, "Mine's a real pain. I have to stick my head out the window to see where I'm going whenever I drive. Maybe I ought to read the instructions."
I shared my bulletin with him: "I saw a man wearing a suit today." Every leather-necked Tucsonan in the cafe who overhead me gasped in revulsion and horror. Doesn't the sap know it's summer? Oscar knows it's summer because he heard his first cicada singing the summertime blues this morning. Frank says the hummingbirds have stopped humming and started sighing. Rosa saw a flock of snowbirds heading north weeks ago. Rodents who can't take it anymore are showing up in Mr. Wong's pool. Krista testified that her tortoise came out of hibernation.
"My turtle said it's so hot I'm going back to sleep."
Mr. Wong said, "It's so hot some people are hallucinating about talking turtles."
Aspen plopped down on the seat next to me. She'd been sitting in her truck waiting for an empty parking spot in the shade for an hour. She could've parked closer but she suffers from a condition called "I'm a Tucsonan."
I asked her, "Did you see a talking tortoise outside?"
I swiveled on my stool to eavesdrop on the booth where Holly, the call-center queen, was telling her girlfriends a vivid tale about how she burned her bottom on her seat belt just yesterday. I put down my cup and asked if I could see the scar. She told me to press button 2 and mind my own business.
A frazzled Steve, working on county time, rushed in.
"Dang it! I can't believe I just took a sip from a boiling hot can of soda I'd left in the car. I spat it out, spraying the inside of my truck with hot, sticky soda. Can I get an iced coffee to go and a handful of napkins? Thanks."
I looked out at the street and saw a man driving past the cafe with his windows down. He was using oven mitts to drive.
Take heed, man in a suit, these are the signs of summer.
Corinne wiped off the bar and announced she was actually able to make a left turn onto Campbell at 5 o'clock. We applauded the empty streets.
Mr. Ortega, the fry cook, said he loves the heat. Ellie May agreed. "My poor old back loves a hot car seat that's been baking in the sun! Its an awesome heating pad." Real Tucsonans like the cleansing nature of the summer heat. The midsummer sun is our deep-heat spiritual masseuse, burning out the clutter and flash-frying our illusions.
My smartphone chimed with a Star news update. I had received the ultimate sign summer is officially here. A poodle in Sun City had burst into flames.
Three seats down, Schmitt, the rancher, declared nothing beats the smell of fresh cooler pads. Mr. Ortega said he needed to change his. I offered to help him early in the morning ... around mid-week ... sometime around October.
It was safe to go outside. The sun was sliding down, the swamp boxes were squeaking and the quenching monsoons were a month away. The neon was firing up along the boulevard and somewhere in town some poor sap was doffing his dark suit, loosening his tie and cooling down in front of a roaring fan.
I hope he tosses that sport coat before it turns into a blazer.
Email Star cartoonist and columnist David Fitzsimmons at firstname.lastname@example.org