Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, Undermining We Will Go

The temperature has been fluctuating in Backoads this month. Eighty degrees one day, down to 14 a few nights later. Is my intention today to discuss the weather? Of course not.

Did I ever mention that 80% of the items that leave Hick's mouth are bunk? Flapdoodle? Self-serving codswallop? Oh, you don't have to take my word for it. I suppose some who don't know me well might assume that I slightly skew my tales to show my own self in the best light, and Hick in a pitch-dark basement corner from which evil vibes and unexplainable shrieks and noxious odors emanate. Inadvertently, of course. Val would never cast aspersions on Hick's character. She's a purveyor of truth.

Our home is all-electric. No gas molecule has ever crossed our threshold, unless it bursts forth from Hick's nether regions. Electric stove, electric other appliances, electric heat. As you can imagine, our heating and cooling costs have skyrocketed exponentially over the past few years. Almost doubled. Alas, no longer can I bask in 72-degree coolness throughout the summer, nor toast in 72-degree warmth over the winter. I must roast at 75 degrees over my summer vacation, and shiver at 69 degrees through Christmas break. So I must hold a 44-oz. Diet Coke to my forehead, or drape myself with a fleece-blanket still beats paying an electric bill higher than our house payment.

Because of my recent frugality, our last electric bill was considerable less than its equivalent this time last year. I take full credit. Pardon me while I shine my unmanicured fingernails on the lapel of my big shirt. That's what happens when you're uncomfortable all the time, and crank down your thermostat even more between 6:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Sure, the house is a bit chilly at 65 degrees when we arrive home from school. But it reaches the magical 69 fairly quickly.

You might remember several weeks ago, when I found Hick reclining in his La-Z-Boy, wearing only tighty-whities, while exhaling visible breaths into the 65-degree atmosphere. If memory serves, I chastised him for not preparing a warm house for my arrival. And Hick declared that he was comfortable.

Flash forward to Friday night. As The Pony and I rushed inside, mere minutes ahead of the homebound Genius, I lamented, "The house is going to be so cold!" The sight that greeted us in the darkening garage was not one of Hick's hanging ghostly jeans, but that of Hick's car. He was home ahead of us. A condition which I needed to get to the bottom of. So intent was I on sniffing out this conspiracy that I did not notice the chill in our abode's atmosphere.

Because there wasn't a chill. A fact which I did not realize until five hours later. I accepted Hick's explanation that he had already been home 20 minutes, to prepare for the pre-bowling trip lined up for The Pony, who would miss league on Saturday for the Smartypants Tournament. But there I sat at 10:00 p.m. in my basement recliner, chatting with the bed-bound Pony. "It doesn't seem all that cold in here. I could get by without my fleece blankie. I bet that thermostat is wrong. Did you notice it when you came back? It's supposed to be on 69, you know." The Pony knew. But he had not noticed. Nor did he notice when he went upstairs for a shower. Because when I awoke from an unscheduled chair nap at 3:00 a.m., I found that thermostat set to...


That's outrageous! I immediately dumped it to 69. But the damage had been done. Ten-and-a-half hours at 72 degrees! I almost needed smelling salts. All that suffering and inconvenience, just so my money-saving plan could be sabotaged. I couldn't wait for Hick to wake up for my inquisition. At 7:00 a.m., Hick removed his breather to answer that he had been cold. So he cranked the heat to 72. Never mind that he was only there for 30 minutes before leaving for the bowling alley. Or that the house must have felt like an orchid sanctuary when he returned. The better to lounge around in tighty-whities, I presume. But here's the outrageous part. Hick's codswallop.

"Well, if you really want to save electricity, stop running that heater under your desk."

"I'm so sure that heater has made our electric bill double. I've used it all along. Off and on. To take the chill off. I don't run it every day. I don't run it continuously. I can't believe you think heating a house three extra degrees for ten hours on the coldest night of the year had less effect on the heating bill that my intermittent space heater. I don't think that furnace stopped running all night."

"Ha ha. You have no concept of what draws amps."

"Don't go making fun of me. I saved money on the electric bill, and now you've already ruined it for next month!"

"Like I said. That space heater draws a lot more amps. Worry about that instead of the furnace."

I hate it when he does that. What I wanted to do was tell him that breather he covers with Grandma's quilt every night must be sucking up electricity like a dehydrated hummingbird on the brink of starvation. But I didn't tell him to go without forced oxygen for twelve hours.

I swear. To hear Hick tell it, you would think we were actually MAKING electricity for those 10.5 hours at 72 degrees with the outside temperature at 14 bone-chilling digits. Uh huh. I imagine we were selling amps back to the electric company at that very moment, after our long night of overproduction.

But it gets worse. Genius, who, during the 99-degree summer, ran his ceiling fan with his western-exposure double-window open during the late afternoon hours, (while using his overhead light, closet light, and desk lamp during daytime), in order to "cool off" his bedroom...has taken to declaring that this house is too cold. He wrapped himself in an afghan like a hapless insect cocooned by a spider. Face included. I fear that while
Genius is left home alone this week, he will crank that thermostat and dance through the house like a tighty-whitied Tom Cruise in Risky Business. Even though it means borrowing the tighty-whities.

I think he needs to get an apartment so he can make that same amazing discovery about utility bills that he made about grocery shopping. "Living in the real world is SO expensive!"


  1. Yes, when Genius has to pay for his own heating and cooling, when you visit him, you'll have to wear a down Snuggie or a bikini--depending on the season.

  2. Tightwad over here thinks that closing off the guest room saves $$. Then he runs two electric heaters in one room! We were visiting his daughter this evening who complained her house was cold. He said, "Do like they do in England, close off the rooms until you are using them." She looked at me. I admitted he has the spare room door and register closed. She said, "England?" He smugly said, "That's right!"

    She retorted, "They also have bidets in England." He shook his head and walked away. I'm all about comfort and joy during this season of unseasonably cold weather.

  3. I learned from experience that children don't understand how the thermostat works until they ARE paying the bills.

  4. Those space heaters do eat up amps!!

  5. Sioux,
    Yes, and I'll have to bring a sack lunch, or cash for the vending machines he'll have conveniently located around his house.

    Are those bidets heated?

    And they don't understand paying the bills when they ARE paying the bills. One student was overheard to ask, in regards to a personal finance assignment, "So...when I take money out of my checking account with my debit card, do I ADD, or SUBTRACT it from my balance?

    I'll thank you to put the kibosh on that talk of the feeding habits of space heaters. Isn't it dirty-water-thirty somewhere?