OK, so I went to college in Memphis. I know, it sounds so genteel and Southern and wouldn't it be great sitting around on porches and singing "Hound Dog" all the livelong day but let me tell you something: "Memphis" is an Egyptian word that means "hot as fuck." I have no memories of my four and a half years in Memphis that do not involve me attempting to cope with the sweltering, overwhelming heat. One January, it snowed six or seven inches and my memory of even that is that it was still ninety-seven degrees. In the shade.
I was also incredibly poor during my time there. I would eat Nabisco Saltines and Peter Pan peanut butter for weeks on end - to this day, I get queasy if there is too much peanut sauce on my Thai food. Anyway, one summer - the hottest summer in the history of summers; a summer so hot the glass in the window panes slumped - I was so poor that the electricity in my apartment got turned off. I was in-between paychecks, so I couldn't run right down to Memphis Light, Gas and Water and have them flip the switch, so I had to suffer ten long days without my window unit air conditioner or my little box fan or even ice cubes from the freezer. I passed the ten days and nights by filling up the bathtub with cold water and lighting a few candles and clambering in the tub and reading "Lolita" and then "Jude the Obscure." Both benefitted from my near delirium brought on by heat-induced brain-fever and both are now among my favorite books. And now both of those books are fused together in my brain, each one a parenthesis around the hottest ten days of my life.