Because I am full of hot air, which could earn me a spot as a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, I have learned not to sweat the small stuff.
Instead, I save it for the big stuff, like installing air conditioners, which works me into such a sweat that I need to turn them on immediately so I won’t pop like a helium balloon and go flying out the window.
That’s why this year, like the previous 21 years we have been in our house, my wife, Sue, and I have vowed to get central air-conditioning next year.
“This is the last time I’m doing this,” I told Sue as we headed for the storage area of the garage, where I dumped the bedroom and office air conditioners after I took them out of their respective windows last year.
“You’re too old,” Sue stated.
“I am not,” I responded defensively, even though I am clearly a geezer. “I just don’t want to wrench my back like I did a few years ago and end up looking like Quasimodo. I have a hunch it will happen again.”
This was the worst year because we rearranged the storage area to make room for a new refrigerator, with the result that the two air conditioners were buried under and surrounded by so much stuff that, if it were put on a scale at a truck stop, the stuff would have outweighed the air conditioners.
And trust me, each unit weighs approximately as much as a baby grand piano, which I can’t even play.
Since we have been waiting during the quarantine for a new kitchen cabinet to be installed, the stuff included enough dishes to feed the entire population of Liechtenstein if we invited them over for dinner. For this and other reasons that made no sense, there also were coffee cups, soup bowls, a sugar bowl, three chairs, a large metal pot, toilet paper, popcorn, a stool, board games, paper towels, Christmas lights, Easter baskets, a wreath, several tote bags and a big plastic bin filled with Christmas decorations.
“You can maneuver your way around this stuff,” Sue said.
“I can’t maneuver around you,” I said as she stood in my way.
“You’re always looking for the easy way out,” Sue replied.
“There is no easy way out of this,” I noted as we cleared a path.
With each unit, I squatted, tried to get a firm grasp, gritted my teeth and, with a jerk (me), rose to my feet, one of which, I was sure, would be flattened like roadkill if I dropped the metal monstrosity.
Through the garage, the laundry room, the kitchen, the family room and the front hallway I lurched, resting at the bottom of the stairs before climbing the domestic equivalent of Mount Everest.
It was a miracle I didn’t rupture a vital organ.
I got the bedroom AC in the window, which I took the precaution to open first, but had to take it back out when Sue noticed that it was resting so precariously on the sill that it would undoubtedly wait until I was outside, directly underneath, before falling two stories onto my skull, which wouldn’t faze me but would damage the unit so badly that I’d have to buy a new one.
I repeated this process with the office AC, the installation of which required me to move a bookcase — after taking out all the books, of course — so I could plug the stupid thing in.
Both are working nicely, making the upstairs comfortable for sleeping and working, which I often do simultaneously, but this time I mean it: Next year, we’re getting central air.
“If not,” I told Sue, “I will definitely lose my cool.”
— Jerry Zezima
Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Hearst Connecticut Media Group, which includes his hometown paper, the Stamford Advocate. His column is distributed by Tribune News Service of Chicago and has run in newspapers nationwide and abroad. He is also the author of four books, Leave It to Boomer, The Empty Nest Chronicles, Grandfather Knows Best and Nini and Poppie’s Excellent Adventures, all of which are “crimes against literature.” He has won seven awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for his humorous writing.