In the closed and humid little world of newspapering, the sports desk is commonly called the Toy Department, and yes, they resent it terribly. (My feeling has always been: Walk into any newsroom and follow your eyes to the men dressed like overgrown toddlers. Guess where you’ll be.) However, I never thought it was entirely apt, especially when there’s a features department nearby.
What is it with the New York Times, anyway? They aren’t fit to carry the WashPost’s water in features, and every time they try something like this, they only embarrass themselves:
…As this particular summer finally heats up, even citizens who believe that climate control is a God-given right may be questioning whether (air conditioning) has become a luxury they can no longer afford.
Really? This I have to read. First note the weasel words “may be,” a trend-follower’s best friend, along with “seems” and “appears,” a way to spin a trend out of three anecdotes. Then a nod to the obvious — air conditioning is a relatively recent wrinkle in human endeavor, “the great pyramids of Egypt were built al fresco,” blah blah. Then on to the masochists:
Lisa Finkelstein, a freelance editor, stopped using the semi-functional air-conditioning and heating unit in her rented cottage in Tallahassee, Fla., two years ago, mostly for economic reasons.
(Ha ha. As one who shares Finkelstein’s job title, I’d say “mostly for” is entirely b.s. “Entirely for” is more like it. But it gets better.)
“We spent an entire summer getting to know our kids by sitting outside trying to keep our electricity bill down,” said Ms. Holmes, who estimated that the family saved $2,100 last summer; they are repeating the experience this year. “It was very therapeutic and we got closer. We also got thinner — all of our diets changed because we were eating a lot of grilled food. And by the time fall came around, with the change in the economy, we had learned to live off less. So when everyone started talking about how hard things are, we felt like we had already experienced the worst of the worst. It prepared us for the whole year.”
Weight loss! Win-win. I’m sure the kids will look back on their summers of sweaty Monopoly fondly. But there’s more:
“In our social circle, use of the air-conditioner is extremely limited,” said Martin Focazio, who lives in Upper Black Eddy, Pa., and commutes into Manhattan four days a week to his job as a digital media strategist. “It’s not like we’re health-nut crazies or a bunch of dirty hippies dancing naked around the fire. We’re all white-collar geeks living an exurban lifestyle. We just all share the philosophy of rolling with the seasons if you can.”
“In our social circle” = “smug assholes.”
For the record, I get along without a/c as much as possible, too. After all these years in the Midwest, I’ve come to enjoy our warm months. My indoor-temperature comfort zone tops out at 79-80 degrees, however, at which point I flip the switch and don’t feel bad about it for even a minute. I’ve known a few alt-lifestyles types, who try to overthink every economy, and draw squiggly lines around this one (Zen), excluding that one (drudgery), etc. The same woman who gave up her dishwasher because she likes a few minutes of peace and quiet and manual labor after meals wouldn’t dream of washing her lingerie by hand, and vice versa.
It’s all just how you choose to live, that’s all. Finally, we get to my favorite anecdote:
Kim Gorode said her cat became dehydrated from the heat the first summer she went without air-conditioning in her fourth-floor Brooklyn walk-up apartment.
“I had just moved to New York and had no money, and I thought I could get by with fans,” said Ms. Gorode, a 26-year-old who works in public relations.
But about halfway through the summer, Waldo, her orange tabby cat, began vomiting and passing out.
“The vet put him on medication and gave him a saline IV for rehydrating,” she said. The bill for $400 dwarfed the $100 she wound up paying for an air-conditioner.
When in doubt, do it for the kitties.
When my dog was younger, he’d come in from his walks and find the tile hearth, upon which he’d lay belly-down, terrier-style, with his legs sticking straight out behind him. Dog a/c. Smart dog.
Oy, another long day awaits at the end of it, i.e, a seven-hour shift editing health-care news, starting at 6 p.m. I wouldn’t do it without proper a/c on a bet, but what that means is, it’s time to step away from the keys and rest the ol’ wrists. In the meantime, chew on this:
Jon Carroll examines the Tour de France, finds it confusing. Worth reading for one nice simile: Philadelphia Eagles fans are darned Franciscan monks compared with these people. I’ve often wondered how the riders stand the close quarters, m’self.