I used to be much tougher; but the older I get, the more I enjoy the comfort of modern conveniences. Yep, I’m turning into an elderly wimp.
When I was a kid there was no such thing as sunscreen; or if there was, the news of it hadn’t filtered through to our little rural backwater. As a fair-skinned redhead, sunburns were inevitable unless I wanted to stay indoors all my life.
I didn’t. I was out all day long in my shorts and T-shirt, playing in haystacks and crawling through tall grass and wading in ditches; putting cool compresses on the sunburn at night and peeling the skin off a few days later until I was one big freckle that lasted until winter.
Our little farmhouse didn’t have air conditioning in the early days, and there was no escape from the muggy heat of a Manitoba summer. Even with all the windows open, the house was airless. Clothing and bedding were perpetually damp and clammy from the humidity.
Big black crickets infiltrated the house in summer. I’ll never forget the first time my brother brought one of his girlfriends home for the first time. We were sitting at the dinner table when, in a momentary lull in the conversation, there was an audible *plop*. Yep, a giant cricket had crawled out from behind the wall clock and fallen to the floor before scuttling into the safety of a nearby air vent. The memory of the look on that girl’s face still makes me snicker. (Their relationship didn’t last, oddly enough.)
These days I don’t venture outdoors without slathering on sunscreen, swaddling myself in long sleeves and long pants, and donning a hat and sunglasses.
My skin is now sensitive to some invisible critter that lives in grass and dirt, so anytime I’m working or playing outside I have to tuck my pant legs into my socks to prevent giant red welts on my legs. (This has the added bonus of making me look like a complete doofus.)
If even a single bug ventures into my house I instantly swoop down and annihilate it. (Unless it’s a spider or a ladybug, in which case I gently pick it up and put it outside unharmed. But all others get heartlessly squished.)
And a couple of years ago we had central air installed.
Here in Calgary, air conditioning is viewed with a hint of condescension (until the temperature tops +30C/86F, at which point it’s regarded with envy). We usually only get a couple of weeks of hot weather and even then the temperature rarely exceeds +15C/59F at night. Most people just open the windows when it’s cool and close them during the day. Air conditioning is for wussies.
So when I sit in my cool, comfortable living room while everybody else bakes… instead of feeling smug, I feel a bit embarrassed.
That is, until a few days ago when the air conditioner inexplicably quit. And the temperature rose one degree inside the house.
The way I rushed off to phone the service line, you’d think the fires of hell were licking at the crack of my ass. “OMG, the temperature’s gone up a degree and the air conditioner isn’t running! What will I DO?!?”
Um… take a pill, that’s what. A couple of years ago the temperature in our bedroom regularly topped +30C in the summer. It didn’t kill me.
But apparently now it will.
‘Scuse me while I totter off to my rocking chair now…
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