Author’s Note: I wrote this piece back during the summer shortly before The Loafer closed, going through my files last week I had forgotten about this one and wanted to share it with you this week. Despite Summer being over, I hope you’ll still find this one amusing. Thanks!
It had been a rowdy night with the boys. We were hanging in the basement of one of the group, playing Risk till the wee small hours, shotgunning cans of La Croix (Pamplemousse burns so good!). We were at the house of the one friend who has the big house in the fancy suburb all the annoying people you know want to live in. We know not why he chose to live here, but his house is massive and the basement is our domain. He even installed a rage room so when my beloved Kamchatka falls during a game of Risk, I can walk right in, put on a helmet, and punch through some drywall.
With a belly full of the fizz juice, I drove myself home, being careful and delicate to be as quiet as possible. I didn’t want to wake my wife or son up, it was a quarter to three in the morning. Walking into the basement room I noticed it felt a bit warm. As I made my way upstairs I noticed it was getting distinctively warmer. Not miserable by any means of the imagination, but not where the house is usually set in the Summer. Checking the thermostat before going to bed, it read the house was 74 degrees inside, but the A/C was on and cooling down to 72—where it normally stands.
I woke the next morning to a house in chaos and distinctly warmer than it was when I went to sleep. I walked out of the bedroom and down the hall, noticing that all the ceiling fans in every room that had one were on. Stopping by the thermostat, I noticed it now read 78 degrees. This was on a Saturday morning, meaning that if the A/C was shot, we would be in deep trouble for the week to come. My son and wife were calm, but they were clearly worried about the new sauna we had inadvertently added to our home.
One phone call and a visit from a friend who knows about this things later, the summation was that the 25-year-old condescender that sits outside the home had finally given up. It would need to be replaced, one would be ordered, and it wouldn’t be till the latter part of the following week it would arrive and could be installed. Thus came the harsh reality. A week, during summer in Tennessee, without air conditioning. My wife looked at me and I could tell from our 45 years of marriage that we were both thinking the same thing.
I went down into the basement and brought up every box and pedestal fan I could find, I walked around the house and cranked all the ceiling fans to high, then I closed all the curtains to try to keep as much heat out as possible. In many ways, it looked like a low-rent, grade school production of the stage version of The Oregon Trail. I already bet that Lemuel would succumb to dysentery before the week was out.
The first night was manageable, but by mid-day the next afternoon, the house had reached an internal temperature of 82—and that’s where it stayed for most of the week. At first, we thought we could adapt to it all well, but we soon found that was a joke. We just sat around caked in sweat and trying to find as many excuses as possible to leave the house. You wouldn’t think enduring that much heat could change a man, but I found that when I woke up on the third day of this, somehow I was wearing a dirty wife beater and saying things like “It’s big
Lemuel kept to himself mostly during all of this, and that’s fine, he’s almost at that awkward age. I went to check on him during one afternoon of what felt like an endless week, and to my shock, I found that the heat had transformed him too. Written all over the walls of his bedroom in charcoal pencil was “All work and no heat make Jack a dull boy.” Concerned, I asked for Sheila to come and see this for herself. “Welp, Lemuel is starting to Shine. Let’s keep him quarantined” was her suggestion.
Lemuel sequestered, we endured yet one more day together in the furnace. We were all starting to get a bit salty towards one another. We played a game of Scrabble to pass the time. I’m sure a psychologist would have had a field day with what the board looked like by the time we were done playing. One could distinctively see the words “Murder, famine, pestilence, woe, terror, and nightmares.”
After one final, sweltering night, the A/C repair crew showed up bright and early the next morning. The installation went surprisingly quick—under two hours. Within fifteen minutes of the A/C being switched back on, we all could feel cool air flowing through the house. Suddenly, we snapped back into our regular selves. Lemuel, no longer subject to about to turn a shine, emerged from his bedroom acting much like his regular self. Strutting out of the room in top hat and tails asking his mom “I say, Spiffy! Lovely morning for a ride into town, pip pip!”
Within a few hours, the house was back to normal. We all felt rather embarrassed that the lack of a first world luxury like air conditioning had caused us all to turn into “Lord Of The Flies: The Home Game.” That being said though, we had a priest come out and bless the new condenser with the hopes we would never have to endure this again for years to come. See you next week.