The first time I lived in a house with central heat and air, I was 20 years old, which is like several years ago.
Naturally, anytime I throw a fact out there like that about how hard I had it, inevitably folks trying to one-up my hardship:
"Oh yeah, when I was growing up, we had to stand in front of a window fan at our neighbor's house just to feel a draft!"
"Big deal! Our house was so hot in the summer that our mother fried eggs on our stomachs for breakfast while we slept!"
"Whoop-de-doo! Not only did we not have air-conditioners or fans, but we didn't even have oxygen to breathe until I was 15! We inhaled dirt and were grateful!"
OK, so it's not the end of the world to go three full days without air-conditioning in Georgia, even in August. Last August I spent a week in Africa about 400 miles from the equator and the closest thing they had to air-conditioning were ramshackle taxis going 150 mph with the windows rolled down.
I've been spoiled by central heat and air, I readily admit. And, a few thousand dollars later, I've got it once again. But there is a small part of me that appreciates being able to step back in time a little during that hot spell.
With a window fan pushing the somewhat cooler nighttime air over me as I tossed and turned, I was taken back to a little tin house out in the boonies where my grandmother would have never considered getting central heat and air. In fact, I doubt that old tin house could have been equipped for it.
Those days, cooling off was definitely a relative term, for we didn't get cool -- merely a little less likely to die of heat stroke. When I stayed at her house, one of the greatest feelings in the world was to lie there in bed with that box fan in the window rattling as it pushed in the night air -- and night smells.
Rain was a godsend there, not just because it was a farming community, but also because it cooled the tin roofs. The noise from the storm rains on the roof was deafening, and if it hailed it sounded like machine-gun fire. But we'd gladly suffer through any noise to feel the temperature drop from 95 to 75 after the rain. And if there was no rain, there was always the cool water in the garden hose that we drank from and played under.
At home, we did have a window unit, so when I got home from grandma's or from playing two-hand touch football next door, the first thing I'd do was to stick my face right in the vents until the sweat on my face felt like ice pellets -- or until my dad yelled, "Quit blocking the air!" And, if all else failed, my next-door-neighbors had a pool that was pretty much my second home every summer from 1979 to 1986. (The only thing better than having neighbors with a pool is not having neighbors.)
Alas, our home now isn't equipped to handing heat emergencies without central heat and air. There are no window units, and our water comes from the city, meaning it's not cold enough and costs too much to play under.
Our only means of defense against the heat was a Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker. Without it, I'm not sure we could have survived those three sweltering days.
-- Connect with Chris Johnson at Facebook.com/KudzuKidWriting or on Twitter @kudzukid88.