It's too darn hot, tssssssssss

One summer it was so hot that Mom grabbed her purse and told us kids we were going to go out and buy an air conditioner. It was a Saturday, so perhaps she'd thought about it all week while working at the library, ironically kept cool by the city. We had been dependent on a large window fan at home; big, metal, blue. It was so large it had to be strapped in, and the thing rattled and whirred like a big engine. But it did manage to slightly cool off one of the rooms upstairs. That's where we all slept, including a few stray cats we'd collected, and buffy the flea-bitten chihuahua.

It must have been one too many hot nights and fleas, because there we were hopping into the orange Pinto and heading off to Sears. Mom was (and still is) a master at avoiding salesmen. They come up to start their dialogue, and she just walks away in deliberate oblivion. "Good afternoon mam, how are you doing to . . . day? Oh." She knows what she wants and doesn't need any distractions: cheap, works good, lasts long, cheap. She also usually had some sort of ad clipped out that showed a current special. "Oh, but that model ran out half and hour ago, can I interest you in something else?" No, check the back. Yes, she'll wait while you go look. We spent a lot of time waiting on storeroom floors in those days. Sometimes a display tv would be on and we could watch re-runs of Buck Rodgers or Gilligan's Island.

An hour later and there was a box shoved in between Cathy and I in the backseat of the car. Then, after another few more hours of cursing and twine, we had a window air conditioner. The sides were pleated plastic that pulled in and out like an accordion. The front was fake wood grain, with a grill blasting chemical air. It was hot at first, then slowly it changed, like summer into fall; frost churned out of the slats and spat into my face in cool happiness. I sat there all day just feeling that wonderful, cold air.

The summer continued to be a record-breaking scorcher and we all took to sleeping down in the living room, now the coolest room of the house. We rotated who got to sleep on the pull-out sofa with Mom, or on the floor (fleas), or on the love-seat (cramped and scratchy, but better than the floor).

We always feel asleep with the tv on. Monty Python or Benny Hill for some reason. Yes, I was a grade school Benny Hill addict, explains a lot probably. I'll always remember that summer, and how strange it felt to lie there in the dark and hear the sound of electric air churning all through the night while the tv buzzed and my family snored.


  1. Some of the hardest time bring the best memories don't they? The tough times bring the family closer together. I'm grateful everyday I get to talk to my mom and sisters, not everyone gets that, I'm very lucky.

  2. When I was small every summer was hot, the sun shined 24 hours a day, and whatever water I threw myself into was deliciously warm. I wonder what it was really like?

  3. What a great gift family is. I'm glad you're still close with yours!

    Everything was more exciting as a child! Even the little things like you said, jumping into a lake or such. Even something like a glass of lemonade could be monumental in a kid's day.

  4. Funny the memories that something like an air conditioner can bring back! I remember sleeping in the basement on very hot summer and I thought that was so cool.

  5. Bringing in the specifics of Sears and Benny Hill and Gilligan's Island adds a third dimensional reality to the memories that you're writing about.


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