Life without AC

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 30, 2005

Everything took a back seat to the heat this week.

NASA’s space shuttle program returned to action for the first time since the Columbia accident and I barely noticed.

The wrangling over John Robert’s nomination to the Supreme Court began and I put on my sunglasses.

London police arrested terrorists and I applied more sunscreen.

The U.S. House of Representatives served a massive helping of corporate welfare to some of the wealthiest corporations in the world in the latest version of the &uot;energy&uot; bill. My usual fit of politically motivated rage was reduced to a whimper. Then I checked Exxon’s stock price.

I actually like summer and the hot weather, but Wednesday was ridiculous. My body, confused by the extreme temperatures, responded with a troubling combination of adolescent acne and an untimely patch of gray hair. Surely God was punishing me for something, probably my earlier column about the Ten Commandments and my non-stop wisecracks.

As I crawled home Wednesday afternoon, I barely made it to the couch without being swept up in a violent Arabian sandstorm. My hallucinations continued as I peered out a window, fearing an angry pack of jihadists had tracked me down.

I stared blankly at the window air conditioning unit in my den, wondering if my landlord had sent someone to fix it. I performed a quick air conditioning dance, flipped a switch and prayed. The machine coughed and produced a series of strange and painful noises. Then it died. I may have done some questionable things in my past, but no one deserved this.

Luckily the unit in my bedroom hummed with its usual confidence, but for the first time since I moved in, it was not enough.

I considered moving my television into my bedroom, but there was no way I could muster the strength.

If only I had listened to my parents and remembered to contact the landlord about the unit.

The temptation to crawl under my bed and assume the fetal position grew, but I resisted.

I directed a few choice words in the direction of the window unit and slumped into the kitchen. The only positive thought I could muster was how I should withhold my rent until the unit was fixed.

I attacked the refrigerator and downed a gallon of my favorite sport beverage in record time. This provided little relief.

My parents called in a disguised effort to check and see if I had gotten the unit fixed. I lied, of course, and said yes. They were enjoying the considerably cooler temps of the North Carolina mountains and I couldn’t bear to hear the dreaded phrase &uot;I told you so&uot;.

My father, a native of Asheville, never properly adjusted to eastern North Carolina summers and retreats to his boyhood home whenever temperatures pass the 80-degree mark in Wilson.

I fell into a strange dream about life without air conditioning. I remembered a time when I was in elementary school and my school didn’t have air conditioning. School administrators allowed the students to leave early and I was reminded of how sweet that heat induced freedom tasted.

Rejuvenated by the thought of &uot;heat days&uot;, I strolled to my car and managed to stumble upon a pickup soccer game.

So I was wrong. Not even Wednesday’s brutal heat could kick my love of sports to the back seat.