When I’m Hot, Thinking Cold Doesn’t Work!


My parents are imaginative — always have been, always will be. I think about them often, but particularly during extremes of heat or cold.

Wisconsin winters are notoriously frigid, but the thermostat at our house was never set higher than 68 degrees. If we kids complained about the cold, we were told, “Put on a sweater!”

In the summer, the air conditioner was set to… that’s a joke. We didn’t have an air conditioner. On days when the temperature climbed to 90, Mom would open the basement door and put a fan at the top of the stairs to draw up some of the cooler (85-degree) air. If we kids complained about the heat, we were told, “Think about something cold!” and reminded that, just a few short months ago, we’d been complaining about it being 68 degrees. “Are you never happy?” Dad would shout.

I was remembering all this as the thermometer inched toward 96 this week and, even with my air conditioner grinding away, I was sticky and uncomfortable. No one else was home, so I was free to whine out loud, “I’m ho-ot!” and the words came back to me through the decades, “Think about something cold!”

So I tried.

My first thought was of a Popsicle. Filled with hope, I yanked open the freezer and looked inside, but there were no Popsicles, nor Fudgesicles, nor ice cream. I had eaten every frozen treat the day before because it had been hot then, too. Realizing I was now old enough to drive, I knew I could always run over to the store, but then I’d have to venture outside, where the real heat was.

I tried to think of something else cold.


No good. Same problem.

Cool shower!

Yeah, but then I’d have to get undressed and re-dressed and all that activity sounded like it would make me… well, hot.

OK, OK, what about this? Icebergs.

True, there were no icebergs in the immediate vicinity, but I tried to imagine one, and soon I was sitting on an ice floe, slowly moving through the ocean, surrounded by glacial masses of — what’s that? A polar bear? Stranded on a small sheet of ice? Is this because his habitat is shrinking? Is this because of global warming? Is the world truly getting hotter by the year?

It certainly felt like it.

So that didn’t work.

Water park. If I pretended I was at a water park, I could certainly convince myself I was cooler. I closed my eyes and imagined being at the top of the slide, at the front of the line. I was next! But the line had been really long and by now I was sunburned and cranky. And just as I was about to step into the water, somebody cut in front of me. “Hey, you!” I hollered. “Back of the line!”

Getting flipped off did nothing to alleviate my steam.

So now I was back in my living room with no Popsicle, no watermelon and no iceberg, worried sick about global warming and extremely ticked off at an imaginary kid who cut in front of me at a water park that does not exist. Humph!

Good job, Mom and Dad.