How Do I Live Without Air?

It was a muggy Sunday morning in July 1999.  My son and I walked out of church and climbed into an oppressively hot mini-van.  “Mom,” he complained loudly.  “Let’s get going.  It’s soaking hot in here.”

I took the opportunity, as many parents do to say, “When I was a kid… we didn’t have air conditioning in our car.  We had to roll down the windows and let the hot air blow around.”

Of course this did not have the desired effect of him realizing how great he had it.  It did spark his imagination of what life might have been like in the dark ages when his mother was a kid.  He plagued me with questions on the way home.

  • Did you have pizza?
  • Did you have libraries?
  • Did you have McDonald’s?
  • Did you have farms?
  • Did you have windows on your cars?
  • Did you have cheese?
  • Did you have rocks?
  • Did you have bike helmets?
  • Did you have answering machines?

I was reminded of this anecdote on Friday when MOH texted me at work to say that our air conditioner was on the fritz.  Fortunately, we were able to get a repairman to the house immediately.  Unfortunately, he informed us that our compressor is shot and our 15 year old air conditioner needs to be replaced.  He continued on to say that a new one could be ordered for us on Monday.  Monday?!  I contemplated the hot and muggy weekend forecast and a trickle of sweat slid down my back.

MOH quickly began outlining a plan of action.  “We should be okay tonight.  We’ll sleep with the windows open and the ceiling fans will help.  Tomorrow morning isn’t supposed to be too bad, but towards noon, we’ll need to shut all the windows and pull the shades to keep the sun out.  Hopefully, the humidity won’t be awful and we can open the windows again in the evening.”    

As he continued on, I could see his lips moving, and I thought I could hear his voice, but it sounded far away, sort of like Charlie Brown’s teacher.  Tension started building in my neck.  I thought about all the things I had to do and wondered how I was going to be able to do them while I was sweating.  Anxiously, I wondered how long it would be until things might return to normal.  I was shutting down pandemic style.

“Sunday it’s only supposed to be 79 degrees,” I heard him say through my panic fog.  Seventy-nine degrees?!  That does not fall within my very narrow comfort zone – somewhere between 68 and 73 degrees with very minimal humidity.  Some people get hangry when they are hungry.  Well, I get swangry when I sweat.  I thought I saw a sliver of fear in MOH’s eyes.

I grew up with a mom who was also adverse to hot and steamy summer days.  She was raised in Sault Ste. Marie, so maybe she was used to having milder summers and cool breezes blowing off of the water.  Whatever the reason, we had a window air conditioner when everybody else I knew was still using box fans.  When I had friends over in the summer and we were allowed to briefly come inside for something, they would look around in wonder and ask, “Wow!  Why is it so cool in here?”

We weren’t a family that had luxury items, so I’m not sure how Mom was able to score so big.  Could you get an air conditioner with S&H green stamps?  Or maybe she was so swangry that my Dad knew he had to make an investment to keep us all safe. 

I’m not sure if I have her genes, or if having cool air in the summer my whole life has spoiled me.  In any case, I am temperature fragile, and something tells me it’s going to be a ‘soaking hot’ week. 

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