Because It’s Hot

I’ve had one of those weeks that proves that being alone can be hazardous to your health.

The kids are grown, the husband is away and no one can explain to me how to change the font on my Microsoft Word back to a size that doesn’t require clown glasses. I have a magnifying glass held against the screen, and I’m typing with one hand.

Furthermore, it’s been so hot this week that after sitting in front of two fans and watching ice cubes melt at the speed of sound, I finally broke down and set out to buy an air conditioner for my bedroom window at 8 at night.

It didn’t occur to me until I got to the store that I’d have to get the air conditioner home and carry it up the stairs by myself. (Just a minor detail when you’re dying of heat stroke.)

When I got to the store, I said, “I’d like the lightest air conditioner on the floor.”

“The lightest?” the sales clerk asked.

“One that won’t feel as if I am carrying a baby elephant home.”

So, we picked up all the boxes of air conditioners, lamenting that something smaller than a new stove had to weigh as much.

“This,” I said, choosing a box, “is the one.”

It was manageable. It was heavier in the front, but I thought I could use that to my advantage when I was going up the stairs.

And I was right about that.

When I opened the box at home and glimpsed a list of the tools I’d need to install it, I sat on the floor and groaned.

No one had said anything about tools, not even the box. They must know that 5 percent of the population will turn around and walk away if they mention a screwdriver on the box.

I am proud to be part of that 5 percent.

I called my husband who was incredulous that I was talking to him from the second floor of our house with an air conditioner sitting right beside me.

But he knows me. He knows I will carry a 50-pound air conditioner across a parking lot and down the driveway and into the house and up 20 stairs if I’m determined. But show me some directions that read “You’ll need two screwdrivers and some measuring tape,” and it’s all over.

“I’m putting it in anyway.” I said. “I’m putting it in without installing it. Can’t I just plug it in and rest it on a chair?”

We had a long talk about gravity and air conditioning operation and why there was a strong possibility it could end up on top of the car in the driveway below.

“Do you have any idea how hot it is here?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “How hot is it?”

It really wasn’t the moment to be funny, and I told him that.

“Just go get an ice cream cone,” he said.

After we hung up and I was deciding on chocolate, I decided I’d try to balance the air conditioner on the window sill and close the storm window as fast as I could to secure it. What did I have to lose (besides the air conditioner)?

It wobbled for a while on its perch and it took some minor adjustment and a few swear words, but it stayed in its place as though it was afraid not to. (My husband would understand this.)

I ran to the bathroom to grab some towels, hoping it would still be there when I got back.

It most certainly was.

I pushed four towels to the sides of the window and against the screen to keep the cold air in, and the air conditioner sprang to life with a flick of the switch – no screwdrivers needed.

I thought of my father who once fixed a light in the downstairs bathroom of my childhood home. Whenever we flicked that bathroom switch thereafter, the light in the garage would come on.

I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but hey, there’s nothing a little determination can’t do-if not imperfectly.

I just wish I’d bought the heavier unit; it’s still not cool in here.

I really hope it’s not the towels. They’re doing the best they can.