Monday, June 26, 2017

Fresh Air

Oh, my, what a beautiful day! After spending all of Friday and Saturday literally whining about the humidity (I swear, it was nauseating - I couldn't even get Susie out to the pool), Mother Nature has blessed us with a few days of quintessentially June weather - warm sun, cool air - that makes you glad to be alive.

But during those 2 days of punishing humidity, I still played my "let's see how long we can go without air conditioning" game. You see, our house has an east-west orientation (with no side windows, as it's a rowhouse); so, by judiciously opening and shutting windows on the correct side of the house at the correct points in the day, I can usually maintain an indoor temp that is lower than the temperature outdoors. This has become an obsession of mine: I spring out of bed to make sure the proper windows are open and cooling the house before the sun gets high; I text the kids to close the deck doors by 9:30, when the morning sun starts slanting in there; I hurry home around noon to make sure the kitchen and front door windows are shut before the afternoon onslaught of solar energy against the front of the house.

Low-tech climate control
In short, I'm nuts. But this tends to work well, so long as the humidity outside isn't too high.  Or so long as I'm not actually home, since I have a rule that we aren't turning on the AC for just one kid sitting home alone in a 5-bedroom house (hey, the basement stays cool, they can sit down there, okay?).

Larry, of course, is not on board with this game. So, even if it does start getting a little too warm in the house, I won't touch the AC if his arrival is imminent, just to mess with him. He'll walk in, look at the thermostat (which might be reading 83 degrees at that point), shake his head, and say, "Don't you think it's hot in here?"

"Oh, no," I'll say. "Look! The humidity level is only 52%!" (I love our new thermostat.)

Or, on days that truly are bad, "Nah, as long as you don't move around too much. I ordered pizza for supper."

And then he shakes his head again, flips on the AC, and goes upstairs to do a head count and make sure everyone is still alive.

But last Friday - well, none of this was going to work. By the time I was prepping dinner, the humidity was unbearable, even in the house. I was on the verge of turning on the AC (because, hey, I"m not a monster) when Rachel - who was already annoyed that I was making her help in the kitchen - said, "You have to turn on the air conditioning right now! It's hot in here!"

Now, we have long called this child The Empress for a reason. When she's annoyed/irritated (which, granted, is quite often, and gee, I wonder who she gets that from?), her tone of voice ranges from cutting to imperious. There is no, "Gosh, it's hot! Can we have some AC?" uttered in a cheerful tone emanating from her mouth. Not ever. No, her delivery can best be described as landed royalty talking to a common serf.

I don't respond well to this tone, even at the best of times. Not from a child. So I said, "Actually, I think it feels fine in here," and I went on with my work, immersed now in both unbearable humidity AND a veritable miasma of indignation emanating from my royal teen. I also texted Larry a warning: "It's HOT here. But I swear we will die before I touch that AC."

He worked late.

I was tempted to stay here.

There is a saying in Yiddish: "Cut off your nose to spite your face." And that is the thought that ran through my head for the next 2 hours, in my definitely too-hot house, as I repeatedly reminded my first-world offspring that people in Africa have it much worse than they do, household-temperature-wise. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to take Brian to his place of work (he usually walks), just so I could sit in the air-conditioned car. Susie came with us. I drove slowly. "You sure are stubborn," Brian commented, as he left the car for the climate-controlled paradise where he works.

You bet, honey. And I remained stubborn until 6:45, which is when a friend picked up both girls to take them to a movie night at someone's (presumably air-conditioned) house. I swear, they practically ran to her car. And they weren't out of the parking lot before I was slamming down windows and turning on the air myself.


And then I called Larry to let him know it was safe to come home.


  1. Bwahaha! I am the AC lover in my house. I can't stand the humidity and will turn on the AC just to suck out the moisture, even if the temp is ok. My husband, on the other hand, will happily endure temperatures that leave me a sweaty puddle. In our defense, I grew up in Idaho and he spent his teen years in Florida. Our kids know better than to complain.

    1. I don't *happily* endure them. I just endure them. I hate to spend the money. Plus, if the house is air-conditioned, the kids are less likely to go out and play!

  2. lol I'm like turn on the air I'm dying! We only have one wall unit in the living room. Trevor's mattress has made its way into the living room for the summer lol

  3. I applaud your efforts, but know I am a lazy weeny when it comes to saving the ac. Just know it means I admire you more...

  4. I'm in Georgia and I don't know how people lived in the south without AC. Maybe they just didn't know any better since AC didn't exist.
    Anyway, I thought your Yiddish expression was Irish! I heard that many times growing up, and I've used it regarding people who voted a certain way to avoid having a certain woman president.

  5. I feel your pain. I was in Baltimore, MD for Friday through Monday, and the humidity was indeed like a jungle up until Monday. Every day that I was there, my brothers dragged me on a hike OUTSIDE, where I sweated buckets. It was not pleasant. And my brothers mocked me for complaining about it.

  6. Knowing me, if in your shoes, I probably would have done the same. Except, also knowing me, the air would have been on long before now because I don't do heat or humidity...never have but especially not now as I experience periodic flashes of heat.

  7. My husband does that same game with the windows (we face north/south, with 2 bathroom windows opening to the east). I try, but I'm NOT a morning person so it doesn't work out well. On the other hand, I will stubbornly sit in a hot living room after he turns off the one-and-only a/c unit because I'm not done on the computer yet. I only hurt myself, so yes, I am familiar with that Yiddish saying.

  8. AnonymousJune 29, 2017

    It's a bit like living without heat, isn't it? Trying to avoid "losing" the game, caving in to the temperatures because you didn't need to pay for free sun/shade/breeze.
    But the humidity--esp. where you live--would really be a kicker.

  9. AnonymousJuly 07, 2017

    We don't have ac other than a portable unit in the master bedroom. However we do have a rachel who has the same tone of voice! I play the window game and was just getting up to make the next round of opening/closing.