We joke about them, blame nearly everything on them, excuse ourselves from awkward cocktail parties because of them. The phrase “hot flash” screams mood swings with a Bunsen burner thrown in. But let’s be honest: Hot flashes just might be the one real weapon at hand when battling this winter of the polar vortex.

For the two or three of you out there who have no idea what I am talking about, let me illuminate you. (As a hot flash might.) They defy science; they soak clothing. Suddenly a wave of warmth comes over you so searing you could surely fry an egg on your rear.

The notion of wearing clothing during a hot flash is torturous – and, if one can be objective and detached (and trust me, when you’re having a hot flash, you yearn for a real out-of-body experience) – the human body suddenly behaves like a heated version of the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Only not so pretty. There is no warning, no “preheating of the oven”; as the name suggests, in a flash you are radioactive and just plain sweaty. Heat-seeking missiles would have no trouble finding you.

Hell for us hot-flashers is trying to navigate an electric blanket at night. Dial up, dial down as our internal temperature races from one extreme to another. Having a hot flash under the electric blanket seems to be a bit of a death wish; I always understood it was dangerous to mix electrical wiring with rivers of moisture. I worry that perhaps I’ll emerge in the morning with permed hair and no eyebrows.

The unfortunate part is that we can neither schedule nor predict these warming episodes. Imagine if we could; while I’ve not done the math, I suspect enough of us hot-flashers gathered together in the Food Court could heat the Maine Mall (and probably grill a few burgers to boot). This could give a completely new meaning to the notion of a flash mob. (That being said, I realize it might also be a major contributor to global warming.) Harnessing the hot flash could ease our reliance on foreign oil. News flash: This has grand political implications.

And so, this morning, while the wind chill outside is minus 3,000, I suspect a good, solid hot flash would allow me to walk the dog in just a tank top and shorts.

Common sense instead dictates several layers, a neck-up, gloves, a hat, two coats and insulated fishing waders. Should a hot flash arrive while we are halfway around the block, I will no doubt melt some of the accumulated ice on the sidewalk. It is the least I can do.

Polar vortex be damned. I feel a hot flash coming on.

— Special to the Telegram

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