Monday, June 3, 1996
Sun casts glad-to-be-here spell on us

BY CLIFF RADEL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A strange, yellow object has been spotted in the daytime sky.

For three whole days - Thursday, Friday and Saturday - this round thing floated overhead.

Early in the morning, it made a curious move: It rose in the east. Early at night, it set in the west.

While it was visible, everything looked brighter and felt warmer. Birds sang. Puddles disappeared. My neighbor stopped building an arc in her basement.

For a three-day stretch, the monsoon season dried up and blew away.

Just what was that thing in the sky?

"A shock," said Chris Cianciolo as she shopped for a swimsuit at Everything But Water in Kenwood. "When it was raining, I didn't want to leave my house in Piqua. I'd say hello to people. They'd growl at me. But when that yellow thing came out, it made everybody smiley and friendly."

Tim's no-wait omen

Tim Hedrick, Channel 12's meteorologist, has studied the heavens. He knows the scientific term for that yellow ball.

"It's called, A Sign," he declared in his Weather Wizard voice. "Or, An Omen."

To show he hadn't been staring too long at his Doppler radar, the weatherman explained the sign's meaning.

"It meant I could go to the grocery again and not have people tell me they've had enough rain. It meant I could have a life for a few days and GO OUTSIDE."

He's not the only one.

"My phone rang off the hook," said Charles Clark, East Fork State Park's manager. "People wanted to use the lake."

He told them: It's a mess. The lake was flooded last week. Beaches and boat ramps were covered with water and debris.

"Then they'd make the same jokes," he groaned. "Stuff like: 'Have you seen Noah go by?' It's not funny."

"Nobody wants to sit inside when it's so nice out," said waitress Shelby Ayers.

She's noticed that tips go up - "by 50 cents to $1 per table" - and orders lighten up with the weather.

"When it rains, there are a lot of heavy breakfasts. People figure: 'It's raining, we don't have to eat healthy.'

"But, when it's nice out, they order salads, fruit and yogurt. They want to live forever. They have better things to do . . . like that lady out there."

The waitress was pointing toward the parking lot. Lori Kirstein sat atop the trunk of her car. The first-year graduate student and part-time actress was cramming for an exam while catching rays.

"That represents hope," she said, pointing at the light in the cloudless sky.

Recently cast as Eleanor Roosevelt for a play in Dayton, she started acting First Lady-like and went into character. Adopting an imperial pose on the trunk of her Toyota, she intoned in a clipped accent:

"It's awfully pleasant out here today. This weather is good for the homeless and the rays won't hurt my skin. I'm Eleanor. Nothing can touch me."

Doug Owens, a bartender at Zip's Cafe on Mount Lookout Square, didn't feel as untouchable as Lori's Eleanor.

"With all the rain," he said, "I was afraid of catching SAD."

That's the shorthand term for Seasonal Affective Disorder, a bad case of the blues caused by a shortage of daylight. I'm more afraid of catching MOSS, green stuff growing on the side of my head. But, to each his own fear.

If we get another round of clear skies, Doug could catch the opposite of SAD, which is SUN.

"That disorder typically strikes after a monsoon," noted Tony Grasha, a University of Cincinnati psychology professor who just made up the affliction.

"SUN is triggered by a bright sky. People put on shorts and go outside. They put their arms around people they haven't touched in months. This makes them feel happier than they have any reason to be."

It's easy to catch a little SUN. "Just do this," he said. "When you get a bright moment in your life, run with it."

Go to the grocery. Buy a swimsuit. Hit the beach. Sit on your car. Get a tan. Smile.

As the professor said: "Enjoy good weather to the hilt. For tomorrow, it may rain like hell."

Cliff Radel's column appears in The Enquirer Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tips and comments most welcome. Call 768-8379 or fax at 768-8340.