Ah, Summertime. The season of baseball, days at the beach, muggy nights, and backyard barbecues galore. Many people look forward to this time of year, and curse the winter with its snow and cold. For me, though, Summer means one thing and one thing above all else – the return of my arch enemy. It’s a fight to the death, and this ice cold foe is always there, ready to drain me of all life force at a moment’s notice. Who is this unholy succubus, you ask? Some call him AC, others Mr. Slim, but ultimately, no matter what guise he puts on, he’s still air conditioning, and my constant adversary, piercing my arthritic joints with his frigid spears.
I bet you’re saying to yourself right now, “but Dan, Mr. Air Conditioning is so generous and welcoming, how can you ever think he’d want to harm you?” Well, I thought the same thing, when I was young and uninitiated in the ways of the frozen. That was before the ember of hate and distrust began to smolder, a time when I was small and my dreams were large. Back then, our house had a central AC system, and we slept in the warm bosom of environmental comfort, night after night. It was a thermal utopia – not too hot, yet not too cold, and I stupidly thought it would last forever.
Of course though, as all good things do, it came to an abrupt end when we moved into the house where I now reside – a frigid summer Hell where ice crystals form on the inside of my windows and Jack Frost himself fears to tread: the window air conditioning unit.
Let me give you a rundown of what’s it’s like for someone with arthritis to sleep with a room AC unit mere feet away, with the newly married me sharing my bed with my wife, and she likes it cold.
Now, by cold, I mean that I keep a frostbite treatment kit handy in case my toes are out of the covers for too long, and when I get up in the morning I have to spend fifteen minutes or so confirmed that I am indeed still a member of the male species. In addition, because of the arthritis, I get up at least every four hours for medication, and the cold somehow seems to pierce my joints, and I have to hobble to the bathroom like The Tinman, all the while mumbling “heat,” instead of “oil.” I then use the hairdryer to bring my knee joints back to a temperature slightly above absolute zero, and prepare myself to head back into the arctic freezer that has become our bedroom. The window unit sucks the life out of me, and one day, I fear, it will complete the job and Allie will wake up next to a husbandcicle.
Of course, we argue about it, but she always wins out with logic like, “Well I’m the wife, so wear your pants to bed.” How can I argue with that? So, this is what Summer means to me, a battle with the arch demon from Sanyo, or the oppressive weight of New York humidity. I dream of a day when the central AC will come and take me away from this dungeon of cold where my eyes sometimes freeze shut, and take me to his land of perfect humidity and stable temperature, where I imagine a penguin wearing a scarf and a hat joyfully awaits.