Off the Wall
Husband reacts 'in the name of science'
September 6, 1999
It is Saturday afternoon and Sweetie is hanging over the air conditioning vent like a fruit bat in a cave. The blinds are pulled, the lights are out, and Sweetie is wearing aviator sunglasses to block the glare off the little red thermostat light.
“You can put on enough clothes to keep warm,” Sweetie says as he pulls the afghan up to his chin, “but there’s no way you can take off enough clothes to keep cool.”
If it gets one degree colder in our living room, we’ll be in suspended animation. Sweetie shuts down when the thermometer outside passes the century mark. He wasn’t designed for unproductive sweating.
“For God so loved the cool,” Sweetie says, blowing on his hands, “he sent us Mr. Carrier.”
“Ssss-Sweetie,” I ask, teeth chattering as I hug a mug of java, “was there really a Mmm-Mr. Carrier, or was he the brainchild of some ad agency, like Mr. Clean or the Pillsbury Doughboy?”
Back when Sweetie went to school they actually taught you stuff. By the time I got there, public education had entered its touchy-feely period.
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My English teacher gave us a choice between studying “Hamlet” or “Jonathan Livingston Seagull.” To be a fry cook, or not to be a fry cook … that’s probably a question.
“Willis Horatio Carrier invented air conditioning in 1902,” Sweetie recites with his eyes closed.
“Ccc-cool,” I say, pressing the mug to my ear lobe to defrost it.
“It’s a good thing you can cook,” Sweetie says.
“You can th-th-thank my English teacher for that,” I say.
Suddenly the front door bursts open. Blinding sunlight sears into the room, followed by a red-hot blast of heat. Screeching, Sweetie throws his arms over his face.
“Man,” Kat says, standing in the open doorway and rubbing her chill bumps, “it’s freezing in here.”
Along with giving up meat (except of course the twolegged kind on Harleys), Kat has decided to give up air conditioning.
“Do you have any idea what air-conditioning does to the environment?” she calls out from inside my fridge.
“Do you?” I ask.
“Well,” she says, popping the top on a cool one, “I’m not sure, but I think it’s real bad.”
Needless to say, Kat’s dissertation on “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” did not set the curve.
Padding barefoot across the carpet, Kat picks up a throw pillow and blots her armpits. Then, dropping onto the couch, she throws a sweaty leg over the arm.
“Kat,” I say, “your purse is bleeding.”
“My lipstick must have melted,” she says, glancing down at the red puddle of wax oozing onto my carpet.
“And you have two black eyes.”
“My mascara must have melted,” she says, checking the black smudge on her finger.
“And what’s with your clothes?” I frown. “Thong bikini bottoms are bigger than those shorts, and you look like you’ve been in a wet T-shirt contest.”
“You can put on enough clothes to stay warm,” Kat says matter-of-factly, “but you have to take off a lot of clothes to stay cool.”
Suddenly, Sweetie jumps up, flies across the room and flips the air off.
“One can never be too environmentally active,” Sweetie says. (Copyright 1999 P.S. Wall. Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate.)