Wednesday, October 27, 2010

One Degree of Separation

The Snow Birds, aka my parents, called from their new perch in Florida, ostensibly to see if our home had been obliterated by The Overhyped Wind Storm of 2010, but mostly to gloat about the temperature in The Villages--the kind of retirement hub where old people go to drink, play golf, or drink while playing golf. "It's already 80 degrees by the time we take our morning walk," they boasted.

If they had rung me up two days prior, I would have counter-attacked with a report of our glorious Indian Summer weather. But it's supposed to be 48 degrees tomorrow, which, when engaging in combat with The Villages, is akin to bringing a letter opener to a knife fight. I confessed to them that I'd already caved and turned the furnace on last week, when our fallow thermostat registered 66 degrees.

"Sixty-six? That's what we set our heat at," my dad replied. "No, it's at 67," my mom corrected. "One degree makes a big difference." No, four more degrees would make a big difference, which is where I set our heat.

Who are these people? If there weren't some compelling physical evidence to suggest otherwise, I'd swear I was adopted.

I used to think my dad was just being cheap in keeping our house a frigid 65 throughout my entire childhood, given that our electric bills used to top $300/month, a hefty sum back in the day. How do I know this? Because electric bills were all the menfolk in our neighborhood ever talked about, the way I imagine pioneers used to gather and discuss the "Indian problem." Dad went so far as to convert the house from electricity to gas, which he claimed was not only less expensive but a "warmer heat," the way people in Phoenix try to con the rest of us that 105 is a perfectly pleasant "dry heat." Me and my purple fingernails weren't buying it. Sixty-five is 65.

My mom's motives were more mysterious. She either towed the party line because a) she'd been raised by nuns, who taught her that suffering was next to godliness or b) she'd been brainwashed by my dad. Lately I've come to realize that in truth, it seems both these creatures actually consider 67 a comfortable indoor temperature. I can't believe that I share their DNA, me the girl who's never warm enough until she's too hot.

Here's my philosophy regarding indoor temperature: it should pass the outerwear test. Allow me to explain. You don't expect to wear a coat indoors, do you? That's sort of the whole point of heat, yes? So why would you set your thermostat at, for the sake of argument, 67 degrees, when that's totally light jacket weather? See my point--67 flunks the outerwear test.

The Snow Birds, I understand, apply a different standard, which is that a little frostbite won't kill you. That's why, come December, when the folks migrate back up north and we all gather at the family homestead for the holidays, I'll be packing a hat and scarf.


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