Real Norwegians don't use central airby Peter Smith, Minnesota Public Radio
My children are Norwegian on their mother's side. As soon as the temperature hits 80 degrees, they close up the house, run to the thermostat and turn on the air conditioning.
As father, resident non-Norwegian, curmudgeon and miser, I protest. Bitterly. Don't they know how much air conditioning costs? Aren't they ashamed to be hot weather wimps?
I huff, mutter and scowl. I turn the air conditioning off, but I am outnumbered. And outsmarted. They wait until my back is turned and switch the air conditioning on again.
This time of year I live in a three bedroom Frigidaire. It may be 90 out there, but in here we're wearing sweatshirts and huddling under blankets.
The huge compressor on the north side of the house whirrs and clanks in the neighbor's direction. I would feel guilty about the noise, if the neighbors weren't running their air conditioner, whirring and clanking back at us.
It's the same with the neighbors on the other side. When the temperature hits ninety, every house on the block gets sealed up tight. Every compressor whirrs and clanks. Our tranquil, tree lined street sounds like a truck stop parking lot while we sit inside in cold, morgue-like solitude.
What happened Minnesota? When it got hot in the old days, people accepted it. They opened the windows and sweltered. At night, they hauled bedding outside and slept fitfully under the stars. With the mosquitoes. And heat lightning flashing somewhere out there over the Dakotas.
Somewhere, generations of my children's Norwegian ancestors are looking on, shaking their heads. They were some tough old coots back in their day. This new generation has gone pretty darned soft. In spite of that non-Norske father of theirs.
Those old Norskes are right. It's a pretty sad day when that old Norwegian-Minnesotan expression, "hot enough for ya?" becomes, "hot enough for air conditioning yet?"
- Morning Edition, 06/30/2009, 8:45 a.m.
Peter Smith lives in Hopkins, Minn.