Thursday, August 4, 2011
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...
I don’t have a dog in the global warming fight. I’m usually too busy refereeing sibling knockdowns, reading your Facebook status updates, and checking my hair in the mirror to worry over the speed at which our polar ice caps are melting. Don’t get me wrong. I do care about our planet, but my tired, homework-laden children and those three filthy four-legged pains in the ass capture my attention quicker than a no-win political debate. I’m a firm believer in the school of thought that goes something like - it’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter - but as we round the corner into the last unrelenting lap of this brutal season, I just have one thing to say: It’s really effing hot, y’all.
I have lived in the armpit of America for more than four decades now. I know hot in the Biblical sense, and I have a deeply intimate relationship with humid. If you have never experienced the discomfort of taking a short walk to the mailbox and then having to change your sweaty underwear, well, consider yourself blessed. If you can step outside without the hairspray on your hair turning into Crazy Glue from the nearly tangible moisture in the air, then you are among the lucky ones.
I haven’t always been a Hot Weather Wussy. I grew up in a house without air conditioning in South Carolina, and here I sit none the worse for wear. I have no memory of ever looking at our thermostat as a child, but I’m guessing that if it was one hundred degrees outside, those box fans in the windows probably didn’t bring down the inside temperature too much. It was more of a contact cool. If you weren’t standing directly in front of the fan, you might as well be standing in the front yard. And cooking? Heck, yeah, my mom still cooked during those sweltering days of Bugs Bunny and Mood Rings. Who doesn’t want to dig into some homemade fried chicken with steaming mashed potatoes and hot-out-of-the-oven biscuits when there is sweat trickling down the back of your neck? I didn’t know any better.
Toward the end of elementary school, my parents purchased an air conditioner window unit – for their bedroom. They would keep the door closed at all times, and the unspoken rule was “Young’uns should stay the hell outta there”. I remember playing outside and hearing the delightful hum of that machine, watching water drip from its coils. The freon-induced temptation was overwhelming. I would creep up the back porch stairs, tip-toeing in while being careful not to let the screen door slam, and then, sneaking down the hallway, I would quietly slink into that restricted space for just a minute or two of pure chilly Heaven. Many times I simply plopped down in front of their room to feel the tiny stream of cool air flowing underneath the door.
As a teenager, my mom and dad splurged on a second unit. This time, it was for the rest of the house. (Insert a round or two of “Hallelujah Chorus” here.) Finally, I could sit on the pleather sofa without leaving sweaty butt marks. My dream of getting dressed and walking out of the door with completely dry hair had come true! No more sleeping on top of the bed covers to stay cool at night. No more using our outside voices to be heard over the symphony of fans. Once and for all, we were allowed to close up those doors and windows, effectively turning us all into hermits.
I officially lost my edge that day. I say it’s a small price to pay for a climate controlled living space. I grew up in Helltown, my friends, so call me a wussy if you want, just don’t block the vent.