July 1, 2002

Beginning of the Road

by Dane Sorensen

It is hard to believe that last week some people actually loved the weather. Their blood so thin it takes ninety-something degrees to get them to remove their long johns. For us over 40 (and I am talking belt size not age) the onslaught of this heat wave was a kick in the butt to finally drag the window air conditioner out of the basement and haul it up to the bedroom or whatever room is deemed critical for survival.

In our house we have 3 General Electrics up and running. I would opt for central air, but with hot water heat, it is a little expensive to start carving up the house for venting. Not that I need it 58 degrees in my living room, I just like to see the humidity taken down to where drops of water are not dripping off the ceiling.

It is odd to think that we humans could be so diverse in our taste in comfort. Last year I was in China with temperatures like this. I was sweating more than Enron Vice Presidents while my Chinese hosts were bone dry.

To see young girls wearing their halter tops and six inch long shorts is one of summer's nicer views. To see someone wearing a jacket or more than one layer of clothing is amazing to me. Yet I understand the principle of loving heat. Just as I find my girth geared more towards 50 degrees, I understand some folks just don't feel whole until the thermometer starts to reach 85. Many who love heat do so because their joints are not happy until you can fry eggs on the sidewalk. It is no fun to have arthritis and high heat has made places like Arizona a Mecca for those who find heat is more effective than aspirin.

Some people prefer this heat simply because they are so thin they can't retain the warmth they like. More and more Americans do not ever have to worry about being too thin. The Wall St. Journal states 26% of America is now rotund. Even countries known for famine are getting fatter. Those who fight the battle of the bulge would gladly be fat donors if such a thing were possible. Unfortunately, medical science has not seen a need to develop the technology for fat transplants. Unlike every other tissue in the body, fat is an unwelcome guest.

Last Sunday I had to take two of my teens to Saint Scholastica for their science camp. Afterwards, I went to one of those giant home improvement warehouses to find a glass globe for a light fixture. I was amazed to see a lot of people just loitering outside the place. Asking within, if this retail monster was open, I was told it was after hours. I asked, "What are all these people doing here?" They were waiting for a semi trailer to show up with air conditioners. There were 59 people on a waiting list for this Emergency Shipment from Minneapolis. Management, out of humanitarian feelings, was keeping a few employees on duty to shovel the cash in their coffers when the truck arrived. It was an amazing site.

We are becoming a spoiled race. Sweat is looked upon as a social oddity. We have stopped looking for natural ways of staying cool. Gone are the days of swimming all day long. We can't bare leaving our cable TV, I guess. Sadly, we don't have all night movie houses to hide in during a heat wave. Those glory days ended in the 1930's when a nickel could keep you cool for hours….and the movies were worth watching over and over. We are left to our own devices. So we have succumbed to Westinghouse, General Electric, Carrier and Whirlpool.

What ever happened to those ingenious inventions from the 20th Century that held so much promise? Such as the cap that held two cans of pop and had built in straws. The solar powered hat fan also was a great invention. And my favorite, the multi-colored umbrella hat always kept the sun away. Alas, I think the air conditioner cartel bought the patents and left us hot and sweaty. Thus we have come to the fate where adults loiter around home improvement outlets waiting for an after hour deliverance from the heat.

For those who are toughing it out with neither central or window air conditioning, for those who do not even have an umbrella hat, you shall see deliverance. Further you shall be cool while the rest of us will be facing our Fall tradition of carrying down the air conditioner to the basement. The march of time will bring back those beloved forty degrees days which force us AC owners to do our un-install ritual. We shall sweat like some addict who is overdue for a BTU fix, while under the burden of carrying our Air Conditioners down the stairs.


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