Fresh-Air Freak versus Air-conditioning Addict

In the past, humankind took their oxygen any way they could.

Whether said oxygen seared a person’s nostrils or froze his lungs solid, whether accompanied by itchy allergens or Eau de Outhouse, he inhaled without question, never considering the possibility of an alternative.

Willis Carrier – the cool guy who cooled us off

Until Willis Carrier created the air conditioner.

Now, during summer, air-conditioning addicts and fresh-air freaks vie for domination.

Air-conditioning addicts consider Carrier their patron saint. They hole up during summer as if a three-month blizzard has struck.

I value air-conditioning on steamy summer days. Carrier’s blessed invention cools us and drains wet-cotton humidity from the air.

Yet, I crack windows a smidgen. No matter how bracing the air-conditioned breezes, I must mix fresh air to create my respiratory system’s favorite elixir.

I write every morning beside open patio doors. Riding my bike, I inhale the perfume of cool forests and wild roses that compete with blacktop’s tarry smell. I drive down country roads with windows wide open, the radio blaring.

However, I am not the radical my father is. During Louisiana’s hundred-degree weather, he runs his window air conditioner, but also throws open doors and windows to sanctify its fake chilly oxygen.

My mother, on the other hand, fostered a love/hate relationship with air au naturel. During my childhood, she chased us out of the house in the hottest weather: “Fresh air is good for you!”

Why wasn’t it good for her? The dichotomy seemed so unjust. She got to remain inside with a fan — while ironing for seven and canning vast quantities of pickles and tomatoes.

Yet air-conditioning became Mom’s archenemy. Before we entered a truck stop for Sunday hamburgers, she bundled up as if facing a November blast. Regardless of where we sat, a deadly draft lurked among the little table juke boxes.

My husband’s family, though raised on “fresh country air” (their reference to hog farm aromas), prefer air-conditioning. Drive a country road with fresh air? Only when pigs fly — and take their fragrance elsewhere.

So, as often happens, we have a mixed marriage, fresh-air freak wed to air-conditioning addict. My husband views car windows as vision aids only and had the nerve to demand I quit my crack-the-window habit at night.

After a few decades, though, he gave up. “Only God can change your mind.”

Recently I was snoozing away when a sudden wet blast, like that of a garden hose, sent me flying to shut the window.

Lightning, like a camera’s flash, lit his smirk. “Maybe God’s trying to tell you something?”

I covered my head with damp pillow and bedclothes. I prayed my husband might change his stubborn attitude. That we would survive another season in the same space. …

So we can turn our mixed-marriage attention to the winter thermostat debate.

 

Which are you: fresh-air freak or air-conditioning addict?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *