A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.

By Nina Pajak

I can’t talk. I can’t think. It’s too hot. I take back every bad thing I’ve ever said about winter and the bone-shattering cold and the fact that every day from December through March through  feels like the world just died a little bit more. I take it back! This. Is. Brutal.

I give up. I give up on my hair, which despite my best efforts and nice, stupidly expensive products, insists on puffing out into a frizzy nightmare. I look like Gilda Radner as Roseanne Roseannadanna. I mean, why do we bother? It’s a losing battle. I walk out of my door wearing nice clothes, my hair tame and smooth, my makeup fresh, and I’m feeling just swell. And within minutes I am frizzed out, sweating, my outfit is wilted and my makeup is sliding down my face like a Salvador Dali painting. I could carry around one of those mini fan things, but everyone knows it’s a gateway accessory. Before you can say “elastic waistband,” I’d be wearing a money belt and a Mickey Mouse baseball cap and I wouldn’t know what hit me. If we could all just agree that frizzy and sweaty is the socially acceptable look du jour, we could all relax a little. Who’s with me?

There is something about summer in the city that is unlike summer anywhere else. For one, it is particularly smelly. It’s a fine blend of the natural perfumes which mingle in the air on a daily basis—dog waste, human waste, sweat, garbage, sewage, bad cologne, good cologne, feet, bus exhaust, cigarette smoke, restaurant kitchens, food carts and the occasional vomit. Normally, all of these odors are familiar and well-balanced enough for us not to take much notice. We’re seasoned selective sniffers. But when it starts to heat up around here, the scents seem to get baked in and somehow intensify and combine to create one monstrous superstench.

For two, I am fairly convinced that the heat is actually hotter here than elsewhere, even at the same temperatures. Perhaps it has to do with the tall buildings and lack of trees and white-hot laserbeams of sun (otherwise known as rays, I suppose) refracting off of windowed skyscrapers or those shiny bits of what-have-you in the sidewalks. I don’t know, I’m no scientist. All I can say for certain is that one time my flip flops actually began to melt into the street as I waited for the light to change at a crosswalk.

I have resorted to “accidentally” spraying myself when I hose Gus down in the dog run, which is relatively unpleasant for both of us. He and I have also been chomping on ice as though it’s actually a delectable snack (for one of us, it’s more of a toy than anything else). Someone told me she was walking down by the river recently when a woman turned to her and commented on how good the swimming is at that particular spot on the Hudson. For once, I am actually pleased with the sub-arctic temperatures they maintain in my office building. I got a sunburn at brunch last weekend (on only one shoulder)! We are all desperate people.

At this point, I have simply resigned myself to looking like week-old produce and am grateful for chilled wine and cold showers. What are your strategies for summer in the city?


Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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