Saturday, April 02, 2005


On a hot day like today, when Cambodia's rainy season still seems like a distant mirage that may (or may not) shimmer into existence at some future but as of yet maddeningly undetermined point in time, the simple pleasures of a cold 7-UP drunk straight from the can should not and cannot be minimized.

Which begs the question, at least from me: Is it better to be too hot or too cold?

(Not quite as dramatic as Chazz Palminteri quoting from Machiavelli's classic text of deception and morality The Prince in A Bronx Tale, true, as Palminteri answers that eternal question "Is it better to be loved, or feared?", but it's still a question that needs to be considered, all things considered.)

In other words, would you rather freeze your butt off or have it burnt off by the broiling sun?

Having lived in climates cold (Canada) and hot (Cambodia), I think my vote would lean towards, well, wait a minute. Take a seat. Hold the phone, Chuck. (That's a line that Michael Keaton says in his debut feature Night Shift, starring Henry Winkler and directed by Ron Howard, and that movie proved a few things, namely a)Howard has a comedic touch as a director, b) that Henry Winkler could play more than just the Fonz, and c) that Michael Keaton is a supreme, massively underrated talent who can deliver lines like the above with a kind of majestic simplicity that allows them to be quoted twenty years later by people like me whenever possible, in blogs and in life.) I was about to answer cold, to say that it's better to be cold, in the snow, on the ice, picking your ass off the driveway you slipped on, but I paused, I hesitated, I reconsidered. I tend to do that.

It's a matter of sweat, really.

You don't sweat in the winter. (Unless you run in the winter, true, because you are layered in undershirts and t-shirts and sweatshirts and toques, toques being a Canadian word that means 'felt hat', and yes I said 'a Canadian word', which is a really, really wrong thing to say, because I personally hate it, hate it when I hear somebody say "Speak American", because there is no such language as 'American', and to say otherwise is smug and ignorant and condescending, and yet I've just gone and done the same thing, more or less, which proves I have to be more tolerant, more forgiving, more altogether aware of the various and unintentional human foibles that make us, well, human.)

It's true. Sweat is rare from December to April.

The opposite is true in summer, or in Cambodia. I try to go for a run early in the morning, when the sun is absent, when the dark is total, but I still sweat, a lot, constantly. (I'm sure you're happy to hear that and read that. Reading about my sweat may not be the highlight of your day, and I apologize. Unless you're Jacoba, for which it very may well be, and for that I apologize, too. You do need to get out more, kid...)

The thing is, you don't need to move to sweat here. You just have to, like, be. And I'm not talking 'be' in any kind of philosophical sense, or Buddhist sense, or even Fonzie-in-his-coolest-sense, because he really was 'the man', one who could 'be' like no other, and there was even an episode where Chachi, the Fonz's nephew, somehow acquired Fonzie's mysterious powers, his ability to attract women at the snap of his fingers, his ability to simply ooze the essence of cool and all that it represents. Fonzie at his coolest was beyond cool, but even he would sweat in this place.

So choosing hot over cold or cold over hot depends, in no small part, on your own comfort with your own sweat.

The thing is, we forget. When we're hot, we long for the cold; when we're freezing our balls off (so to speak), we miss the heat and forget the heat and wonder if such a heat truly, actually, exists, or whether it's simply a memory of a memory of a dream, like the Ropers from Three's Company having their own sitcom -- did it really happen? (I'm here to report that it did happen, they had a show, and it blew.)

So, I can't give an answer. But I'm expecting you to think about it. I'm hoping that you at least consider it. Because it seems to represent something larger, this longing for hot or cold, either/or, ying or yang, that-which-I-do-not-have-but-so-desperately-seek; it hints at where we feel at home, where we feel comfortable, where we feel complete and ourselves. The answer could be important.

Or it could, in my case, just be an excuse to reach for another 7-UP, but hey, in this heat, I take what I can get.


Rocky's Dad said...

I have been reading your comments
on my daughter-in-laws (Jenn)blog for a while and have appreciated the positive feedback that you have been giving her.But I just found your blog and have been totally thrilled with your wonderful writing,memory for the great moments in movie and tv trivia annals as well as your insight into the human condition in general.I would hope you somehow
get to publish Canuck in Asia...
as I think your thoughts can be
quite beneficial to those all across the political spectrum.
Assuming of course that the masses
are open to common sense,humour
and appreciation for the journey
and not necessarily the destination.

Scott said...

Hi Rocky's Dad,

Thank-you very much for the positive comments! They mean a lot to me. I never know for sure who's out there reading, so I'm just happy that somebody's getting something out of what I write.

A book idea is a good idea. Maybe after I have a year's worth of posts I can start to gather them together...

Thanks again, and rest assured that there will undoubtedly be many more obscure TV/movie references to come. (You can take that as something to look forward to or a warning!)

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