Sweating It Out

Excuse my depression… it’s just that…

Well…

This is the first time in four years that the air conditioners are running in this house before July.

WHY GOD?!?!!?  WHY?!?!?!

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The only reason I agreed to the forfeit is because our older cat, Shamooki, seemed to be tolerating the heat less favorably this year despite the fact I recently shaved her neck and butt.  (Yes, you read that right.)

The first day that it crept into the 90’s here, I stood over the stove checking on the rice and peeking in the oven at the enchiladas.  Needless to say, it was closer to 350 degrees in the kitchen than the cooler 90 degrees outside.  I grabbed the ice pack I had recently used on my injured knees and draped it around my neck.  I could hear the beau in the living room.  “I’m sweating and all I’m doing is sitting on the couch.”

I feel for the beau, I do.  He works in the heat all day long, has a brief and refreshing drive home in his air conditioned vehicle, and then enters our beloved home that respects the changes in seasons.  Back in his bachelor days, he could have made ice in his living room.  Now he melts into our furniture and I know he does this out of love … or maybe insanity … possibly both.

“It’s only natural to experience the change of seasons.  Our ancestors didn’t have air conditioning and they did just fine.  I love hearing the birds singing outside.  With the windows open, we wake up naturally when they start chirping and the sun comes up.  All very natural stuff here.”

I hear a muffled, “This isn’t natural.”  He may have covered his face with a pillow or perhaps a box fan.

As mentioned above, there are the things I love about summer and having the windows open.  Fresh (humid) air, birds singing, jar flies making that crazy buzzing noise all night.  You can see lightening bugs from your window while you drift off to sleep.  Good stuff.  Then there are the other two factors.

Factor One:  Five years ago, my sweet old landlord came to visit.  Her main goal was to see the flowers and trees that she had planted here long ago, but she also wanted to cruise through the house to check if walls needed to be painted and things of that nature.  While inside, she paused in the living and smiled.  “You know, we never had conditioned air when we lived in this house.”

Call me competitive, but I realized that if she could survive a summer without air conditioning so could I.  That following year, Presleigh, Shamooki and I sweated it out until the middle of August.  I frequently wandered around the house in a shirt I’d ran under cold water.  Presleigh willingly took cold baths during the heat of the day.  And Shamooki… well she managed.  God bless the person who would put her under the faucet.  When the beau and I started dating, I’m sure he thought it was weird that I would mention during a meal in a restaurant, “It’s really nice not to sweat while eating dinner.”  That August brought a fierce heat wave and even though we were surviving, I was afraid about my critters during the day when I was at work. If I had been the lone tenant, I would have kept going.  I had to think about the furry kids.

Factor Two:  I had a horrible air conditioner experience once.

Go ahead, laugh.  I hear you.

At the time, I was living in Parksley in the house that was once purple.  (That’s what everyone in Parksley called my house.)  My hell raising cousin lived in the next town up.  Her little froo-froo dog was a client of our grooming department.  On his hair days, she would drop him off so he could ride to and from work with me.  No big deal.

One morning, I woke up with the crud and called out sick.  I was feeling gross enough I forgot all about playing puppy limo until I heard a knock at the door.

“Oh my God, you look like shit.”

“Thank you.  What are you doing here?”

“He has a hair appointment.”

“Ugh.  I’m not going to work.  You’ll have to take him.”

I’m sure it began to look like an ugly battle between separated parents on my stoop as Melissa put her unleashed hand on her hip.  “I’m on my way to work.  I don’t have time to take him.”

Feeling like ca-ca, I was in no mood for this game.  “Well, I guess you’ll have to take him back home.”

“I don’t have time to take him back home either.”

I looked down at her Lhasa who had a history of cocking his leg on my furniture.  “Fine, fine.  He can stay here today.  Call my work and reschedule his appointment.  No peeing in the house, JC.”

“That was an accident!”  Melissa yelled as she marched back to her car.

It sucks being sick.  It really sucks being sick in the summer.  It really, really sucks being sick with no air conditioning and three dogs panting on your bed.  It felt somewhere between those raunchy hotel beds that you pay a quarter to jiggle and a small earthquake.

I looked at my two and our day boarder.  “You know, you guys wouldn’t be so hot if you went out in the living room.   All four of us crammed on this bed is making it twice as hot.”

The dogs continued panting and staring at me.  They wanted me to do something.  They wanted me to put the AC unit in the window.

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“Alright, you win!  I’m putting in the air conditioner but I’m just turning on the one in here.  I’m not cooling the whole house.”

My window unit was a classic hand me down unit.  Much like its early computer cousins, this beast was unnecessarily huge in size.  It was heavy and it was incredibly awkward to carry by yourself.  I dug it out of the closet and headed to the window, briefly depositing it on the bed.  It took some fidgeting, but I managed to get the window’s screen pushed up out of the way.  It was going to take a great deal of maneuvering to get the unit to hang out properly and then to get the window down all by my lonesome.  I began the dangerous mission of shimmying the AC out the window.  It made an awful commotion that caused the dogs to pant faster.  I tried to move quicker to ease their anxiety and discomfort, but as I did the air conditioner went too far and almost fell out the window.  I gasped and luckily caught it.  It was precarious; my arms draped over the top of it and fingers desperately clinging to the very back.  I took a deep breath and exhaled.  How the hell was I going to get it back in the window?

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of time to ponder that question.  It must have been when I was fighting with the screen that caused my demise.  Suddenly, the storm window dropped like a meteor from the sky.  It came down on both my arms and pinned them to the top of the air conditioner.

I cried.  The dogs panted.  My hands lost blood circulation.  All I wanted to do was lay in bed and get better.  I never asked to be stuck in my window.  It was a modern day medieval  stocks.  All I needed now was for the townspeople to come throw vegetables at me.  At least the storm window would protect my face.

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I’m not sure how long I was prisoner to the window.  It felt like years and five thousand dog pants later before I got loose.  With more effort than I thought I could afford at that point, I slowly worked one arm out of its pinning.  Since the storm window had locked in place, it wasn’t as easy as just lifting it with the arm that had received the pardon.  With the free hand I was able to painfully rock the AC back and forth enough to get the other one out.

And because I loved those damn dogs, I still went through with getting the air conditioner up and running.  The remainder of the day was spent in a sleepless coma in a bed of snoozing dogs.  I’ll never forget that day or the way I felt standing there with nowhere to go.  The three souls in that room that I would have done anything in the world for could only help by being a moral support group.

A hot breathed, panting moral support group.

 

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4 thoughts on “Sweating It Out

  1. Reading this post made me think about my own childhood in central Africa (what is now Zambia to be precise). There are only two seasons there, the dry season and the wet season. October is so hot that it used to be called ‘suicide month’ as people topped themselves just because of the intense heat. Back then, 1950s/60s, we had no air-con. I don’t remember being particularly hot, but my mum used to get up at 5:00am and go round closing all windows and pulling down the blinds (to keep the cool of the night in the house). She would then take to her bed in a darkened room and lie there with a cold flannel over her forehead. We went to school from 7:00am until 12:45pm and then home to sleep away the hot afternoon – or fool around in the pool. It all seemed so normal.
    Now I am living in China, two weeks ago it was 42C (108F) for three days in a row and I thought I would turn into a blob of grease on the pavement. Do we loose tolerance for heat as we age?

    1. When I started this crazy air conditioner protest years ago, People who were my seniors would say, “just you wait, when you get older you won’t be stubborn about turning on the air.” I have to admit, that this summer I felt the heat’s effects more (which probably means I’m getting old!). I think the common consensus is that you become more sensitive to the heat (and cold) as time goes by.

      I love the story about growing up in Africa. It’s funny as kids we just keep rolling with the punches and don’t pay any attention to things like that. I tried the close the windows trick that first summer, but I felt like it made the house stuffy. I did open up all the kitchen cabinets and closets at night though because I heard the day’s heat gets trapped in those.

      PS – I had no idea it got that hot in China!

  2. LOL – it’s not uncommon for us to start getting in the pool in March because it’s so hot – but my friends and I do have a running bet to see who can last the longest without turning on the AC. And when we have to fess up, we all bow our heads in shame… “I turned it on last week” “It’s okay, I turned mine on two weeks ago”
    🙂 Mine has been on for almost 2 months now!

  3. Ha! I have a coworker who also likes to tough out the elements with me. Much like you and your friends, we sadly admitted that we had fallen to modern comforts on the same day!

    What state is it that you live in?

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