Friday, January 30, 2009

Does it smell like burning white boy in here?

"Wow, Matt! What's Australia like?"

To feel what I feel, you need only put on a straw hat, slop on some sunscreen, and sit naked inside a pre-heated oven. Except you will need a mighty, American-sized oven...boundless, yet caged. Switch the oven to convection to simulate wind.

I've never experienced hot wind before. With my eyes closed, wind is the color blue. If I were to draw a scene with some Crayola-crayons, and needed to depict wind, I'd choose blue without a second thought. Yet here, wind is actually Republican red. And it's impossible to draw because the crayons have all melted.

"Wow, Matt! That sounds hot!"

Technically, it feels hot. You can't hear it at all. Maybe some crackling here and there. It does have an odor though. It smells hot, just like you can smell snow. But heat smells like body odor rather than the slightly metallic smell of snow. And things seem see squiggly lines of vibrating heat reflected in windows of cars and a haze in the distance. Twice I've seen infrastructure spontaneously combust...the wood slats of train-tracks smoke, char, and burn right in front of me.

The train lines seem to feel it the most. The metal railways actually warp from the heat, forcing the train company, CONNEX, to hose down the rail lines.

I recently journeyed into the city via public transit, and the sun was so hot that machines everywhere stopped working. The air conditioning surrendered first, followed by the engine. 1) Walk or 2) bake in the train-box, those were our choices. As beads of sweat formed on my brow, the dry air quickly sopped up any perspiration I exuded from meandering in the sun. During the walk, I learned a few lessons about the metric system...for example I now know what 44 degrees Celsius feels like. When I was on the Imperial system, I didn't think that was a lot of degrees. Much to my chagrin, I've learned my lesson! It's 110 degrees Fahrenheit; it turns out, they are much more efficient with their units here.

And as I walked, the sun slowly began to replace my skin with a smaller, more purpled version of itself. I didn't know that purple could be a verb, but sure enough, I was purpled by the sun. As a last resort, I began to smear cherry flavored Chap Stick, SPF 15, over my forehead and neck. It sizzled and crackled. When I got to town, I walked into the first chemist I came across. I overheard an olive-skinned Greek from another isle say to his friend, "Does it smell like burning white-boy to you?"

"Yeah. Cherry flavored."

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