Crazy Heat

That’s the thing about the city in July. By the fourth day of breaking 90, everybody starts to go a little insane.

Naperville police arrested three men early Monday on charges of stealing a United Way fundraiser sculpture from the downtown area.

Police said Michael P. Musser, 21, of Oswego; Jordan M. Gomer, 18, of Naperville; and Christopher R. Banko, 26, of Naperville pried a mushroom sculpture from the Riverwalk near Jackson and Webster Avenues. Police said they stopped the pickup truck that the three men were riding in just blocks from the scene at 12:53 a.m. Monday after spotting the sculpture in the truck’s bed.

Banko, Musser and Gomer were charged with theft, criminal damage to state-supported property and criminal damage to property, police said. They were released on bail.

The mushroom sculpture is one of several displayed in downtown Naperville as part of an annual United Way fundraiser. The sculptures of mushrooms, fairies and butterflies were purchased by individuals or businesses, decorated by artists and displayed for the summer.

One summer I worked for a little newspaper where the editor rode his bike to the office, and the summer began and ended with gunfire. Our boss sat back in his chair, listening to the police scanner report shots fired not six blocks from our office, and sighed. “Spring training,” he said. You had to laugh, or you’d just start screaming. It was that kind of heat.

And the hotter it got the dumber the criminals were. That was the summer somebody killed three people and hid the gun by stuffing it in his girlfriend’s kid’s Teletubby. That a guy went to rob a bank and held the holdup note behind him as he stood in line. The cops were waiting when he came out. Police chased a speeder who wouldn’t stop; when they pulled up next to the fleeing driver they recognize him. He’d come into the station that very afternoon to register as a sex offender. The following week they pulled a guy over who had his coke spoon on the seat next to him. When they asked him what it was, he picked it up, licked the coke off it, and said, “What, this?” People pawned lawnmowers to feed their heroin habits. Five lawnmowers, same pawn shop.

Every summer, it never fails. At a local festival a couple of years ago two teenagers went up to McGruff the Crime Dog, who was there to teach the kids to take a bit out of crime. They pulled off McGruff’s head and started beating the kid inside the costume with it.

It’s not just criminals, either. A bunch of guys erected a huge inflatable rat they called “Scabby” outside a business they said was using scab labor; when the local inspectors confiscated it, saying it was too tall to conform to the sign ordinance, these big beefy construction types marched themselves down to the village hall and held a “free the rat” rally. They got the rat back. Crazy things happen in the heat.

A friend ditched her live-in boyfriend to move cross-country, in with a man she’d never even kissed. Another friend chucked his job and decided to bike to Canada. People lose their minds, a little, when the weather’s like this, and it’s not all bad. The neighbors have parties on the back deck every night. Long after the candles have guttered out and the wine’s gone, we sit, talking, until the mosquitos finally drive us inside.

How hot is it where you all are?