The temperature that day was over 100 and was so humid. If any part of one’s bare flesh accidentally made connection with a wall or large appliance, it would stick there, the way the tongue will stick to a frozen metal pole in December in Maine. (Sure I have. You too, I’ll bet.)

My dear husband Mongo and I were driving somewhere that day — I forget to where — feeling pretty smug and comfortable (in other words, dry and cool) in the interior of our past-prime car (but not so past as to not have AC.)

Isn’t it amazing how glorious a horribly hot summer day can be when viewed from the interior of an automobile bloated like a huge metal balloon with four-digit BCUs? Paradise, right?

It was.

Mongo and I were having a great time. Terrific music played on the radio, we were planning a picnic, laughing and horsing around and were obviously really looking forward to wherever we were going. But, even though I don’t remember where we were on that blastingly hot day, I do remember the day itself.

We were driving on an old two-lane country road, enjoying the scenery and passing many homes built close to the edge. I turned my head to look out the side window and saw a young boy, probably 11 or 12, dark haired and husky, and I could see he was busy cooling himself off.

He was wearing a snorkel and diving mask, and was standing waist deep in water, fully prepared to dive into the cool, shining wetness to escape the day’s hideous heat and the noise and exhaust fumes from the cars and trucks rumbling by his family’s ramshackle, sagging home.

Mongo and I zipped by that kid. I don’t even think he saw the boy, but I turned to look out of the back window as we drove on and saw him checking the straps of his diving gear, looking very serious, and I could certainly understand he was probably anxious to get all the way down into that water.

But the sight of that kid sobered me, and I turned back to the front, and suddenly didn’t feel much like laughing and horsing around with Mongo any more, in the cool interior of our car.

Now I felt guilty and saddened. I began to feel a pressured sense of not being fully appreciative of my very good life, and that fact added more to my gloom.

Mongo turned to me. “What’s with you,” he said, seeing my serious face.

“Nuthin,’” I answered, and of course, like most men, he believed me.

What was wrong was that boy I saw? He made me think, when what I wanted to do was have fun, be cool and dry on that furnace day and to not feel guilty. And, not only that, I wanted to feel smug and cool and dry.

What I wanted was to be in our big old car with enough money to buy it some gas and have enough left over to also buy some food for our picnic.

What I wanted to do was to continue laughing, to keep driving without care, to keep speeding happily toward our now forgotten destination.

What I did not want was for my conscience to kick in and make me think about stuff, to be more balanced, less self-centered and more concerned with the world’s problems.

What I did not want was to be forced to face the reality that some people have to make fun and pleasure for themselves with what they have lying about, instead of their being able to jump into an air-conditioned car and drive somewhere to find it.

What I didn’t want that day was to think about other people not having nice things, not having the things that give fun and pleasure, not having it so great.

But that kid in his diving gear forced me to reluctantly think about all that.

Yes, he was standing in that cool water on a hot day, splashing himself with it, preparing to submerge. So what was the problem?

The problem was his swimming hole, his pond, his swimming pool, his great, clear, cool and vast ocean. The water in which he was standing waist deep was contained in a large, rusting blue barrel.

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