By Dr. Don Newbury
Americans have fallen into a crevice of sloppiness with usage of the word “hot,” and it has nothing to do with 100-plus degree days.
Indeed, “hot” has become a handy word for descriptions that don’t involve thermometers.
“Hot” describes fast cars, stolen property and well-sculpted bodies.
Coming to light are precise procedures to measure “hotness” that may put the “quietus” on flippant use of the word.
This could be “bubble-bursting” for many current well-worn uses.
(“Hotter’n a two-dollar cook stove” was an expression my old dad used often, usually to describe the weather.)
Likewise, it should cause us to “tighten up” our answers for the “how hot was it?” questions. We must purpose to be more precise. Forget the times when it was so hot that:
• A dog was chasing a cat, and both of ‘em were walkin’.
• Eggs were frying on the sidewalk.
• Fish were caught with ticks on ‘em.
Forget, too, it being “so hot” in Arlington, Texas, that a school playground burned to the, uh, ground. Turns out it was made of synthetic material, like the yards of a couple of dozen other schools. Arlington ISD is playing it safe, and the switch back from synthetics to pea gravel is underway. The cost is a quarter-million dollars or so for playgrounds to meet fire codes. In the meantime, the kids will “make do” with sidewalk hopscotch.
Chili cook-offs are taking a hit, too. Just think: We’ve been measuring chili’s relative “hotness” with “alarm numbers” counted in single digits.
This won’t get it done. Relativity must yield to specificity.
The integrity of cook-offs hangs in the balance. To do less is tantamount to messin’ with codes of the Old West.
We’ve been clip-clopping along in blissful ignorance. I mean, “hotness” measurement procedures have been around for nearly a century.