Las Vegas' heat could be bearable with siestas and caftans

It's too hot to think, so I guess I'm reduced to writing about the weather. I swear it didn't used to be this hot. Obviously there is something to this global warming thing. I can remember a May - in fact, the May that "Bottoms Up" came to town, 1967 - that was flat-out cold. And there were others.

Lawrence of Arabia notwithstanding, deserts notoriously cool down at night. What's happened to that? Nights this summer have been hot, hot, hot. We have a beautiful pool area in my condo complex, but getting into the pool is an exercise in not burning your feet on the deck or hands on the entrance rail, or fainting on the short walk up to the entrance.

We learned long ago to cover the steering wheel and key area in the car to avoid burns, but how about the door handle on the outside? I carry a wet washcloth when I remember, but it's too hot to remember anything. My registered nurse friend says dehydration affects the memory, but who can remember to take the water bottle along? OK, I'll remember to take it.

If only it weren't for the casinos' objections, we should have years ago established an official siesta time here like other civilized cities with the same high-heat-at-noon problem. Uncivilized areas siesta without permission, as I do.

Having spent some time in Barcelona (My nephew is the keyboardist with the Barcelona Symphony), I can tell you that the entire city shuts down from noon until 2:30 p.m. or later, as do many of the great capitals of civilized nations in hot areas.

Of course, they then stay up late to compensate, which is why these are the great party places of the world. Families also stay up late, which is great for bonding with the children. And I think it's the reason Europeans are more family-oriented than Americans are these days.

Another way in which we would do well to copy older desert civilizations is in the clothing industry. Why have we not adopted the desert caftans so prevalent in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, for example? Caftans are so graceful and elegant on men and women alike, and more to the point, they don't require stockings or even gender identity.

Pantyhose are the curse of the female working class. I've talked for years about how unhealthy pantyhose are when worn in the summer; they promote heatstroke and heat rash, at the least. I wear high-heel sandals and a pedicure with my caftans, don't you? When I'm feeling wobbly, I add a cane. Don't you dare laugh at that or I'll start bringing my walker to use with the high heels.

One fabulous thing not yet mentioned about the Smith Center for the Performing Arts is that the minute the ushers see a cane, they rush over with a wheelchair. Don't you just love the Smith Center? At last, a high-class venue in tacky old Las Vegas.

Now I'm going to give away my terrific idea for a good business, perfect for Las Vegas, that I'm too old and tired to do myself. I have become like Chief Seattle, who said: "I will fight no more forever."

The idea is a custom caftans venue. All you need is a tiny storefront for people to come to, to be measured for body length and sleeve length, a selection of suitable fabrics, including dressy, or let them bring their own fabric for a small reduction in price, a large cutting table, a seamstress in the back who can make non-custom caftans to have on hand, perhaps to be hemmed at sale, and to sew the new orders immediately.

She should be able to construct the garment in two hours. Customers should be able to pick up in two days or less. There are lots of details that need to be filled in, but they ought to sell like hotcakes since it's what we all should be wearing. Go on, I dare you.

Hire me as a consultant, and I'll tell you how to make great "house pajamas" for summer wear. They can also be worn to the grocery store and to take out the garbage. I used to make them for my own wear. Everyone had a fit over them; they're cool, comfortable, wash and dry, adorable. The secret is in the fabric.

Betty Bunch is a former dancer. Today, she works with the national Elderhostel Association. Contact her at