My heart is pounding.
I peek around corners. Walk on tiptoe. I move stealthily, like an actress in some “C” movie.
I am just about to reach for the dial that controls the temperature in our house when I feel someone else’s presence.
My heart stops. I’ve been caught by my husband/house-sharer.
And my crime? Being in a chronic state of over-heatedness — and being married to he of the always-freezing internal thermostat, even in summer.
When my sweetie and I decided to love, honor and cherish one another, nobody mentioned thermostats — internal or external. Nobody whispered of the wars that would erupt as two sets of hands reached for the controls that would determine who would be delighted — and who would be disappointed.
I am a devout believer in air conditioning. It’s sacrosanct to me. Next to Velcro and Post-It notes, I think air conditioning is man’s greatest and highest achievement.
If I ruled the world — or even my own household — I would turn on the A.C. in April and let it run until October.
But my beloved believes in open windows. Fresh air. He sees air conditioning as an unnecessary evil.
And he reminds me often, and in tones not dulcet, that when he grew up on a farm, there was nothing but fresh air, scented by the family’s lilac bushes. It is a point of pride that his family never even had air conditioning.
No matter that our local air is thick with humidity and I am dripping in the heat.
So no, we are not at our best in the months twixt June and September. Or, truth be told, the rest of the year when the stealth thermostat wars rage on.
He schedules the winter heating system check by late August, the same month he drags out his heaviest sweaters from their brief summer storage in the back hall closet.
I insist on a complete review of our air conditioning system each February, and live in fear that there will be a system failure.
I turn on the ceiling fan in our bedroom each night. He turns it off when he thinks I’m sleeping.
So some of our most, well, “spirited” discussions have occurred on summer nights — or more accurately — on summer mornings at 4 a.m.
The car? An impossible battleground.
We try for compromise. Part of the time, he shivers. Part of the time, I simmer.
Then our hands meet at the car thermostat, but this is not — trust me — anything about romance. It is an attempt at that elusive balance that other couples seem to achieve with ease.
For me, 68 degrees is barely acceptable, but if I must, I’ll forego my first choice of 64. For him, 74 is tolerable if he’s wearing long sleeves.
The negotiating rages on. But then we remember that compromise is not our style, and that we’re both intransigent and stubborn.
On one memorable trip, we did not speak to one another through the entire state of Vermont.
And when we checked into our B&B, and found that the room, with all its chintz and ruffles, its doilies and candles, had no air conditioning, we spent the next couple of hours of a Friday night scouring a small Vermont town for a portable fan.
We found one that was so noisy that neither of us slept a wink for two nights. A great getaway, that one…
So yes, the air conditioning wars are upon us. And if history is prophecy, there will be no winner.
But somebody once suggested that arguing is what keeps marriages fresh, and that a good, vigorous one will get the adrenalin going.
Trust me, we’re going to be pumped all summer long. ••