The Pun Also Rises: Oh, the humidity


If you are a sentient washcloth, you may have enjoyed the weather for the past week. But for most human lifeforms, warm and damp does not qualify as good weather. And this past week has been exceedingly humid. It has been so bad it feels almost like being trapped in a humidor. Close, but no cigar.

A lot of people when faced with this type of weather will say, "It's not the heat, it's the humidity," which is really only half right. Because it's true that a dry heat of the same temperature would feel much less oppressive without the humidity. But it's equally true that a cool day of the same humidity would feel much less oppressive at 65 degrees Fahrenheit. So it would be just as sensible to say, "It's not the humidity, it's the heat," and even more accurate to say, "It is neither the heat nor the humidity individually, but the combination thereof," although I have a sneaking suspicion that this will not catch on. My suggestions for cliches tend to sell like humidcakes.

Most people deal with this kind of weather by not going outside, which is a reasonable plan if you have nowhere to go and your house is comfortable. However, this past week had so many things going on that I had to get out of the house to attend events like Pittsfield's WordXWord Festival. If you were there, you already heard about how I travel through time to make the world's best Chex mix. If you weren't there, you missed out on a lot of cool poetry, and cool poetry helps when dealing with warm weather.

If you are attending one of the many events in the Berkshires during humidity season, it's important to plan carefully. Bring plenty of water, in case you can't wring it out of the air. Walk slowly, so you don't overheat -- in this weather, after walking up a flight of stairs, I look about as exhausted as US Olympian Gabby Douglas after an exhaustive gymnastic routine. And when walking, always remain in the shade. If you cannot see any shaded areas between you and your destination, you are advised to go somewhere else instead. Or ideally, nowhere.

Staying at home is slightly less attractive for me because I do not have air conditioning. Heck, I don't even have hair conditioning. But when I tell people that I just have ceiling fans and no A/C, they express their sympathy, which always surprises me. I view ceiling fans as a great luxury, as none of my prior houses had even that. This has taught me to appreciate having just a few fans, an important skill for a local columnist.

While air conditioning actually cools the air, ceiling fans will move the hot air around so you don't get bored with it. Instead of just sitting in stagnant hot air, you can luxuriate in a vortex of dynamic hot air in constant motion, which is much more enjoyable, according to people who sell ceiling fans. I will admit that I sometimes enjoy feeling the air blowing on my back, which I can feel because I am not wearing a shirt.

This brings us to the main advantage of staying home in humid weather, which is that you get fewer strange looks while not wearing clothes. Wearing clothes in this weather is clearly a mistake, as pretty much any shirt becomes a sweatshirt. Then again, by not wearing clothes, my desk chair has become a sweatchair. But when it's this humid, there's not much you can do but soak it in.

Frankly, I'm starting to feel like a sentient washcloth.

— Seth Brown is an award-winning humor columnist, the author of "From God To Verse", and will gladly cut you a slice of this air. His website is


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