Prithee, where be the A/C?

One thing I had forgotten about Europe but which I'm reminded of in these hot summer months: Europe has some sort of prejudice against air conditioning and ice cubes. I have yet to hear a good explanation why this is so. Last summer, during the heat wave that nearly crisped Lance Armstrong during a long time trial, thousands of elderly people in France perished. Maybe it's some perverse form of population control.
July would not be my first choice of months in which to visit Europe, but that's when the Tour de France is held, and so. It's perhaps the hottest month of the year in Europe, and after a day of cycling in the scorching heat and oppressive humidity, the last thing I want to come back to is a hotel room or apartment without air conditioning. But that's often the case.
France has improved a bit. I think all the hotel rooms I stayed in during the Tour had air conditioning this year, though the quality of said air conditioning units varied. Ice cubes, however, are still a scarce commodity.
"Des glassons?" I would plead, holding out my empty glass to the bartender.
It brought to mind Patrick Stewart as the maitre'd at L'Idiot in L.A. Story: "You zink you can hev zee duck weet a craydeet leemeet lahk zees? You cannot hev zee duck. You can hev zee cheeken."
The lack of air conditioning and ice cubes may explain why I'm eternally parched and dehydrated. I can't remember a moment when I haven't been thirsty since I arrived in Europe. Even when I'm bloated with water, I still feel like I've just walked out of the Sahara Desert. Cycling with only two water bottles was just not enough. I'd have to pause in the midst of my rides to dash into cafes to fill up.
The other night, Greg, Kristin, Peter, and I attended a performance of the Jerry Springer Opera. It was a muggy day, and I had been looking forward to a few hours of respite from the heat in a cool, air-conditioned theatre. Surely the theatre would have air conditioning.
Oh, what a naive fool was I! On stage, as Jerry Springer descended into hell, we were gasping for air in our own personal hell, sweat pouring down our heads and affixing us to our fabric seats in the oven that was the Cambridge Theater. Riding on the Metro or the Tube? Bring your own air. The public intercom at the Tube urges all passengers to bring a bottle of water aboard, and signs illustrate the dangers of the trapped air in the tunnels below, depicting the silhouette of a Londoner collapsed at the bottom of an escalator leading down into the Tube.
Though I can't explain the paucity of air conditioning in France and England, this peculiarity explains many other things. Why the French are so thin: they sweat off several pounds each day walking around town. Why the French spends hours upon hours sitting in cafes: they are trying to move as little as possible in an effort to avoid sweating. Why the parfumeries are at the ground floor of French department stores, and why they're some of the most massive parfumeries in the entire world: no explanation needed.
It got to the point where we began selecting restaurants that advertised "salle climatisee." Who can eat in a sauna? After all, I have to live up to the stereotypical image of American obesity, and I can't very well do it lolling about in a cafe, smoking cigarettes.
FOOTNOTE: What I need is one of these Avacore devices. I first saw them being tested by the Stanford football team at Stanford Stadium.