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First off, I want to establish that I'm not soft.

I've neither mani'ed or pedi'ed. As far as I'm concerned, it is and will always be spaghetti, not pasta. And on those increasingly rare occasions when I'm compelled to sleep in the woods, I do not "glamp." Mostly because I don't really know what that is, but it kind of sounds painful.

OK, so I'm not exactly Bear Grylls here. I mean, I'm not fighting a crocodile for a left-over water buffalo head so I can feast on the tongue (yeah, saw that episode). But there are definite levels of "not-softness" and I am certainly on one of them -- the one that doesn't involve that water buffalo tongue deal.

So, and owing to the fact that I'm definitely not soft, the most recent unpleasantness at the residence formerly known as the Smith Icehouse and Generally Cool-ish Place isn't a matter of toughness as much as it is a quirk on my part. Like Indiana Jones not liking snakes or Superman being averse to Kryptonite.

Our air conditioning went out. And I've discovered I REALLY like air conditioning. Almost as much as I dislike not having air conditioning.

You would think someone who spent a least a significant portion of his childhood in the South wouldn't be nearly as attached as I am to chemically cooled air being blown through vents.

I'm pretty sure I was in high school before we lived in base quarters that actually had air conditioning. In fact, no one I knew, including my relatives, had air conditioning. So when we returned to Oklahoma for our annual funeral/vacation (circumstance and the reality of military service dictated those events had to be combined if the latter was to be taken at all), we may have been taking a break, but when it came to heat, we didn't get one.

Having actual, real-life air conditioning in your house was, during my younger years, not even an aspiration. It was just something that didn't happen. Houses didn't have air conditioning any more than phones existed without cords, televisions had more than four channels (counting PBS) and getting water from the fridge didn't involve the big pitcher Mom kept on the top shelf.

It's not that we coveted it. We didn't even believe it was possible. Doctors used to think the human body couldn't withstand flying a plane faster than the speed of sound. We were convinced having air conditioning in your house would cause you to expire from pneumonia. And you couldn't argue with science. At least back then.

You wanted your air conditioned? Put the box fan in the window, which has the duel advantage of keeping you from seeing all the strange clingy dust gathered on the back of the fan. And driving on the interstate with the windows rolled down has the dual advantage of cooling the car in a natural way and drowning out your mother's dire warnings about the largely imaginary threats posed by a truck easily two miles behind you. Particularly in light of the fact that she doesn't have a license and has never operated a motor vehicle in her life, at least from the driver's seat.

You'd think a background like that would have prepared me when whatever allows our AC to blow cold air through our house forgot the "cold" part. And you'd be wrong. Like an immigrant who never wants to return to the old country, I've left the land of no air conditioning and I never want to return.

However, if I were to recall my AC-less childhood, as I might have been inspired to do by the fact that we spent an AC-less weekend, I would have to admit that waking up on the "sleeping porch" you spent the night on to escape the house's lingering heat wasn't that awful an experience. And that you understand why people work so hard to save a good shade tree.

And that cool breeze that fights its way through air as thick as cream gravy and hits your sweaty skin after you've finished mowing the lawn is a proof of the existence of Providence.

Increasingly, even in the South, we live a hermetically sealed life where we move from air-conditioned houses to air-conditioned offices to air-conditioned restaurants and businesses and back again, the actual weather as foreign to us as the climate in Saudi Arabia.

So maybe it's OK if, at least until the repairman got us up and running, I was forced to send a little time remembering my somewhat warmer past. And connecting a little bit more with my present.

Nah, I still REALLY like air conditioning.

Commentary on 06/08/2018

Print Headline: Cooler heads prevail

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