Thursday, June 26, 2014

Trouble in the Bedroom

My wife and I are incompatible in the bedroom.

No, its not what you are thinking, and I am offended that your mind leaped immediately and with a certain level of glee to that conclusion. What I am talking about is much more important. This story is all about noise and temperature.

Growing up, I was somewhat drawn to the gentle tunes that emanated from fans. Maybe obsessed is a fairer description. For most of my youth I could not eat a meal unless the fan that sat above the stove was whirring. Still, a half century later, I get a visceral response to the memory of that humming. Maybe the reason I tend to speak loudly is I had to half shout during dinner.

So too, nothing was more critical to my sleep during the warmer months than the sound of the large attic fan at work. The problem for my parents and my sister was that my insistence I was hot and in dire need of circulating air was not restricted by the outside temperature. There were many a night when the house itself almost shuddered as I wandered into sleep to the sounds of the fan as my parents and sister huddled in their beds under the covers to brace against the cold.

Years later, immediately before I married, I was living in my parent's residence and studying for the bar exam. Many days would find me in my pajamas, books strewn everywhere in my room, the white noise machine merrily humming day and night. My soon to be wife should have been well forewarned.

I am now deep into my fourth decade of marriage and of the many tics and turns that form the person who my wife gets into bed with each evening, this one remains as persistent as ever. And so, it causes me a great deal of comfort that the air conditioning unit in our bedroom announces its arrival with a large whoosh. In operation, it generates the most soothing of tones, like a crooner whose voice brings peace and quiet to the soul. Only, to the rest of the universe in general, and to my wife in particular, the decibel level that emanates is far too high and is accompanied by a most grating kind of banging.

She has tried home made remedies, notably sticking padding in the perceived area of the rattle. For much of the past year, that seemed to do the trick, or at least appease my wife enough that the air conditioner was allowed to live.

We have a service contract on this system, and the experts were recently brought in to work their magic. They seem to have had far less luck or success. Yesterday, as the fan cycled on and I began to fade into slumber, my wife announced that the banging noise was back in full force. The answer, she thought, was to raise the temperature so that the machine did not have to work as hard. It was an interesting concept.

Which brings me to the other issue that takes center stage in our bedroom. What temperature do you find acceptable in your house? Please repeat that, for I want my wife to hear what you just said.

My internal thermostat, and that of my wife, have not been programmed properly. What her body and mind are informing her is appropriate, leaves me just short of openly perspiring. "Take the blanket off you, if you are hot" is not to my way of thinking the correct answer to the question of what temperature the air conditioning has been set at. And her piercing inquiry in the morning, "did you get up in the middle of the night to turn the temperature down" is most often met with either an outright lie or a sheepish admission.

I can only imagine that some version of  this temperature conversation goes on in almost every household throughout the world. For those fortunate enough to have air conditioning, there is a husband arguing his cause and a wife suggesting an alternative theory. Hot or cold, I wager that many a bedroom discussion have little to do with the heat generated beneath the sheets and much to do with the heat caused by opening the windows.

As I write this piece, my wife is sleeping soundly in the next room. I have turned on the air conditioning unit next to where I sit. The morning may be cool enough that I should merely open the window and the door and allow nature to perform its magic. I know once my wife gets up, she will make that suggestion. But for now, this is my domain and my noise. I do think it is getting a little cold in here. I am starting to shiver.

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