It’s Too Darn Hot

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 5:35 pm

When did I become such an unbelievable wimp about the temperature?

I’ve noticed over the course of the summer that my thermostat seems to be set a lot higher than it used to. Our last week in London really hammered it home for me; high eighties and 80% humidity left me absolutely soaked in perspiration. Since returning home, a couple of similar scenarios (rooting around in the rafter storage area of the office at FP, for instance) have proven conclusively that I can’t take temps notably over 75 without breaking–“shattering” might be a better term–into a full-blown deluge.

And I grew up in Hawaii?

It’s really quite strange to me. In many respects, I’m in better shape than I’ve been in a handful of years. I weigh less, I’m exercising. Why the sudden segue into hyperhydrosis? Are these hot flashes? Is this the Change of Life? Have I entered Man-O’-Pause?

Not surprisingly, this problem is more prevalent in the summer, particularly this summer. I can take Washington’s new-and-improved, Global-Warming-Friendly summers just fine; all I need is my shirt off, a chilly bottle of Gatorade or a can of Minute Maid Light, and a cool breeze coming off the water as we paddle our canoe along the coastal crenellations of Lake Washington or the Nisqually Delta. No problem. This doing shit outside fully clothed (or worse, in heavy protective clothing) in the heat, like yard work or home maintenance….Man, that’s for the birds. Go shut the windows so we can crank the AC.

*Sigh* Central air conditioning. I scoffed at the squat, begrilled condenser brooding beneath the dining-room window when we first came to look at this house. The inspector we had hired tested it out and marked it down as fully operational. “Bully for it,” I thought to myself. Never realizing what a treasured member of the family this thing would turn out to be. It’s on right now, straining valiantly to keep the house at a respectable 78 degrees Fahrenheit. I love our central AC, with a deep, abiding passion that only develops in the face of earnest and unconditional servitude. I’m certain that, one summer soon, our AC will break my heart, shutting down in the blaze of August with nary a premonitorial whimper. But for now, we’re still in our honeymoon phase.

I guess the thing that annoys me the most about this change in my tolerance for heat is how, well, typical it really seems. Margaret and I have reached the point in our professional lives where we’re making some serious bank, at least compared to where we were in the early days of our life together. We sure as hell never used to need air conditioning, even when we were roasting in that convection oven of a trailer of ours in a Pullman wheat field (okay, maybe we could have used it there–in fact, we even had it, though the wiring for the thing was so dicey as to make us not want to use it for anything more dire than a true 5-Alarm heat wave–but truth be told, we couldn’t afford to use it, so for the vast majority of the time we did without.) I still remember lying on the floor of our trailer in hundred-degree weather, directly under the ceiling fan, sweat pooling in my navel, the cats wrapped around the bases of our two toilets to cool their fuzzy bellies, waiting for the frigging sun to go down so we could begin moving around again.

But now our relative prosperity seems to have rendered me soft. Heat making you a little uncomfortable? No problem, just throw some high-priced electricity at it. I heat the house with one kind of volt-sucking machinery (computers) and cool it with another. We have a hot tub outside and central AC inside. What’s next, a Lincoln Town Car to better haul my ever-widening ass around? His N Hers golf carts? A riding mower? Christ, just what kind of pampered little princess am I?

Of course the other way to look at the situation is that there is no point in my living in substantial discomfort if I can avoid it. We don’t waste energy where we don’t appreciate, even treasure the benefits that come with the expenditure. During the winter we keep our house at 65 degrees, because it’s easy to keep warmer when it’s chilly; just throw on another layer of clothing. We use compact fluorescents, we bought a home less than two miles from Margaret’s place of work (and less than thirty feet from mine) to cut down our commute and therefore our fuel consumption. We don’t drive gas-guzzlers, we recycle, we don’t heat our house with spotted owls or baby seals….

I guess I’m having trouble deciding whether my decreasing tolerance for heat is due to a change in my body, my mindset, my tax bracket, or a combination of all three. I just can’t seem to choose which of my glaring faults to feel bad about first. Or worst.

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