Cool It!

July 17, 2021

Once in a while I will encounter Life’s Big Questions: would you rather be too hot or too cold? I always ace the answer (“Neither”) and move briskly on to: would you rather be too short or too tall? Eat just ice cream or just pizza for the rest of your life? Live with only one arm, or one leg? (“Tall, pizza, arm—as long it’s not my writing arm. C’mon, what else have you got?”)

But, truth be told, while I do prefer tropical to Arctic climes, in reality I’m only happy in the hot weather when there’s air conditioning close by. I’m old enough to recall the signs on the deli doors in NYC, courtesy of Kool cigarettes “Come in, it’s Kool inside (air conditioned!”) We lived on the 7th floor of a Manhattan apartment building, and long summer nights would find my sisters and me sprawled on the living room rug, fighting over which sister was hogging all the "chilled" air from the big box fan. Our early cars were air cooled by opening the windows as we hit 60 MPH, an experience much like putting your head inside a clothes dryer. My point is, I remember when A/C was not a given.

Moving South in the late 1960s, we got lots of summer sniffles from our travels (freezing store to sweltering parking lot and back again); it was in “Hot-lanta” that my addiction to freon really took hold. As an adult, I may have only enjoyed the central air life in the summers at the shore, but it was enough to convince me that life as a human stir fry was no life at all.

Steve, on the other hand,  literally NEVER feels the heat. A visit to his home office in July renders the unlucky visitor flushed, disoriented and dizzy, while hubs hunches over his computer keyboard, completely oblivious to the scalding temps.

In recent years, climate change (and I’m sorry but yes, it is a thing) has taken expected weather patterns, shaken them up and spilled them haphazardly across the landscape. Just a couple of weeks ago, a “heat dome” settled over Evan’s new home, Portland, Oregon. Oregon summers are usually quite temperate (highs no more than 80); suddenly the thermometers were soaring to 112 degrees. I panicked, picturing my son collapsing from heatstroke. It seems, however, that Ev is not quite as bothered as his mother. He weathered the weather just fine, he told me on the phone, as I sat not two feet from the “High Cool” setting on my window unit, yet still sympathy-sweating.

Summer is only a few weeks old. It’s bound to get hotter, and I am bound to find myself in an un-air conditioned setting from time to time. At those unfortunate moments, I will fall back on my Catholic upbringing and “offer it up” for the poor souls in Purgatory.

But I’d still rather figure out a way to air condition Purgatory, so that we’d ALL be comfortable.


    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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