It’s almost September, which in the South is still full-blown-hot-steamy summertime, but I’m already counting the days until I can toss off my sweaters and warm up because there’s an abuse of air-conditioning going on and I’ve spent yet another summer shivering.
This “cold war” has followed the current trend of taking a good thing and over-doing it. Southerners especially love to blow things up — both figuratively and literally. “Sports are fun, so let’s sign RoyRay up for 14 different teams and decorate our rumpus room in the colors of our favorite NFL team –oh wait, no more NFL since they don’t love America. Let’s go with the high school team colors instead.”
“I wish I was a mermaid” said every woman who ever visited Gulf Shores. So, on their way back to Cullman, Chapel Ann and Addi Beth will stop at the giant shark store to grab a bag full of mermaid shirts, picture frames, wreaths (with turquoise silk flowers to mimic the water), sun glasses, shot glasses and of course, mermaid decals for the back window of their cars (to the left of the monograms).
Body “art,” growing tomatoes, and hanging animal heads on the wall — you name it, we love to overdo it. Just stroll through a big-box store or the Catfish Festival, and you’ll see things that started out good, but were magnified to the point of horror.
This amplification of the basics is what led some to believe if “cool” is good, then “cold” is better and “frozen solid” with hints of numbness must be supreme.
Before we cooled things off down here, no one bothered us. We had all the space we wanted to spread out and relax. Destin’s beaches were pristine, and you didn’t have to wait for a table at Birmingham restaurants. Atlanta hotels didn’t require reservations and there was no such thing as monster traffic. The heat wasn’t so bad because we were bred to deal with it. The northerners skedaddled back to Michigan when temperatures poked 75 degrees, but we were from sturdy stock and didn’t notice when our legs stuck to the car seats.
My dorm room in hot-as-you-know-what Tallahassee was un-airconditioned. Since most of us had been raised in Florida, we were tough and just made a little game of fanning ourselves in the windows, (extra points for causing a wreck), but nowadays, the parents would launch wild lawsuits of abuse if their children were subjected to such inhumane conditions.
The inventor of the modern air-conditioner was Willis Carrier, who by the way, was born in New York (so there’s the conspiracy theory of the day). Carrier’s invention did away with Southern front porches, charming screen doors, humming box fans, swimming in the creek and parties with ice-cold bottles of Co-Cola. He ruined us all.
My theory is that it’s the Yankees who have wrangled control of our thermostats and cranked them low to remind them of home. Meanwhile, our Southern hands feel chewed-up by the cold in restaurants and our noses turn blue in movie theaters. Our knees knock together in church and forget about lingering in Piggly Wiggly because you’ll eventually fall over, stiff as a board on Sister Schubert’s Parker House rolls.
While the girls from back in my dorm days are dreading hot energy surges, I look forward to anything that will warm me up — like winter.
This story first appeared on AL.com HERE and in the Mobile Press-Register, Birmingham News and Huntsville Times.