Al Gore and actual scientists have preached and proven that global warming will eventually destroy the planet. The habitats of many species will be ruined. But as Philadelphia, PA sweats through its 5th heatwave of the summer, I realize that global warming has created a harsh environment for one species not talked about much: Hypochondriacs.
Hypochondria is the paranoia that even the most insignificant symptoms are signs of the deadliest of diseases. I’ve explained before that I’m a die-hard hypochondriac, and this heat isn’t doing me any favors.
Hypochondriacs and germaphobes may technically be defined as two separate things, but less face it. Hypochondriacs are deadly afraid of germs…and to an embarrassing, and sometimes harmful, extent.
Last week, during 102 degrees weather, I pulled into a gas station. Just before I grabbed the pump, I followed my usual routine, despite the heat: I put on my winter gloves so I wouldn’t have to touch the pump with my bare hands.
My hands instantly started sweating, and I could feel everyone’s eyes on me. I didn’t care, of course. What did they know? They’ve never had the pleasure of going to the doctor’s office four times in a single week, and finding out that that weird sound in me that I had become so paranoid about was breath naturally going in and out of my lungs.
So, yes. I’m paranoid! My digits were yelling at me, though. Their sweat might as well been tears. But I wasn’t going to subject them to soaking up gasoline and the many germs of all the other Philadelphians that have touched the pump before me.
Clearly I am willing to sacrifice my own limbs to suffocating heat under the will of my hypochondria.
Nothing demonstrated this more than my wardrobe the next day.
I traveled up to Devon, PA to interview food historian, and epic heirloom gardener, William Woys Weaver. Even though this was the second day in a row where the temperature was going to reach above 100 degrees, I showed up in jeans, a T-shirt and a long sleeve button-up shirt.
I went out to do a profile on him for Grid Magazine, which means I was representing them. So, of course I wanted to put my best foot forward, and at least look semi-professional. But secretly, as I walked into this great garden full of food plants, flowers, dirt, grass, bugs, critters, insects….oh, no! Terrifying! I knew I wore long pants and long sleeves for one reason alone: My hypochondria had me fearing a run in with anything poisonous. A fly could of landed on me, and I would’ve asked Mr. Weaver if my arm should be amputated to save my life from whatever deadly disease that fly might have given me.
I was out there for about two hours, losing pound after pound in sweat.
If anything, this constant heat (this latest wave is supposed to last all week) proves that in 100 degree weather, a hypochondriac is still a hypochondriac. We will still protect ourselves in any fashion from the imaginary diseases that we believe endanger us.
So, maybe today I will wear my winter coat, if I go down to the park. I don’t want a tic full of lime disease to latch itself on to me. Looks like I’ll simply settle for heat stroke instead.