September 2, 2008 by Judith Liebaert
My friend says that (so far) what she hates most about middle age (she barely qualifies) is watching her boobs go south. Honey, mine have gone so far south they must be in Florida because they look like two Valencia’s hanging in the bottom of a pair of tube sox. Figures my “girls” would make it to Florida for retirement before me.
The older I get, the colder I get. This doesn’t bode well for somebody living in the northern tundra of Wisconsin. Today dawned with an absolutely gorgeous autumn sunrise. I haven’t checked the thermometer, but I’d guess we’re right around 73-degrees. I know because that is my comfort zone. I can tolerate much higher temps. In fact, you didn’t hear me complaining the two previous summers when global warming spiked our July and August index to the high nineties. But 73 or 74-degrees is just right for me.
I work in a Victorian House Museum with no air conditioning. Well, that’s not exactly true. My office is on the third floor. We all know heat rises, especially in those old homes, so mine is the only office graced with a window air conditioner. Most days I don’t even turn it on until one of my co-workers wanders up to the third floor and asks me why it’s so hot.
Now, my husband is exactly the opposite. He is his own personal furnace and is always too hot. His comfort level is about 67-degrees. Since retiring (failing health/disability), he’s talking a lot about putting air conditioning in our home. My mind flashes to the two annual trips when I’d accompany him in the 18-wheeler. For six days, I’d sit in the passenger seat wearing my sweat pants and a hoodie with a blanket wrapped around me because he had the air conditioning set to about 64. When we stopped to eat, I’d open the door to be blasted by temperatures well above 80. This is how I’m spending my vacation time? I wondered. I wanted to order my meal to go and sit on the blacktop in the parking lot to eat it – just so I could warm up.
Would that I could afford to heat my house to 73 – or even 70, when it’s 20-below zero outside. To save on winter heating bills, I set our thermostat to 67-degrees. I’m cold all winter long. Over my dead body will I be cursed to live in a house that is air conditioned down to the same frigid temperature during the measly three-months of summer that we get in this otherwise frozen zone.
Since he’s been home all summer, in the evenings we sit in our double recliner (aren’t we cute!) with the fan blowing directly on us. I have (you guessed it) a blanket wrapped around me. He is more of a night owl than I am so I retire early, leaving him and his fan-cooled space for the bedroom. In my nocturnal sanctuary, the breeze billowing the curtains away from the window is appropriately moisture laden and warm – as it should be.
“We need a ceiling fan in this room,” he grumbles when he later joins me.
He pushes the light, summer coverlet down and I tug it back up on my side, clutching the fabric beneath my chin with a death grip. I fall asleep with nightmares of the evil, propeller-like blades spinning at super-duper high speed, churning out a layer of frost to coat everything in the bedroom, including me.
I keep talking about moving south for retirement. He keeps ignoring me. I think a compromise is in order. For the worst of the winter months I think the “girls” and I should both head in the same direction – South. He can join us or not, but I hope he remembers that a day without “orange juice” is like a day without sunshine.
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