‘Can’t take the heat’

Published 2:00 am Saturday, May 23, 2015

I’m not a modern maiden.

I don’t have an iPhone or an ATM card. I don’t have a dishwasher or a car with an automatic transmission. I don’t tote a $250 pocketbook or drink cappuccino.

I have always thought of myself as having been born after my time, but I’m slipping. I’m shamefully addicted to air conditioning. I can’t take the heat. I could not have been a pioneer woman.

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But, air conditioning is an expensive addiction. I’m trying to wean myself from it. I’m spending more time toeing the swing back and forth to create a little breeze. I’m drinking more water and thinking cool thoughts. I stand and watch the electric meter go round and round, a dollar a spin. Then, with a devil may care attitude, I go right inside, turn the air conditioner on full blast and stand flat-footed in front of it.

But, be ashamed. I didn’t grow up that way. And I was no sissy back then. Sure it was hot but not so hot that an oscillating fan or a rasher of watermelon didn’t take care of it.

My greatest pleasures of summer were going swimming at the city pool – and sometimes to Beck’s Mill and Pea River — and to the ice plant.

My family owned the ice plant so it was mine to savor any time I pleased. On hot, summer days, I would ride my bicycle to the ice plant, arriving sweaty hot, and jerk open the big, heavy door and enter “paradise.”

The ice room would be filled with 250-pound blocks of ice. The floor would be icy and slippery cold – great for “ice” skating and, over on one side, was the ice-crushing machine. Ice shavings always lingered from the last crushing and I could rake them out with my hand and shape an ice ball with my hands. There was no better treat in the whole world – unless Mr. Danner let me pack the ice in a cone-shaped paper cup and squeeze flavored syrup over it.

Sometimes, Daddy would give me a dime and I’d go to the dime store and buy a funny book. I’d come back and sit on a block of ice to read it. Mama let me have a towel to sit on to keep my fanny from freezing. But always before I got finished reading my funny book, my fanny would freeze or my eyeballs would get so cold, that I would have to go out and sit on the ice plant porch to warm up.

I’d be sitting out there warming up and some little bratty boy would come up with his daddy.

“You want to go in the ice room where it’s nice and cool?” I’d ask. Sometimes he would say, no, and that was because he’d been in the ice room before. Other times, he would say he did. We’d go in and I would close the door and lead him over to the big stack of blocks of ice. Then, I would run back, turn off the light and run out the door, leaving him in the total darkness of the icy cold ice room. You’ve never heard such yelling and crying. That was so much fun.

But that was a long time ago. That was back when I found pleasure in the simple things – a funny book, sitting on a block of ice, blacking out smart-aleck little boys. Now, I’m addicted to air conditioning and summer’s not even here. I think I’ll yell and cry. I don’t have an ice block to sit on. Summer’s just not much fun anymore.