My Amazing Journey
I've just returned from the most amazing journey! (Suddenly I sound like Trista and Ryan and all those other people on The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Joe Millionaire, etc.) Have you ever noticed that they all use the same script? Everything is "amazing," as in "This was the most amazing date of my life!" "She/he is such an amazing girl/guy!!" "Her/his family is so amazing!!!" All summed up by, "This has been an amazing journey!!!!" And, yes, they do always speak with multiple explanation points.
But I digress. (I'm allowed, at my age). Back to my own amazing journey! Unfortunately I didn't share it with 25 handsome hunks or even average Joes. I traveled alone; but my journey was amazing, nevertheless. What made it so amazing? (If I don't go back to a strict PBS TV diet soon, I will need an emergency vocabulary transplant.) Sorry, I'm digressing again, aren't I?
Okay, I'm ready to tell you about my unusual voyage (see, I do know other words!). I zoomed from Antarctica to the tropics in just 48 hours. What's more, I didn't have to go through airport security, I didn't have to bother with luggage, and I didn't suffer jet lag. How come? Because I experienced these diverse environments in the comfort (or, rather, discomfort) of my own New England condo.
Last Sunday night, when the temperatures dipped (how come temperatures always dip and never simply fall?) below zero, my heat gave one last gasp and conked out. As the wind whistled outside, within minutes all the baseboards in every room turned to ice. (Well, not literally, but you know what I mean.) It was 11:00 PM. I could have sent for the on-call weekend emergency maintenance guy, but I hated to bother him at that hour. I'm one of those independent people who'd rather die than inconvenience anyone. Of course, I didn't realize that dying was a distinct possibility until I heard the next morning that a man in Philadelphia had succumbed to hypothermia in his sleep because he had no heat in his house. In fact, so blissfully unaware of the danger was I that I even took a sleeping pill to get me through the night, but not before I had piled every blanket and afghan I owned on my bed, plus a storm coat that guaranteed protection to temperatures of -20°F. I had bought it last year so I'd be able to walk my daily two miles throughout the winter. (Oh, the lies we tell ourselves. I abandoned that resolution at the first sign of frost, sub-zero coat notwithstanding.)
Regrettably, I don't own any warm sleepwear. I prefer a cool (but not Arctic) bedroom and lots of blankets, but I can't stand flannel PJs. I wear sleeveless cotton nightgowns all year round. Apparently I'm hot in bed. (Again, those lies we tell ourselves.) But my well-blanketed cocoon protected me. Unlike that unfortunate man in Philadelphia, I did wake up in the morning and ran from my bed to a steaming shower (thank God I still had hot water). I then donned sweat pants, a turtle neck, a heavy sweater-and my storm coat, and called my maintenance guy who scolded me for not calling him sooner. He diagnosed my problem as a broken valve and declared I'd have to call a plumber to replace it. Meanwhile, he could patch up the valve so I would have heat, but I wouldn't be able to regulate it. It would get very hot, he said. "Just open a window."
Naturally every plumber within a hundred mile radius was busy fixing pipes that had burst through the night, so I was going to have to wait until the following afternoon for service. No problem, thought I. I'd be fine. But then the heat came on full blast. I was not fine. The saying, "Too much of a good thing is wonderful" definitely does not apply to heat. Enough in winter is good. Too much is unbearable. As I gasped for breath, my phone rang. It was a friend who thought I was still in the deep freeze calling to quip, "Rose, I see Wal-Mart is having a special on blankets. Shall I go get you a couple?" "No, thanks," I said, "but I'd appreciate a bikini, if they have any." Right. Like I could wear a bikini. More self-deception.
I did strip down to my underwear, but I did not follow my maintenance man's advice to open a window. I opened all my windows. Wide. I turned on my ceiling fans. My house still felt like the tropics. So I decided to go with it. I put a calypso CD on my stereo, turned my sound machine onto "surf," poured myself a gin and tonic (but had to do without a paper umbrella), sank onto my recliner, closed my eyes, and imagined that the blades of the overhead fan were palm fronds stirring in an ocean breeze. It worked fairly well for a few minutes (actually, until I finished the gin and tonic), and then reality and near heat prostration set in. I had a miserably uncomfortable night.
My plumber is due in five hours. I'm waiting for him on my icy front steps. It feels amazing!
Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through Amazon.com and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.