I’d like to apologize in advance for any typos or formatting errors in today’s column, but it’s next to impossible to type while wearing mittens. To say it’s been cold lately is an understatement. But to say just how cold would be inappropriate for a family newspaper. Let’s just say recent temps have put the “F” in freezing.
How cold has it been in Shelton? So cold that the Tai Chi Guy on the Green has added fire juggling to his repertoire. So cold the frosty relationship between Mayor Lauretti and the Board of Education seems almost friendly. So cold the dogs at the dog park are getting stuck to the trees. So cold the Shelton Police don’t have to yell “freeze” at fleeing suspects. So cold the kids at Sunnyside School are suing for false advertising. So cold the staff at Liquid Lunch have been handing out ice picks instead of spoons. And so cold, Jim the Ice Cream Man has been sleeping in his freezer just to keep warm!
In my own home, it’s been a constant struggle between being comfortable and remaining solvent. At $600 a delivery for oil, setting the thermostat at anything above 62 seems like financial suicide. But anything below that and my wife may kill me — assuming a knife can penetrate the eight layers of clothing I’m wearing.
The weekdays aren’t so bad, as we’re at work and the kids are at school, all of us enjoying lots of “free” heat. But Saturdays and Sundays are a different story. We play a twisted game of Follow the Leader, with my wife and daughter raising the heat every time they walk by a thermostat, and me lowering it a few minutes later. Our three year old must be part penguin, as he never complains, and spends the coldest parts of the morning walking around barefoot.
It’s strange how a few months from now, a 62-degree day will have us outside in t-shirts, smiling up at the spring sun. But when it’s the same temperate inside, we sit shivering on the couch bundled in blankets. I don’t get it.
But I do get the bill, which is why I’m so vigilant with the heat. My wife and I split our monthly financial responsibilities: She pays the mortgage and I cover daycare and utilities, so technically it’s “my” hard-earned money going out “her” drafty window, which gives me the right to act like the Heat Miser.
And in the summer, we have the same, but opposite, argument about the air conditioner. I try reminding them about how back in February they were complaining that 65 was “too cold,” so there’s no need to set the AC for 59. But even with my valid logic and accurate math, I’m still outnumbered two to one. Again, the three year old does not care. In the summertime he wants his socks on and insists on wearing the wool hat he refused in winter.
As for me, I’ll keep warm by thawing out the pipes in the upstairs bathroom and counting down the days until the groundhog sees his shadow. But so help me, if that little furball predicts six more weeks of winter, my son will be wearing him for a hat next summer!
Mike Wood is a life-long Shelton resident and author of the coming-of-age novel, Alchemy, available locally at Written Words, Linda’s Story Time in Monroe and nationally at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.