There’s an old expression you can probably still hear wherever high-school football coaches gather: “He got his bell rung.”
In those grand old manly days before anyone cared about the long-term effects of concussions, “getting your bell rung” meant sustaining a hit to the head that left you disoriented and staggering — or, perhaps, laid flat.
(But not for more than a couple of plays. A man played through it, even if he couldn’t see straight.)
This week’s calendar entry makes me think of somebody getting his bell rung — not by a beefy defensive tackle, but by sizzling summer weather.
“Ding-donger,” I suppose, is a more socially polite equivalent of “blisterbitcher.”
To me, it summons visions of heat intense enough to make a man feel a little dizzy, like he’d been slapped upside the head by Deacon Jones on his way past. Like in the old cartoons, where somebody totters around after taking a lick, and you see ringing bells and twittering birds circling his head. That kind of thing.
I also find the word tremendously evocative of summer. I imagine myself broiling in some little New England town, and hearing church bells struggling to push their way through the thick air and be heard. I can just about feel that scene, for some reason.
88 degrees doesn’t seem quite hot enough for such a rousing declaration, though. I can only guess it was a humid, windless 88 degrees, hotter than it looks on the page at a distance of four decades.
(I also note that it only went down to 70 the night before, so my grandparents’ stuffy old house probably got heated up pretty good by the time the temperature hit 88.)
You’ll see how the weather on Aug. 3 bleeds over the line and enters the morning of Aug. 4. That’s a neat detail: I can just about imagine the sun burning off the early-morning clouds and taking over.
The real story of this calendar entry didn’t get written down or illustrated, though.
You’ll see that my Aunt Elaine and her fiance (just two weeks away from their wedding) stopped by for dinner.
While my grandpa was pulling at his collar and wiping his brow and drinking cold Seven-Up and getting all melodramatic about the weather, my grandma was in the steaming hot kitchen making a proper dinner — probably with an assist from my great-grandma.
Five will get you ten that neither of them pissed and moaned about the heat.
I bet, in their own subdued way, they survived the ding-donger with poise and composure that would have impressed even a high-school football coach.