Saturday, June 19, 2010

Its Not That Hot - Part Two

It is the early 1960’s, Saturday night about 9:00 PM; my family is gathered in the living room. Naturally, we are watching television. Have Gun Will Travel just ended and any minute we will get a close-up of James Arness’ butt. For some reason, Gunsmoke, my dad’s favorite show, always started with Marshall Dillon’s ass filling the screen. And every week, my mother would promptly say, “Why don’t his pants have a seam down the middle like everyone else’s?”

For years, that was only half the ritual, first there was an announcement, “The following show is brought to you in LIVING COLOR!” Immediately, my mother, my brother and I would begin chanting, “Color! Color, Daddy! Color!”

Well, I assumed his ass was in color, but this is the way it looked at my house. Look at that picture! Why don’t those pants have a seam?

The horrible situation that we were trying to shame my father into correcting was the family’s lack of a suitable television; a color TV. We were convinced that we were the last family in America still watching a black and white television.

Looking back, I have no idea why we thought we had to see that ass in color. As you can see, it really didn’t look that much different, but my family was convinced that a new color television was a necessity of life.

A similar activity is now occurring at my house, but it involves air conditioning. According to my wife, this is the last house in the in the country south of the Arctic Circle that has not ditched the rusty old swamp cooler in favor of refrigerated air conditioning. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read last week’s blog.

Now, every time my wife hears the weather report, she reminds me of our need for better air conditioning. She does not start chanting, “Air conditioning! Air conditioning!” However, she does give me what I call the Gregor Mendel Look. If you aren’t married, the Gregor Mendel Look is the angry stare a woman gives her husband while remembering that he donated half the chromosomes to their children.

I have a great reason for not wanting to make the change, actually, about 6000 reasons, that being about what it will cost. My wife has about 85 reasons why we should, that being the inside temperature.

“Honey, remember all those pioneers who settled New Mexico.” I say, “They did it without air conditioning.”

“Yes,” she answers. “All those pioneers—they’re dead. That’s what people did back before air conditioning, they just died.”

Frankly, she has a point. I have always wondered about the sanity of those early pioneers. I have this mental picture of a man driving his ox-drawn covered wagon. Day after day he sits in the seat of that wagon, facing the afternoon sun, intent on a better life somewhere in California. Suddenly, he comes to the dried red sand of western Texas. It’s as hot as a pawn shop pistol. There’s no water, no shade, no trees, and no neighbors. This is the kind of land where buzzards pack a lunch as they fly past it.

“Honey,” he yells as he climbs down from the wagon. “Let’s live here!”

I have thought about that moment more than a few times. Why didn’t his wife get down off that wagon and brain him with a frying pan? What route could this wagon have taken from the east where a sun baked desert was the best ground they had seen since crossing the Mississippi? Was this pioneer couple thinking of starting the first commercial lizard ranch?

I suspect my wife will eventually get new air conditioning; I have two good reasons to believe it. First, I’m descended from that idiotic pioneer. Secondly, my father eventually bought my mother a color television.

1 comment:

  1. Wonder what your wife will say when she hears that some people have, not one, but TWO refrigerated air conditioners! One for the upstairs and one for the downstairs.

    (I don't think I told you yet but I just bought a house last month. With two air conditioners.)