Dad and I

Dad used to say, “When it gets so hot no one else can stand it, that’s just the way I like it.” Well, he would love it today. At the moment, it’s 96 degrees (with a heat index of 109). If he were still with us, he would scold everyone bemoaning the heat. I can just about hear him now. And I know exactly what he’d say. “They’re all a bunch of pansies.”

When he finally relented and had central air installed, he still preferred the “fresh” air. In fact, I don’t think he ever allowed the air conditioner to be turned on unless company came to stay. The rest of us loved when company came to stay. And, fortunately that was fairly often in the summertime.

Winter was the cross Dad bore. He hated it, hated being cold. So when summer came and everyone jacked up (down?) the AC, Dad protested. “I don’t suffer the cold all winter just to freeze in air conditioning.” Much as you may appreciate the relief AC brings during the dog days of summer, you might also wonder why the thermostat needs to be set at 46 degrees? I hear ya, Dad. It’s ridiculous. Am I the only one who wears a sweater to the grocery store in the middle of July? The only one who brings a hoodie to a restaurant, just in case? Today I set the bookstore thermostat at 80 – that’s right, 80. And no one complained. When it feels like 109 outside, 80 feels pretty darn good, like walking into a shady breeze, not stepping into an Arctic blast.

I understand grocery stores needing to keep the temperature low, what with meat and perishables for sale. But most books don’t go bad at 80, or even 109. (Although some books are bad to begin with.) That’s why I don’t set the thermostat at winter temps. Of course I’m familiar with the marketing wisdom that cold customers spend more money. But I’ve never accepted conventional wisdom. Besides, I’m not interested in marketing strategies. I’ll leave that to the suits who worship at the altar of the almighty buck. As far as I’m concerned it can stop right there, on someone else’s desk. I ain’t in this racket to get rich. If I were, I’d be a fool. I’m in it because I love books. (But that’s a topic for another article.)

Dad, if you can hear me, I want you to know, I think I become more and more like you every day. Your axioms are slowly, but surely, becoming mine. No, I don’t think I’ll ever become a good Republican like the rest of your flock. Every family needs a black sheep. And, no, I don’t think I’ll ever be the tough guy you were. I write poetry for God’s sake. But I’m not as soft as I look. Sure, I may wander lonely as a cloud, and all that stuff, but I’m no fair-weather type. (I walk to and from work, rain or shine.) And if I didn’t let the ice and sub-zero wind chills slow me down, I’m certainly not going to let some triple-digit heat index. Bring on the heat. I can take it. Call me crazy, but I even like it.

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