Friday, July 23, 2010


Ever since my husband and I were married nearly 39 years ago, all he’s talked about every summer is getting central air-conditioning. That’s because I swear his normal body temperature is about 20 degrees higher than everyone else’s.

“It’s so hot in here!” he’ll say to me as he’s unbuttoning his shirt and fanning himself with a magazine. “How on earth can you stand sitting there wearing sweatpants and a sweater?”

“Because it’s the middle of January,” I answer.

So when we built our house, I made sure to set aside enough money to finally get central air-conditioning installed. Unfortunately, I soon learned that the money I’d set aside wasn’t quite enough for a top-of-the-line system.

In fact, it barely was enough for a bottom-of-the-line system. The system we finally purchased has an energy efficiency rating of only 3 out of 100. That means if we even so much as look at it, our electric bill increases.

“It’s really stuffy in here,” my husband said during last week’s heat wave. “I’m going to turn on the central air.”

“No!” I shouted, leaping in front of the thermostat to prevent him from touching it. “It’s only 96 outside, not nearly hot enough to turn it on. Go grab an ice cream out of the freezer. That will cool you off!”

“Not unless I rub it all over my body!” he said.

The truth is, every time we turn on the air-conditioning system, I can hear the electrical meter whirring as if it were a roulette wheel. It probably would cost us less to just go sit in an air-conditioned movie theater all afternoon.

Granted, the central air works great at cooling off the house. In fact, it works a little too great. One of the air vents is situated so it blows directly on the toilet in the bathroom. The seat gets so cold, it’s like sitting naked on a block of ice. I’m afraid that one of these days I’m going to freeze to the seat and be permanently stuck there.

I suppose I could just close the vent, but my husband, alias Old Furnace Face, would just open it again.

He also believes in cranking up the ceiling fans to the highest setting. I don’t even bother trying to style my hair any more. One walk through the house with all of the ceiling fans running and I look as if I’ve spent the last two hours strapped to a helicopter.

The bedroom fan, which is directly above the bed, is the worst. It not only provides a steady hurricane-force wind, it makes a constant “whop-whop” noise as it turns.

So while my husband lies there, bare-chested with not even a sheet over himself, I’m lying there with the blankets pulled up to my chin and my bangs flapping in the breeze, listening to him snore in perfect rhythm to the “whop-whop” of the fan. Heck, all he needs is a guitar accompaniment and he could have a hit song.

We haven’t yet received an electric bill since we started using the central air- conditioner or all of the fans, but I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for the shock of it by doing things like reading the national debt.

After we receive the bill, we just may end up spending a lot of time in movie theaters this summer.