Guilty chills

Just installed the window air conditioner and I’m feeling guilty. Our house was built in the 20s, and has decent cross-ventilation. I shouldn’t need air conditioning. It is supremely unstylish and unromatic. When picturing myself in the middle of a Maugham story–which I do more often than I would like to admit–I keep thinking a Singapore sling, a slow-turning ceiling fan, and a crisp linen suit should be all that is needed. It ruins the illusion when the air conditioning starts blowing.

Unfortunately, when it gets hot, I feel like a stunned lizard. I can’t think and can’t move. This was always a problem, and now that I have achieved, shall we say, some measure of corpulence, the problem is further exacerbated. I am now a stunned chuckwalla.

And so, in the middle of last summer, we gave in, went to Wal-Mart, and bought window air conditioners for the office and bedroom. Oh, the immanity. Not only do I feel like a cad–using a steady flow of coal-fired electricity to make my side of the wall 10 degrees cooler than the other side–but I am cut off from the rest of the house, and the doleful looks of my canine compadre. But, as my pal Somerset once said: “It is not true that suffering ennobles the character; happiness does that sometimes, but suffering, for the most part, makes men petty and vindictive.”

Perhaps what I need to do is go underground. I mean literally, live underground; where the temperature is a constant 57 degrees Fahrenheit. If I won the lottery today, I’d go and buy an old missile silo and turn it into the coolest school around. (Er, both literally and figuratively, this time around.)

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