It was recently uncomfortably hot and humid in New York City (and much of the northeast, I understand) for about ten straight days. The air was thick, heated to a sickening degree, and walking through it for more than a short stretch was like walking through warm vaseline. It left a filthy slime on the skin that was most unpleasant. The air went down hard to those trying to breathe it. I would go out for a listless limp every evening slightly shaking my head. Walking through it was like being slowly and deliberately punched in the face over and over by a giant, sullen, slimy fist.
We Americans have reason to be skeptical about any correlation between a century of escalating pollution due to refining and burning of fossil fuels and the warming of the atmosphere, and the oceans, and the catastrophic climate emergencies: floods, droughts, catastrophic hundred year storms and raging wild fires, popping up with horrific frequency on every continent. American skepticism has been bought and paid for by the refiners of the dirtiest, most polluting form of crude oil, primarily Koch Industries, who invested three times more in “climate change denial” than even Exxon. They certainly have nothing to gain by mounting this vigorous campaign against scientific consensus, easily observable catastrophic events and common sense. I have to tip my hat to fucking Charles Koch, what an enormous and stunning cunt the man is.
Anyway, I was walking down Broadway one evening, at around my breaking point. I’d been philosophical during the first week of the heat wave, summer in New York City has always been famous for airless humidity, certainly by day. It began getting to me big time by day eight or nine. I dragged myself down Broadway and looked toward a favorite bench, which was thankfully empty. I sat down on the metal bench to check the score of the Yankee game on my phone. I was damp from the short walk, my Hawaiian shirt stuck to my back.
From the south, without any warning, a cool breeze suddenly blew, and it kept coming. I sat there like an old Jew in a sweaty shirt, two hundred years ago, my eyes closed and a big smile on my face. “Oy,” I said to myself, or possibly out loud, “a MEHCHAYA!” This Yiddish word indicates a pleasure that comes in the form of a great relief. A cold drink to a parched throat– a mehchaya. This beautiful, magnificent, life and hope restoring breeze, a mehchaya. A fucking mechaya.
The breeze was actually wicking the dampness from my shirt. It was indescribably beautiful. It got me thinking, after the breeze finally died down and I made my way back up Broadway toward my apartment, that a mehchaya like that inevitably reminds one of other mechayas.
I recalled my father, at the dinner table one night when we were somehow not fighting, describing a woman he’d met recently, I have no recollection of who she was. My father described her as a mehchaya. A person as a mehchaya! He had met her, possibly with some hesitation, and she had turned out to be a mehchaya. Like a cool breeze on a hot, airless night. A mechaya.