I read once that writers should “write from experience”. I don’t know if that’s true. How would you write about vampires or outer space or 20,000 leagues under the sea? Still, I do admit that my main character and I share one trait: we both dislike cold.
If you’ve scanned my bio, you are already aware that I am a “native” Floridian. It’s not just that I adore the heat, it’s also that I detest the cold. It can serve as a source of great vexation for others. For example, my tennis partners have to put up with me skipping many early mornings when the temps drop below 60 (there are more of those than you might imagine in South Florida).
During the half-century I’ve been exposed to the elements, I could probably total up my “cold exposure” to about three months, total. In fact, it was just two years ago that I saw snow for the first time. At one of my annual trips out to my best friend and her family in North Las Vegas, we went up Mount Charleston (there’s a lodge up there). While there was no longer any snow falling, there was plenty on the ground. Here are some snow facts I found out: it’s soft, you sink in it and if you wear casual shoes, it fills up your shoes and melts. Oh, did we also not advise the Florida boy that leather jackets do not offer much protection against the cold? Yeah, so the next year, my friend buys me a winter jacket for Christmas. That’s me, always a day late and a lining short.
But I don’t want you to think that it’s only freezing cold that bothers me. Nope, I pretty much start having to choose different clothing when the temperature drops below…oh, maybe 72. Perhaps it’s because I keep my house at 78 normally. And even though carpet is tougher to clean, I prefer that over tile because tile is cold.
In a not-so-strange coincidence, everyone I know and visit likes their homes cold. It’s not so strange because so many people in Florida moved down here from somewhere up north. My friends hale from Connecticut or Michigan or New Jersey or Wisconsin or, well you already see the trend. Of course, perversely, when it’s warmest out, their homes are coldest (to “fight off” that nasty heat). So what’s a guy to do when he’s wearing shorts and a tee-shirt? Do I carry a jacket with me to their homes? Of course not. I would rather be uncomfortable than rude. It’s their home, they should not be forced to change it because I’m incapable of handling cold. I think it helps them, too, because I don’t stay as long (which can only be a good thing for them).
My last company was the most thermostat-challenged I’ve ever been associated with. Many people (not just me) would bring sweaters or jackets with them to work. Some would even buy space heaters, The ironic part about this is the company would have these annual “cost saving” programs asking employees to suggest ideas to help the company (and even get rewards). Every year, every year, many of these people would suggest (or beg) that they raise the temperature a couple degrees. Not only would this save a huge amount of money (not even counting the extra energy those space heaters used), but people would be happier. My agony ended during my last job with them, which put me in an office with both a separate thermostat and windows that opened. I am sure that one day, centuries from now, archeologists will unearth a forgotten employee, frozen in the rubble of those long abandoned buildings.
I could give you further examples of my adventures in cold, such as the girlfriend who liked it so cold in her home I actually shivered. Or perhaps the day I was on a fact-finding trip for budget software in San Fransisco, clothed only in a business-appropriate dress shirt (and slacks, of course. That would be cold, otherwise). Or the time I took a friend out on a cruise for her birthday only to have a front blow in while we were out on the water, ultimately getting me sick so fast I nearly weaved us off the road on the car ride back. I could offer you those stories, but you don’t need to be hit over the head with a frozen herring. Call me wimpy or soft or whatever, but I…don’t…like….cold! So, darn it, neither does Jeremy!
With the winter months (South Florida style) already beginning to be in the rear view mirror, my attitude and activity has improved dramatically. Why, I was even able to walk to the store to pick up some milk with only a long-sleeve flannel shirt, even though the temperature was still below 70. Although, I did get a chill when I opened the glass door on the milk case at the store, so I don’t think I’m ready to attend any Packers games without my shirt just yet.