The Time and Temperature Is

Quick, think of a clichéd piece of writing advice. Did you think of something other than, “Write what you know!”  From the first day of kindergarten to the last day of graduate school, I don’t think I ever took a class where I was required to write something creative where the teacher didn’t instruct us students to “Write what you know!”  I have apparently taken this mandate to heart, because pretty much everything I’ve written for this blog has hewed to this rule in letter and spirit.  Maybe one day I’ll break it and write what I don’t know – I could write about what it’s like not to be popular and not to have cool clothes and friends – but that day isn’t today.  Because as sick as you are of reading about this particular topic, it is for the moment what I “know” better than anything else.  I speak, of course, of whipping one’s self into peak physical condition.  Kidding.  What I really know right now is spring.

This past weekend in New York was – to use a word that is as unimaginative as it is appropriate and fitting – beautiful.  Saturday and Sunday were both sunny and cloudless, with temperatures reaching into the low 50s.  I am embarrassed and troubled by the extent to which this amazing weather raised my spirits.  An example:  Melissa and I, along with 10 friends, are signed up to run the New York Ragnar Relay in May.  I have no business running this relay, and I’m still not convinced that I’ll make it.  Because I need something to point to as proof that I had every intention of actually running the race when I inevitably pull out at the last minute, I’ve been dutifully training for the last few months.  My training has consisted of following a program that mixes running and walking, with the walking tapering off as time goes on.  Saturday’s training called for uninterrupted running for a period of time that was over twice as long as last week’s, and I was really dreading it.  Just to be safe I put some packets of ketchup in my mouth that I could bite into to make Melissa think that I was bleeding internally and should stop running immediately.

Don’t do it.

Although the run wasn’t particularly easy, it wasn’t particularly difficult, either, a fact I attribute entirely to the weather.  Lyla, Melissa and I trotted happily through Central Park, picking our way between runners and bikers and rollerbladers,  collectively remembering what life outside of winter is like.  About halfway through the run I shed my jacket, drawing tremendous contentment from the simple fact of being able to wear shorts and a t-shirt outside without being cold.

After running we came inside and did some cleaning and then prepared to go outside again for the evening.  As I got dressed I very nearly opted for flip-flops and a swimsuit, but yielded to my native caution and went with shorts and a mesh tank top.  I didn’t actually, but that’s what my mind told me to wear, because, according to my mind, “If you want to be conservative, you could call this spring, but there are a lot of people – reasonable people – who would call this summer.”  And that’s how it goes with me when it comes to spring and summer, always a full three months ahead.  I believe you should start wearing white around Valentine’s Day, and I can frequently be heard complaining about the dog days of Easter.  I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember.

Because I took this picture of myself, I accidentally cropped out my face.

Christian has rather uncharitably described the home in which we grew up as the “Himmler home.”  This joke strikes me as inapt; I’ve always thought our home had more in common with modern-day North Korea than Nazi Germany.  I’m kidding, with the exception of the rules governing the topic of wearing shorts.  Because I was always three months ahead of the weather, I wanted to start wearing shorts around Presidents Day.  In order to prevent us from asking every morning whether we could wear shorts that day, my parents instituted a hard-and-fast temperature threshold that had to be met in order to wear shorts.

Given how completely this temperature determined my happiness as a child, it’s strange to me that I now can’t recall exactly what it was.  I think it was 70 degrees, but I’m not certain.  This was clearly a stupid rule, because decisions on what to wear to school had to be made in the morning, and in Utah it doesn’t reach 70 degrees at 7 AM until August.  After several years of lobbying and hunger strikes, I believe the rule was changed to 65 degrees before, say, 9 AM, and 70 degrees any time after that.


For whatever reason, we didn’t have one of those outside thermometers stuck to a window, so our only way of determining the temperature was to call the toll-free time and temperature number.  You’d dial the number with trembling fingers and suffer through the naming of the sponsor (usually Barnes Bank) and the reciting of the time – I don’t need to hear the time!  I have a watch! – at which point the impersonal, robotic voice would tell you whether you’d be have a fun, happy, carefree day or not.  For the first few months of spring, this phone call usually resulted in crushing defeat.  “The time is three thirty two PM.  The temperature is thirty six degrees.  Winter is never going away.  Aslan is dead.”

It was during these months that I was forced to resort to all manner of trickery.  Sometimes I’d wear sweat pants to school, which could then be pushed up above the knee, resulting in a shorts-like feeling, if not a shorts-like appearance.  Once I realized how silly this looked I simply started taking a pair of shorts in my backpack, making a quick change in the bathroom before and after school.  This was risky business, though, as it was easy to forget to make the change once school was over.  Further, I never knew when my Mom would be wandering the halls of my school to help a sibling with their VIP Day or to fulfill a class mother assignment.

Finally, chances were good that I could run into Christian, who in those days was not a signatory to the “Don’t Tattle” treaty that was an article of faith among the three older brothers (our oldest sister, Andrea, was unpredictable, but for reason’s far more noble than Christian’s).  Because I’m writing another post on this issue, I don’t want to go into too much detail; suffice it to say that getting caught in the act of wearing shorts in sub-70 degree weather by Christian would either result in his telling my parents or my having to shell out a handsome bribe to a loathsome mercenary.


I don’t remember in what month we’d stop checking the temperature and just automatically wear shorts; maybe May?  Now that I’m 32 I don’t have to call time and temperature to wear shorts, but I find myself jumping the gun on spring and summer in the exact same way I when I was a kid.  Which is why I rode my scooter to work today in thigh-high shorts and a half-way buttoned up Hawaiian shirt.  It felt amazing for the part of it that I was able to feel.

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20 Responses to The Time and Temperature Is

  1. Christian says:

    The rule was 60 degrees.

  2. Eliza says:

    oh my goodness this had me laughing so hard, the ketchup packet, christian as benedict arnold (?right?), so dang funny. I totally relate too, I jump the gun every time. My poor kids end up freezing because I’m so anxious to put them in their cute spring/summer clothes. I was also smiling at all the memories associated with 467-TIME, yes I still remember the number. At least by my time the rule was 60 degrees for shorts and 70 possibly 80? for swimming. so funny that we had to call that stupid number and mom didn’t ever just buy a thermometer, never occurred to me before you mentioned it. I have heard of someone growing up with it being worse though, Josh’s Uncle-in law had to wear sweaters until the snow on the mountains were gone! He literally was wearing sweaters on the last day of school in June! so funny. anyway loved this post brought back good times, thanks for brightening my days.

  3. Ryan says:

    70 Degrees for shorts and 80 degrees to run through the sprinklers, as I recall. Those were hard days, but I distinctly remember not caring nearly as much as some of the rest of the siblings. I remember Davis packing shorts in a backpack and thinking to myself “what a lot of trouble to avoid pants. How odd.” It’s just that the cool kids in my grade were always wearing pants.

  4. Braden says:

    Laughing so hard at the whole thing I can hardly breathe. It was 70 degrees, at least in the beginning. As a side note, it was 80 degrees before we could use water. For me, it was calling Mountain Fuel. That was before we were oriented towards the superior culture of Kaysville.

    I am dying about Kook not being a signatory to the no tattling treaty. I once tried a bribe and he took it. And then ratted me out. For that matter, Ryan also ate my ice cream and still told mom about the second time I hit the garage door.

    You, though, were always honorable, Dave.

  5. Braden says:

    Sorry, Ry, I repeated what you said. For some reason your post wasn’t showing up earlier.

  6. Troy says:

    I’m sure this ended up being a great post, Davis, but I lost focus once you mentioned you were running the Ragnar.

  7. Davis says:

    Troy, I said I was signed up to run the Ragnar. Big difference.

  8. Troy says:

    For real, though, I really hope you do it. And I hope you wear a mesh tank top while doing it. Good luck with your training.

  9. Ashley says:

    The ketchup…hilarious.

  10. Christian says:

    It was seriously 70 degrees for you guys in the early days? That’s seriously crazy. Ryan, you didn’t care because your pants were so high as to basically render them capris, so you had that nice airy feeling year round. Maybe I wouldn’t have been such a turncoat had my own kind treated me with a bit more civility and not insulted my intelligence with laughably low bribe amounts.

  11. Katie Sherman says:

    Davis-When I first started reading this post I had no idea the twists and turns it would take on. I cannot get some of the images you described out of my mind. I know you don’t remember me but I sure remember you walking around the halls of dear ol’ Davis High in shorts. I remember thinking, ” I cannot believe his mother let him out of the house like that on a brisk 64 degree day like today!” I have to say though I can totally relate. As a fellow New Yorker, the last few days have been heavenly. And while it is still just 40 degrees, I broke out my flip flops and have been walking around outside in them with a big smile on my face. Yes, there is still A LOT of snow but I just step right through it. Who cares? I also have something to say about Ragnar. I ran the Las Vegas Ragnar last October. Turn back now while you still have a chance!

  12. Andrea W. says:

    Wow, Davis this post took me right back. I also relate to the terror and fear on the whole running/Ragnar thing. You are funny and had me really laughing hard. The mesh tank top – killed me. Mesh clothing is always funny, isn’t it? I totally know what you mean though something clicks in my brain and I decide it’s Spring. It kind of doesn’t matter what the weather is I’m going to pull out the flip flops and skirts with no tights. Kind of a “if you build it, they will come” mentality.

    Christian, your entire last comment, every word was hilarious.

  13. Ben Pratt says:

    *sniff* I miss Barnes Bank.

    Great post, Davis. I’ll stick to physics and sci-fi jokes, and you can write about stuff like Spring, because your expertise is evident!

    I thought Spring had come to Seattle. Camellias, cherry blossoms, and plums were all in bloom, crocuses had popped up everywhere, and flip flops even showed up. Then yesterday it snowed briefly, and this morning I had to scrape hailstones off of my car.

    O treacherous Spring! How does one bribe a season, anyway?

  14. Jean Smith says:

    Hey…Jean here…a little blast from the past. Just had to tell you that I am laughing my arse off. Only you could take such a random topic and turn it into pure entertainment. Thanks!

  15. Macy Bell says:

    Rex is just like you. If it remotely feels sort of warm outside he trys to change into shorts and a t-shirt after school. I am a bit more relaxed about it though, I figure he will know if he is too cold to play outside in a pair shorts in 45 degree weather, and he will learn his lesson. Hopefully..

    I remember calling that number to find out the weather too. So funny how big of deal that is, but as a mom it is a huge deal in my life again. It effects a great deal of my day. Sometimes I feel like I don’t belong where I live. I am sooo ready for Spring!

  16. Davis says:

    Eliza, good memoryo n 467-TIME, although like Braden, I remember calling the Mountain Fuel number, too. In fact, I think there may have been a few numbers we called, always sniffing around for the highest temperature. And yes, that is a picture of Benedict Arnold.

    Ryan, the statement, “but I distinctly remember not caring nearly as much as some of the rest of the siblings” would basically any topic.

    Braden, I’m pretty that – like with most things – the 70 degree rule was relaxed over time, though I’m not sure I was in the house when it got to 60. It’s true – while not always on the same team, you and I knew we could do business together.

    Troy, thank you. I hesitated to even mention it in public because there really is a pretty good chance I’m not going to make it. We’ll see what happens.

    Ashley, speaking of hilarious ketchup, Melissa and I forgot to tell you that while you guys were ordering the other night at the Burger Joint Chase put an entire ketchup squeeze bottle in his mouth like a baby’s bottle before I could stop him. Cute. And gross.

    Kook, I’ll not deal with your turncoatedness here. I have a whole post cooking in my head on that topic.

    Katie, I assume Sherman wasn’t your maiden name? Where in NY are you? Way to beat back the winter with your flip flops. I’m proud of you.

    Andrea, mesh clothing is never not funny. Although I don’t think you can really see it worn in public outside of Lagoon, which is a shame.

    Ben, indeed, I forgot an RIP for Barnes Bank. Who sponsors the time and temp line now? And yes, when Spring comes, and then leaves, you end up wishing she’d never come in the first place, and you have a hard time trusting her when she comes back the second time.

    Jean, hi! Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’re well. . . .

    Macy, I like your approach. What is everyone so afraid of, anyway? Frost bite? Hypothermia? Brian Tait wore shorts every day of high school and he’s just fine. And yeah, as I’ve thought about how much the weather affects my happiness, I’ve wondered a little bit if Utah is the place for me. . .

  17. Rebecca says:

    i didn’t know christian was such a tattle-tell. it’s funny b/c i find myself in the same predicament: as soon as it’s sunny and a little warm, i want to wear white and springy colors (not necessarily shorts but that’s probably more to do with my “straight and narrow legs” than the temp.). I seriously think i might have a touch of seasonal affective disorder b/c when the sun is out and it’s a little warm, i feel like i just took 3 happy pills or something.

    btw- that’s really cool that you’re running the ragnar! congrats!

  18. Katie Sherman says:

    I have lived in Rochester for the last 4 years. We are moving in June to Texas so I will be wearing flip flops or thongs (that is what my Dad calls them 🙂 year round. So excited about that! So do you live in the city? Oh and my maiden name is Richins. I think I am one year older than you but that is a bit fuzzy.

  19. Ryan says:

    Katie Richins!- great to see you here. And good luck with the move- sounds like the perfect thing to be looking forward to right now.

  20. Great article as always, thank you for writing so much informative stuff on a regular basis.

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