After 30 years, I finally bought an air conditioner. Thirty years of torment, tossing and turning at night, perspiring and panting. Thirty years of discomfort and pain, trying to devise ways to stay cool, especially when we lived in Florida. OK, maybe I exaggerate. Truth be told, I decided the dog couldn’t live without air conditioning. I wasn’t worried about the rest of the family.
My wife and four daughters drive with the car air conditioning on year-round, so I was afraid they would abuse the privilege if I bought one for the house. I’m sure they’d have it cranked up for Christmas Eve.
Plus, I didn’t want a citation from Al Gore, accusing me of contributing to global warming, squandering fossil fuels and causing brown-outs. But I couldn’t bear to watch the dog panting any longer, so I went on Amazon and in two days an air conditioner was sitting on the front lawn.
The problem is that by the time I unpack this modern miracle of climate control and energy consumption, it will be September. And by the time I read the directions and figure out how to install it, Halloween will have arrived. And by the time I determine which buttons to push, it will be Thanksgiving.
As an expedient strategy, I plan to install it without reading the directions. Instead, I’ll rely on my keen mechanical intuition, which hasn’t failed me yet. Well, maybe once or twice, like the time I tried to repair the Internet, and we were without service for three days. Frontier got very angry with me.
I’m going to take the air conditioner out of the box, put it in the second-floor window, yell, “Look out below!” and press the “on” button.
In past years, we hid in the cellar during heat waves, or I dealt with the problem by devising various homemade cooling systems to combat the sweltering temperatures. For example, I put a high-velocity fan at the bottom of the basement stairs and pointed it toward the door.
When I turned it on, cool air from the cellar filled the dining room. It was better than anything Carrier ever created, except the air had a moldy smell that made it seem like we were living in the Roman catacombs. No big deal. To solve that problem, I placed a few air fresheners around the house and substituted one stink for another.
The heat was never this bad before in our home. The misery began after we cut down 15 trees because of Superstorm Sandy, thereby depleting our natural protection and exposing us to the blistering sun like iguanas in Death Valley.
In desperation, we installed ceiling fans. Unfortunately, I always ran them on the highest speed, which is something you should not do without the supervision of a parent, guardian or skilled technician with protective headgear. The blades broke off and flew across the bedroom, shattering perfume bottles on my wife’s nightstand and creating a toxic spill that lasted days.
For my next act, I developed a cooling system that required no fewer than four window fans, three high-velocity fans and several tornado fans, which I placed on the floor, in the windows and on the bureaus, thereby creating a steady whirlwind that circulated air from room to room. Our house sounded like the runway at LaGuardia Airport before Thanksgiving.
When we lived in St. Petersburg, Fla., I had fans at either end of the living room, blowing air in and blowing air out in order to create a 20-mph sea breeze through the house. Never underestimate the power of Yankee ingenuity … even in Florida. Another time, I put a block of ice on a cookie tray and had a fan blow air through it. That worked well, but it got a little messy as the ice melted and caused condensation on the windows. It was like living in the Amazon rainforest.
When all else failed and I got really desperate, I filled my grandson’s wading pool and put it on the deck so the dog and I could enjoy a refreshing afternoon in the water. But no matter how much I pleaded with my wife, she wouldn’t let us bring it in the bedroom.
Joe Pisani can be reached at [email protected]