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Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I’m cold.

I can’t get much further south and still live in the US. I live in South Florida, yet I’m cold. It’s 78 degrees outside, and it’s February. You’d think I’d be warm. But it’s about 70 inside, and I’m cold.

I have a small ceramic heater that is pretty much pumping out the heat all day long. Sometimes I stick my feet right up next to it until the soles of my shoes are almost gooey. I frequently wrap my hands around my neck to get them warm.

I’m cold here at work because they cannot regulate the climate control system in this building. Last year it was so cold that there were rockhopper penguins mating on the south side of the building. People complained. The HVAC guys quickly found a solution to the problem: they routed all the cold air to the north side of the building, where I sit.

Since then I have shut off the two vents that blast Arctic tornadoes through them. So nothing gets through, except the whooshing sound of the wind, bypassing the vent. Even the heat, which is on maybe two times a year, doesn’t get through. I would leave the vents open at night for heat, but I don’t know when they will run the heat and when they will run the air conditioner. They run the air conditioner here when it’s 47 degrees outside.

I don’t complain about it. It doesn’t do any good. The people on the south side of the building belong to a stronger union. Other people have complained about it, to no avail, and shut off their vents, too. Apparently no one is disturbed by the side of beef I leave hanging in the hallway. I slice off a slab each day for my lunch.

I’ve always been cold. When I worked in Virginia, I worked in a trailer, so I was even colder then. For 5 months out of the year, there was a glacier frozen to the exterior paneling that lined the outside of my office. I was literally working from an igloo. You had to either wear ice cleats or be a figure skater to navigate the treacherous ice-covered plywood deck between the groups of trailers. The Winter Olympics could have been held there. I’m a morning person and was always the first to work, and I always worried that Jeff Gallooly would be hiding, ready to spring out and break my kneecaps with a collapsible ASP baton.

I had my little space heater on in my office 24/7 during the winter. When someone else turned on their space heater, the breaker would trip. I had seniority, so my heater got precedence. I’ve had this space heater for 20 years, and it did a good job in my Virginia office, which was small. Now I have a big office that I share 3 days a week with a woman who is always hot. She wears too much perfume that constantly has me sneezing, so until she lays off with the Avon, she’ll just have to sweat. That’s my compromise. I haven’t mentioned the scent, and she hasn’t mentioned the heat. We seldom speak. It’s complicated.

I take Coumadin, which some people refer to as a blood thinner. It really doesn’t really make your blood more watery. It just makes coagulation a little more difficult. Coumadin is basically rat poison in small doses. When a rat eats Coumadin it explodes in a messy hemorrhage. Maybe Coumadin is making me cold. Maybe it’s another age-related thing. I don’t care. I just want to be warm.

I need a bigger heater. I need something that’s propane-fed. I need something that is a fire hazard, like an eternal flame. I wonder if I could get JFK’s gravesite moved from Arlington Cemetery to my office. They can keep the body; all I want is the heat. I’ve even thought of importing some very cold homeless people to my office so they can burn big 50 gallon drums of trash in my office. I’ll arrange for a ventilator fan to suck out the smoke.

I was trying to stay warm by growing out my hair. I have a reverse Mohawk hairline. Hair grows perfectly well on the back and sides, but there’s a strip of flesh that’s exposed in the dead center of my head. I was actually thinking about doing a comb-over once the back and sides grew long enough. That’s how desperate I am for warmth. But when I started looking like Dilbert’s boss, I had to take the clippers to my scalp. Now my head’s cold again. And I work at a paramilitary institution. They punish you if you wear a hat inside.

When I moved from Virginia to Florida, I sold all my nice soft, thick wooly socks that I used to order every year from LL Bean. That’s right: sold. eBay foot fetishists will pay big money for used socks, frequently more than they cost brand new. Now I wish I had them back. My desperation is so deep that I have actually Googled “Electric socks.” I found a pair for $154 for the plug-in model. Another hundred bucks for the lithium battery pack and charger. That seems a little extreme. Are they machine-washable? You think I’m taking one pair of socks to the dry cleaner every day and waiting for them to be 1-Hour Martinized? I think not.

Maybe my problem is acclimation. Because of my location, I have adapted to the heat. I love the warmth. I don’t complain anymore in the summer when it’s 96 degrees outside with 90% humidity. That just feels like home. Even in the summer, our home thermostat is set at 80, and we keep cool under ceiling fans, which are in every room. Maybe I need to go back and spend some time in Virginia, or Maine, or, God forbid, Quebec, so I can de-acclimate. I’d rather spend time in a small, sealed aquarium filled with starving piranhas. At least the water would be warm.

Canadians and other annoying northern folk come here for the winter. When I retire and get cold, where am I supposed to go? Ecuador would be nice. It’s hot there year round. But I don’t speak Spanish. I can’t even stop and get directions in Miami. I once vacationed in Seychelles, tiny little islands in the Indian Ocean just south of the Equator. They are so small they don’t even show up until the fifth zoom level on Google Maps. I’ve always wanted to go back. It’s the most amazing place on earth, with friendly English speaking inhabitants and sand smooth as corn starch. Every day I ate fish that were still swimming an hour before dinner. That would be a perfect winter retreat. The problem is cost. I entered “Flexible Dates” from Fort Lauderdale to Praslin Island, Seychelles in Travelocity. Apparently Travelocity is too embarrassed to give me a quote. When I entered it into, it came back with “Prices from: $10,524.” That’s four stops, and that’s coach. You’d think for ten grand I’d at least get a Mylar envelope of honey roasted peanuts.

So I guess I’m just stuck. Nothing to do except bitch about it, which I think is my calling in life, anyway. But if things get beyond that, I’m bringing in a case of Sterno.

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1 comment:

  1. I feel for you in your search for heat, not because I share your sensitivity but because I've seen others suffer similarly. They even have the same idea of using an eternal flame, with the advantage of actually having access to one.

    Out on Daley Plaza under Chicago's Picasso, there's an eternal flame dedicated to Kennedy, I think, or maybe veterans. During the winters the pigeons from the plaza are all circled around it, jostling for a spot to stay warm, some facing the flame and others warming their rumps. When it's really cold there are some with missing tail- and flight-feathers, burned down to stubs. I kept thinking of these poor pigeons while I was reading this entry!