For about the last five days, the city has been under siege by a lump of warm, humid, almost fetid hot air. The heat, the oppressive heat, sits upon us like a fat man sitting too close in a crowded subway car.
The heat, the oppressive heat has slowed the city down. Last night, after a heavy half-hour rain storm that didn't cool things down, I went out with Whiskey for her evening walk.
There's a Puerto Rican family down the street who live in one of the old tenements that were occupied by the Irish and German and Italian and Hungarians before them. They are a fixture on the block, as are Whiskey and I. We don't really talk, but we say 'hello,' and we comment on the weather, or whatever is going on on the block.
They were in foreign territory yesterday, on the other side of the block, in a group of about a dozen, sitting in cheap beach chairs in the well-regulated gush of a dog-stained fire hydrant. They had brought out old buckets of various sizes and were filling them and throwing water at each other. Their laughter was the loudest noise of a quiet New York.
Alongside them, next to the hydrant sat a giant black New Foundland dog who probably weighed 150 pounds. Her broad pink tongue, bright against the black of her fur, rustled from her panting moving in and out of her broad mouth like the sleight of hand of a boardwalk magician.
Whiskey and I walked east, toward the river, looking at the huge stratocumulus turning salmon in the sunset. Other dog walkers were out and moms pushing strollers returning from the park with their kids, and dads with kids on their backs like chimpanzees.
We stopped after five blocks or so, with Whiskey looking at me and seeming to say, "don't you know what the real-feel temperature is?"
I ignored her, refusing to go home until she completed everything a dog is supposed to do in the evening. Finally she finished the uglier of her tasks making a significant deposit next to a woman who was sitting on a stoop talking on the phone and smoking a cigarette.
The woman was too languid to move and simply smiled at her predicament. I removed the offending detritus and made my way home, to the cool of central air-conditioning that cools my apartment even against the vector of my wife's surpassing but near incessant cooking.
Whiskey settled at the foot of my chair. I put the Rio Olympics on the television set, drew a glass of seltzer and finished, finally, this week's edition of the Sunday Times crossword.
I hardly broke a sweat.