This is going to sound contradictory, but being without air conditioning is making me the coolest man in town.
During this sweltering season, I continue to defy conventions that say without air conditioning it’s impossible to exist.
Let me clarify: There’s air conditioning at the place where three girls let me sleep.
If I suggested we go without they’d tell me I had to leave and they would continue to live in the air conditioned place where I played a role in helping to conceive two of the three voters.
So that’s not my call.
What is my call is not having AC in my vehicle or in my office; the first an inconvenience, the second a decision.
I used to consider the small office window unit AC a summer must. I did this out of habit even as took no joy from its meager chill.
First of all, it made the office too dark and I prefer sunshine, even when it’s baking me to a crisp.
Second, it turned the place into a tiny prison cell. No air could enter. The window needed to be sealed for the AC unit to function. That meant not even a breath of air would puff around the office, even in the early mornings when the day’s still pleasant.
Lastly, I began to resent its inefficiency. It would cool down only the left side of my face, the part nearest to the blowers. The rest of me was still sticky.
I told Keith, the bartender, about it and he responded with a question: “Your chair swivels, doesn’t it?”
A problem solver, he was suggesting I spend my day twirling around in my chair like some human washing machine agitator to distribute the cool more evenly.
So I tried it. It did distribute the cool, but you have no idea how difficult it is to type even a simple sentence when your fingers are trying to re-locate the computer keys every three seconds as your hands spin over them like a monkeys on merry-go-rounds.
His suggestion meant productivity would be impossible. Plus, spending my day up here spinning ‘round and ‘round meant I wouldn’t need to spend any time in the bar getting dizzy by alcoholic means and that would deprive me of Keith’s company and I’d miss him.
So I’ve decided to go without office air. It isn’t easy, but I can work from the library or home during the oppressive afternoons.
I’ve yet to take my computer into the bar for fear that I’d write something so brilliant I’d dump the office altogether and just spend my entire day in the bar, a move that would certainly result in Val eventually tossing my stuff out onto the yard, giving Keith a whole raft of new problems to solve.
The car’s another matter. I noticed on the first hot day in May that the AC was kaput. It was something I’d need repaired, for sure.
At least that’s what I thought until the boys at the garage gave me their diagnosis.
“We can have it done by lunch,” the mechanic said. “It’s gonna cost $729.”
“Order your men to drop their tools and back away from my car,” I commanded. “I don’t want them to touch it.”
Instead, I picked up my car -- a 2007 Saturn Vue -- and drove straight to the barbershop.
Instead of spending $729, I spent $14 on a really tight haircut. The Saturn has 106,992 miles, but the windows still go up and down. A tidy haircut meant I could drive anywhere with the windows down and still appear presentable.
No matter the discomfort, I can’t afford $729 for something that just 50 years ago was considered a posh luxury, the modern equivalent of in-home car elevators like Mitt and Ann Romney enjoy.
See, that’s the thing. Air conditioning is a relatively new phenomenon. The first in-home air conditioning didn’t exist until, in fact, 1914; the first air-conditioned car didn’t tool along until the 1939 Packard.
Prior to that, our ancestors just toughed it out. If they could do it, why can’t we?
The stance is turning me into a quasi celebrity. People are asking me I’m still hanging in there. They want to know if I can make it all summer.
I think this could finally be my long-elusive niche: I’m the man too cool for AC.
You could say it’s the role for which I was destined.
That I’m a natural.
Just don’t say it’ll be no sweat.
Related . . .
Causes Chris Rodell Supports
Democratic National Committee, UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, Sierra Club, Smile Train, Salvation Army