It was too hot to do anything but sit around and complain about the heat. We ran out of ice cubes and drank warm water from the tap, wiping the sweat from under our knees and behind our necks. My cheeks were flushed pink. His shirt was soaked through. The city felt damp from humidity and summer angst.
The air conditioner was broken.
I flipped through the channels, ignoring international sports spectaculars and reality-show repeats. “There’s nothing on TV,” I whined.
“Want to do it?” he asked. A bead of sweat dribbled down his forehead and clung to his brow.
The thought of any physical activity was enough to make me roll off the couch, lie on the floor and stretch my legs out against the cool wood planks. I could feel dust sticking to my thighs.
My boyfriend misinterpreted my horizontal posture as an invitation. He slunk off the couch and put his arms around me, going in for a kiss.
“Oh my god, get off!” I squeaked. “It’s too hot!”
My boyfriend sighed. “There’s nothing else to do.”
“Great, I’m so happy you want to boredom-fuck me.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
We lay on the floor in silence for a few minutes. A tiny ant strolled across the floor, picked up a crumb, and walked away. Outside, a bus groaned to a stop, heaved a sigh, and journeyed onward down the block. I heaved my own sigh and rolled onto my back. My boyfriend’s hand rested against mine, hot and sticky.
“Are you sure?” he asked, still hopeful.
I was as sure as hell is hot. The air was oppressive and we smelled worse than we looked. It was a recipe for disaster—not sex.
Of course, I understand why my boyfriend was so turned on. The summer is supposed to be a sexy time. Magazines spend all winter and spring gearing you up for your gorgeous beach bodies while stores stock clingy summer dresses and miniskirts. I know how I’m supposed to look—sun-kissed, windswept and glowing. But no amount of bronzer will transform me into that golden summer babe in the glossies.
In reality, I’m sunburnt, disheveled and sweaty. My makeup runs, my deodorant gives out, and my cellulite is two cheeks to the wind. My hair is dry and so is my skin—not that you can tell, as it’s coated in a greasy layer of perspiration. My face is flecked with as many pimples as freckles. The lip gloss melts off faster than I can answer “Maybe it’s Maybelline.” My legs are never as smooth as they could (or should) be. My stomach is not as flat as I want it to be.
The art of summertime beauty can only truly be maintained using industrial air-conditioning units and Photoshop. The act of summertime love can only truly be consummated using a cold shower and good music.
I lay on the floor, grumpy, while my boyfriend heaved a frustrated sigh. The humidity was oppressive. My brain felt like it was being squeezed from both sides by hot oven mitts.
“Do you want to go to the movies? It’s always cold in the theaters.”
“Want more water?” I offered, hoping he would say no so I could continue to watch the ant work its way back into the kitchen. “Or do you want a drink? There’s vodka in the freezer.”
He stood up and reached down for me. I gripped his sticky and hands and he picked me up and carried me into the bathroom. He stripped off his shirt and I let him take mine off, kissing me slowly. He turned on the shower and pulled me into it, and the two of us stood under the cool water, draining the sweat and the bitterness down the drain.
“You have raccoon eyes,” he told me, kissing my wet forehead.
“Your lips taste salty.” He slowly slid his arms down my shoulders. “Watch the sunburn, buddy.”
We sat on either end of the bathtub, splashing each other and laughing. My makeup smeared off my eyes and down my cheeks. My hair was tangled. He didn’t care. We took refuge in the shower, rejuvenating our bodies, our relationship and our sex drives.
The water was cold, but it was the hottest I’ve felt so far this summer.