17. Air Conditioning: Don’t Stay Home in August without It

29 Jan

Folks back home are shocked to hear that I (along with most folks and businesses in Seattle) do not have air conditioning. The horror! The horror!

The thing is, Seattle gets unbearably hot for about two or three days a year, but in many parts of the South, the heat starts up in April and sticks around till October. (One of the reasons I love the state fair so much is that it almost always marks the transition into cooler temperatures. Hence the term “fair weather.”)

I am truly a child of the late 20th century and cannot even fathom how folks in the South could tolerate summers without air conditioning. Wearing hoop skirts and petticoats! Heck, I can’t even fathom how folks today go outside in business suits and/or pantyhose anytime after May. (A good argument for self-employment if I’ve ever heard one.)

Southern folks are not known for moving at a particularly rapid pace, but perhaps you’ve never seen them in the summer. It’s always a mad dash from the comfort of an air-conditioned car to the safety of an air-conditioned house. And by “safety” I mean safety. People die out there in the heat. Or wish they would.

One summer I was at my parents’ house when the air conditioner went on the blink. Within minutes, my mom and I were packed and headed to the family’s cabin on the Pearl River. Normally, I wouldn’t be all that enthused about spending time in the cabin, but that day we couldn’t get there quickly enough.

For the first few hours there, my mom and I lay on the bed underneath the air conditioner reveling in the glory of an icy cool breeze. I only wish I’d known at the time how precious that moment was. I’d be willing to endure any number of summers in the South if my mom were there with me. I’d love to hear her just one more time say, “It’s hotter than HELL!” (pronounced “Hey-You’ll.”)

4 Responses to “17. Air Conditioning: Don’t Stay Home in August without It”

  1. TSquared February 16, 2010 at 5:41 pm #

    I’ve been laughing so hard– and now I’ve cried, too. I love your blog.
    I love that your mom lives on in your memories, and that you share with us. Thank you.

  2. Lindig May 10, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    No a/c when I grew up in the 40s & 50s. I remember fans everywhere, dancing in the year under water hoses and sprinklers, rolling from side to side on the sheets, trying to get to sleep before it got so hot you’d have to roll again. I miss sleeping porches.

    • Kim Holloway May 12, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

      I can’t imagine living in the South without A/C. The closest I came to it was when I had to spend a week at summer camp. It was the first time I understood the concept of “too hot to sleep.”


  1. 79. Butter my butt and call me a biscuit (and other Colorful Expressions). « stuff southern people like - February 25, 2011

    […] it’s hotter than blue blazes, let’s hope you have air conditioning (“Good lord willing and the creek don’t rise”) or you’ll be sweating like a whore in […]

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