The Cool Down

New Yorkers, I’m not sure if you noticed, but it was 100 degrees today. Apparently the heat index made it feel like 115, and as I made my way home from West 4th Street up 6th Ave. at 3 PM I suddenly felt myself flushing and growing slightly faint. In my defense, there was a large computer in my backpack. Also in my defense, the only liquids I had consumed thus far were: (1) Watermelonade from Rickshaw (a perfect summer drink), and (2) an iced latte. I needed a liquid fix and that liquid fix needed to be water and suddenly I found myself on 18th Street. What’s on 18th Street? Of course: City Bakery.

So I mozied across 18th Street and entered City Bakery and though the air conditioning wasn’t blasting the way that it does when you walk past Old Navy, it was certainly cooler than the microwave oven of a city outside. Unlike the 12 to 2 o’clock rush, City Bakery was quiet at 3 and I grabbed a tepid bottle of water (their refrigeration unit is never working for bottled drinks; I’m not even sure why they even have that unit, it’s never working) and I ordered myself a pretzel croissant.

A pretzel croissant may not be the best thing to eat on a hot day: after all, salt dehydrates you. But, one might argue, that salty things make you thirsty and being thirsty makes you drink more so it’s actually a healthy choice. Either way, I plopped myself down on a banquette, pulled out a book (I’m reading M.F.K. Fisher’s “The Gastronomical Me” and really enjoying it), and nibbled and sipped as I felt my spirit restore itself.

Next to me was a woman knitting, across the way a man sipped an iced tea. It suddenly dawned on me that this is a ritual smart people partake of: the afternoon Cool Down. In Spain, I know, it’s called a Siesta; and the Brits have their tea. New Yorkers, at 3 PM, let’s all eat croissants and drink bottled water. We have a right to not melt on city sidewalks, we have a right not to suffer from heat stroke. The Europeans have it right, it’s time we caught up.

Or, maybe we should all move to Alaska?

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