“Argument of the Week” is a series written by Brenna Jennings. It will feature the daily domestic battles she gets into with her husband Steve. Arguments I guarantee will sound very familiar.
It’s mid-October. In my part of the world, the trees are burning colors, sweaters and tights are on point, and all the men in my neighborhood have taken vacation time to dedicate themselves 24/7 to fighting the scourge of falling leaves. Lawnmowers have been exchanged for leaf blowers, which will buzz perpetually until those are swapped for snow throwers. It’s the suburban circle of life.
Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the crisp in the air enough to deal with the fact that pumpkin-spiced enemas probably exist and that #PSL is always trending. I start making soup (which my husband Steve also enjoys as it only requires one pot) and eavesdropping on my 2nd grader’s Halloween plans—spoiler alert: eating a shitload of candy.
And did I mention it gets colder outside? That welcome autumn air is also the harbinger of our months-long struggle for control of the thermostat. Fall 2015 begins the seventeenth year of our personal climate crisis.
I work from a home office, and Steve wants the temperature set somewhere between morgue and meat locker during business hours. As a result, I know which coffee shops have the strongest Wi-Fi and are most generous with their heat, and on the drive over I max out my seat warmers and linger in the car for several minutes after I park. It’s possible I’m sterile as a result. Totally worth it.
Back at home I’m a master of layers and hot liquids, though I switched to herbal tea after I once completely refinished my desk during an hour-long conference call. I invent reasons to cook so I can stand near the hot stove. After I bake, open the oven door, hold out my shirt and let the rising heat get to second base. I own shawls and throws and cardigans, and gaze longingly at Snuggie ads.
Does this sound like madness? It’s madness. I decided it had to stop.
Heat is expensive; it’s one of those super adult things you have to spend money on which is no fun at all, like tires or that day at the zoo when your kid hated every single thing for nine straight hours. What costs Steve money costs me money too, and I appreciate that he looks after our budget. Still, he’s not the one spending his entire workday on the tundra.
One afternoon he popped home for lunch and caught me cranking the heat to 70 — just for an hour, I swear! I pled my case eloquently: HONEY I CAN’T F-F-FEEL MY F-F-FNGERS P-P-PLEASE LET ME HAVE M-M-MORE HEAT.
Steve reasoned with me as I strained to hear him over my chattering teeth, “You know how much it costs to set the heat where you like it. You’re never warm, Honey,” and then something about how I’ll be even colder when we’re forced to live on the street after spending our life savings on oil.
People say that the most important part of any relationship is trust, but I think compromise is just as critical, and that’s what we did. The heat will stay low during my work hours, but I now have a compact space heater under my desk that does a great job of warming my small office. Steve set the thermostat to kick up once we’re all home for the day, then drop back down at bedtime. It remains to be seen how that last part will affect my willingness to be naked after dark.
Is there a Heat Miser in your house? How do you get through the cold season? Do you live somewhere tropical and argue instead over air conditioning, and if so, can your home fit an additional family of three and their adorable dog? Tell us in comments.
Read more from Brenna Jennings on Suburban Snapshots.