Robert Kirby: Warning — old guy at play; do not expose to direct sunlight

Robert Kirby

We arrived home Sunday night from a four-day family vacation in southern Utah. I thought I knew hot. If I ever did, I must have forgotten what it was like.

So when my son-in-law suggested that we pull his boat to Sand Hollow down in hell … I mean southern Utah … for a few days in August, I was all for it.

I have lived in some of the hottest places in the United States — Las Vegas, then Fort Irwin and Barstow in Southern California. Summer in all three of those places routinely topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat didn’t bother me back then. I was half the weight and a quarter of the age I am now. I remember it being hot, but not particularly unbearable.

I didn’t keep track of the temperature as a kid. My friends and I only knew when it was “too hot” to walk across the street barefoot, or stand in direct sunlight without a hat.

Thanks to my age and curricular interests (girls, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll) awareness of the heat usually came on before it occurred to me to do something about it.

A good example of this was the time I stopped sweating while hunting snakes. At the time, I considered it a plus. No sweat meant I didn’t have to wear a hat anymore. But then I became nauseated and lightheaded, which I passed off as a minor hangover. Finally, I became disoriented. Again.

These were indicators of heat stroke. My friends clued in when I finally fell down. They agreed that the sun had gotten to me. I was still conscious enough to hear them argue about what emergency measures should be applied.

“We could leave him. Does anyone know he’s with us?”

“No, we need to cool him down by pouring liquid on him.”

“All we got is beer, and we’re not wasting it on this.”

“I know! Let’s pee on him. It’s an emergency.”

Hearing this, I managed to drag myself into the shade of a car. That and the fact I was still armed put a stop to the emergency plan. They drove me back to town, pushed me into a pond at the park, and then waited to see if it worked.

It did. I had a headache for the better part of a week, a horrible sunburn and smelled like duck sewage, but I pulled through.

When my family arrived at Sand Hollow on Thursday, it was 110 degrees, according to the gauge in the car. Being a veteran desert rat, I dismissed it as a minor inconvenience. We were here to have fun, and no amount of heat was going to stop us.

After 20 minutes outside, I knew I was in trouble. See, heat is relative. Much of it depends on how old and resilient you are. If your skull starts to make squealing and hissing sounds, you know your brain is almost done.

I spent the next four days reveling in my new status as a shade rat. As long as I could see my grandkids having fun in the water and sun, a good time was had by all.

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.