Air conditioning wars are here once again

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. ••

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