Our beach house does not have air conditioning, and it doesn’t really need it. We get a few scorchers a year, but it usually stays in the seventies during the day and gets down to the low sixties at night. We keep the windows open to capture the breeze from the ocean, so we’re mostly set.
But today was one of those exceptions days when it is hot. The type of hot that makes us shut all the windows and blast the A.C. when we’re at home. The type of hot that sends the cats to the basement to lie on the cold concrete floor in the laundry room. And the type of hot that leads me to come up with really crazy ideas.
Now, I am the queen of creating contraptions and jury-rigging things. I once fixed a hole in a roof and redirected the water out through the window using a plastic pint container that had held olives, a plastic bag, and duct tape, and I have been using a broken Macbook charger for close to a year that I have to twist and wiggle in a weird series of motions to get it to charge my computer. So when it comes to solving something like uncomfortable heat, I like to consider myself an expert.
I was in the middle of a book Cecelia gave me The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, a series of case studies of the neurologist, Oliver Sack’s, patients, and I didn’t want to put it down. So I headed up to my room with the idea that if I lay perfectly still, my internal body temperature would drop, and I would be a lot more comfortable. But after ten minutes of still feeling overheated, it became clear that this wasn’t going to cut it.
Then, I went to wash my hands in painfully cold water, thinking that it would be like jumping into a pool, just on a much smaller scale. Unfortunately, the amount of water I would waste compared to the effectiveness of this attempt would have been ridiculous, so I stopped. Standing in the bathroom with my dripping hands making puddles on the floor, I decided that it was time to bring out the big guns.
I have a small fan in my room that I rarely turn on with good reason. It’s about the size of my head, and when you switch it on, it starts shaking and makes a noise so menacing that you would think that it is either going to explode, sending lethal shards of plastic everywhere, turn into a mini jet engine and suddenly take flight, bringing the bookshelf with it and knocking me flat as it speeds into the wall, or chop my fingers off in one malice filled rotating blade slice. It also doesn’t work very well. But I figured that the heat warranted even the most ineffective fan, so I turned it on.
I tried tilting it up and down and moving it from side to side on the shelf, but the air in the room didn’t feel like it was moving. I finally sat down directly in front of it, but it just sent puffs of hot air in my face. After repeatedly muttering stupid under my breath in the tone that I usually reserve for the Tea Party, I tried propping it up on the window ledge to pull in the cooler air from outdoors, but the ledge was too narrow and it wasn’t out far enough to really capture anything and suck it inside.
So at this point I got desperate, opened up the screen, stuck out my arm holding the fan out of the window, and stood next to the ledge in the middle of its wimpy blast. And it was decidedly cooler than anything else I tried, so I grabbed my book and stayed there, standing up, holding the fan out of the window for the next half hour, switching arms when it started feeling a little too heavy.
At the time I considered myself to be very clever for coming up with this solution–I was able to read and stay somewhat cool. But it is only now, many hours later that I realize how impossibly stupid I was. We have a basement here that is full of chairs and is always cool that I could have gone and sat in. I could have found a better fan. I could have moved outside to sit in the shade. The reasonable possibilities are endless. But no. I didn’t choose any of them. Instead, I decided that my best idea would be to hold a dinky fan out of the window. At least I didn’t drop it.