As a trained husband, skilled in distinguishing between important sounds and mere noise, I can sleep through nearly anything. Babies crying, car alarms, end of days. These are just white noise to the ears of a professional sleeper. One sound did present itself in an obnoxious enough way (no, it wasn’t my own voice, surprisingly) to get my attention and turn me once again into “Dad: Destroyer of Household Goods.” The noise has been emanating from our Air Conditioning unit, which sits somewhere beneath the bedroom window. No amount of Don Draper-style parenting (“Stop that! Go to sleep!”) worked on the a.c., so I had to take matters into my own unskilled, twitchy hands. The device was buried under generations of kudzu and jungle vegetation. Indiana Jones style, I machete-ed out back armed only with a sledgehammer, a can of WD-40 and a Fodor guide (chiamare il condizionatore riparatore?). I could have hired the neighbor kid to do the yard work but he has his own issues. Poor guy is 90 and still lives with his mother, aged 112. There are slacker problems with the Oldest Generation, I guess.
To have air conditioning, let alone central air, is a blessing I am so thankful for. Growing up, our family made do with a World War II era, 40 pound office fan, that we’d lug from room to room. Dad had fished it out of a dumpster on one his many home shopping trips. As the oldest child, I was allowed to have the fan at night. Not much of a comfort, as the thing was like sleeping next to a running tractor. I’d put Joe Satriani or Mettalica tapes on my Walkman and crank them all the way up to drown out old reliable. My sleeping skills were fully developed long before leaving home. I never yelled at the fan. It had a sweet spot that could be punched. You had to be careful. Knocking it over meant the evil bastard would eat through the floor and wind up in the basement. Have I mentioned my eternal love for noisy but consistent a.c.?