Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Oh crikey

Apparently the newest "holier than thou" fad is eschewing air conditioning, because it is "more natural", and it's better for the environment, and it saves you money.

But mainly it allows you to look down your nose at the fools who still do use it. Or that's the tone I get.

Look, if you hate air conditioning (and I know people even here in the sticky South who do), if you don't want to use it, fine, whatever. If you feel it's more natural, fine. Just don't imply that I'm UNNATURAL because I love my A/C.

And don't tell me I'm a bad person because I choose to use it. Don't act like you're partial to some secret Gnostic revelation because you rely on open windows and a fan.

(I would never sleep with open windows and a fan. Reason #1: my neighbors are now fostering a dog that was apparently beaten by its previous owners as it whines most of the night. Reason #2: my bedroom is on the ground floor and every sound I heard, I would imagine was a rapist or burglar cutting the screen on my window to get in and do harm to me).

Don't blame me for destroying the earth. Don't (and this is another one I've heard, though not from this article) tell me I'd "lose weight" if I were subjected to sleeping in an 85 degree room at night, because I'd "eat less" because my body would be "in tune with the seasons."

I got your body being "in tune" right here, buddy.

From the article:

"“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.”

Look, Mr. Focazio, I CAN'T roll with the feckin' season, OK? I spend the summer in a dysphoric haze, hiding out in my dim house (keeping the blinds drawn reduces the amount of heat creeping in). Doing anything wipes me out. I have to work in the summer, have to be productive, so I need to have A/C

And I know, he's probably just sharing it as a point of conversation. But I've seen enough "social circles" where failure to conform in whatever way the conformity goes will get you shunned and proselytized at.

I suspect some of these folks are the same people who respond with arched brow and vaguely condescending tone when I admit to buying my veggies at the grocery store, rather than taking part in a CSA or driving many miles to the nearest farmer's market.

I suspect the folks who go without air conditioning are, by and large, people who don't have to work that hard in the summers. I'm teaching, and teaching at a rate twice as fast as the regular year. I need my sleep, and without air conditioning in the summer, I don't sleep.

And I know that for a fact: a couple years ago my AC system went out and it was a week before I could get it seen to. A week of trying to sleep with sweat running off my body and a big huge box fan blowing next to my bed, making me dream of being attacked by flocks of birds and living in a construction zone. I was miserable and dysphoric and unable to function. I honestly considered, one night, going over to my office and sacking out on the floor - because there was at least air conditioning there.

It would be great if we could all do the "Fermeture Annuelle" thing like they do in France: lock up the doors, stop working, go to the woods or the beach. (After all, Congress does it - probably a throwback to the days when Washington really was swamplike in the summer. I mean in terms of climate, not morals).

But for the vast majority of us, that is not realistic. We can't go off to the Hamptons or the Adirondacks or wherever the privileged people go.

(I do think a lot of this craziness - this making-of-odd-rules and judging people based on choices that SHOULD be seen as morally neutral - comes from the privileged group. If you're a construction worker, you're gonna welcome coming home to AC. If you're teaching summer school like me, being able to come home and sprawl out in a chair with cool air blowing on you after being on your feet for multiple hours is a very welcome thing)

I will say the later part of the article is a bit more balanced: they observe that going ac-free is not for everyone: guests tend to avoid non-air-conditioned houses, and one woman had to take her cat to the vet because it got sick from the excessive heat.

So it's not always smart to shun air conditioning. (What if people were shunning indoor plumbing...)

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do some groups of us choose to avoid modern conveniences and then try to make the rest of us feel like pikers, or slobs, or greed-heads for wanting to take advantage of stuff?


Lisa said...

All these "no a/c" people need to spend ONE SUMMER in Arkansas or Louisiana. They'd change their tune tout de suite.

Kate P said...

That guy is not a true Pennsylvanian--he's a Manhattanite-wannabe. "No a/c" people must not have allergies. I haven't been able to breathe without Claritin and a/c for the past week.

Cullen said...

I agree with Lisa ... they never spent a summer in Memphis, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia or SC. It's a little easier to deal with dry heat, but even out in Arizona, once you get to a certain temperature, hot is hot. Phoenix had 115-degree days recently. Would love this person to try and personally tell some people out there to do without AC.