In light of road rage, billboards, road signs: an ode to central air conditioning.

June 4, 2010 § 2 Comments

Living in Texas for the past 22 years, the debate on whether or not the state should “secede” from the nation and become its own country is a common conversation.  I think I might have even talked about it with my mother at some point.  Because Texans have this better-than-thou attitude that our state is really the best state and we shouldn’t have to do everything that the rest of the nation does or Obama tells us to do because, face it, we’re better than every other state.  And I can say this, you know, with all the sarcasm in the world because I am indeed a Texan.

But after living in New England for the past five days, I have come to a very real conclusion.  Texas may think and argue and reason and puff up their chest with pride that their state is good enough to be their own country, but I am convinced that Massachusetts subconsciously thinks of themselves in the same way, just without all that cockyness.  But more than just that, they seem to exist in this time and space that isn’t relevant to the rest of the country.  I’m pretty sure someone should grab these Massachusettians by the neck and convince them that they are not only apart of the rest of the United States, but they are also apart of the 21 century.

Central Air.  You’ve heard of it, right?  Well up here it’s like a figment of reality, something only dreamed about but never instituted.  Like, in my apartment:  no central air.  Sure, we have heat, we have to pay for that.  We pay for heat and hot water, go figure, so I assumed cold water and air conditioning was included in the rental price.  It’s not.  We get cold water, but there is no air.  And whoever came up with the idea of simply opening a window obviously did not live in an air-less apartment in early June.  Cause let me tell you something, it is hot.  The odd thing is, up here I sweat buckets just walking from room to room inside, but if I go outside, there’s a nice breeze, the sun is shining but it’s absolutely cooler than my apartment.  And leaving the windows open at night and keeping the fan plugged in makes it pretty cool, almost cold.  Except for last night, when it was on the brink of storming and the humidity soaked through the window screens and ran down the small of my back.

Being from Texas, the comment that is frequently directed toward me is, “Oh, you must be used to the heat,” or “This is probably nothing compared to down there.”  And they are right.  It gets wayyy hotter in Texas.  But I don’t think people realize that down there, the heat stays outside, where it belongs, whereas the inside of buildings and schools and supermarkets are as cool as a Texas winter.  My husband was trying to explain to me that it’s really only like this for three months out of the year, so it’s not a big deal because you’re only uncomfortable for a short time.  And I keep trying to tell him that I’m from Texas, and down there, we like to be comfortable for twelve months out of the year.  There is no point in suffering if we don’t have to.  I want to tap Massachusetts on the head and say, “Wake up and welcome to the 21st century!  Don’t let your pride to get in the way of staying cool!  Even if it is only for 90 days!”  But I’m pretty sure all I’ll get is a flippant wave of the hand, squinty eyes, and a screwed up lip that says, “Eh, it’s not for very much longer.”  But whatever, I like to be comfortable.  The rest of the United States I’m sure likes to be comfortable.  Massachusetts needs to start acting like the rest of this country! Or at least like Texas…

I could continue on about how none of the roads have signs so I have no idea where I’m at or where I’m going, and if they do have signs they’re all skewed and pointing the wrong way.  It’s another New England mindset, I’m sure, the “old way of life” or that it’s like living in “simpler times.”  And that’s cool and all, I like the slowness, the quaintness of the state, but when I’m halfway into Connecticut because I turned on Park Avenue that was really Neponset Avenue because the road sign had made a 90 degree angle at some point and I haven’t lived here eighteen years to know what it looked like when they were pointing the right direction, I’m no longer feeling quaint and my southern accent and Houston road rage kicks in real bad.  I miss giant neon signs.

And how this morning when I took my husband to work, not only was I driving 7 miles over the speed limit, I was being passed by car after car, in the breakdown lane!  That’s right, these people drive on the shoulder.  And the crazy thing is, it’s totally legal.  Sure, in Texas if we miss the exit in our off-roading king ranch Ford truck we just tumble through the grass and weeds and get up on the feeder street, but never do we drive on the shoulder of the road.  It just doesn’t happen.  But apparently, Massachusetts thinks it can do what it wants, and if there is space on the road, well why not fill it up with a car?

And I could complain that at the grocery store, a can of Rotel was double the price as it is in Houston, I’m sure because up here it’s considered an import and down there we basically get it handed to us from across the border, but it was annoying.  Especially when the tortillas were hidden from me, my brand of chips was non-existent, and my choice of laundry detergent was bought out; I stood in the middle of the aisle with tears welling cause I just wanted detergent that smells like fresh rain, and instead I had to get the one that smells like clean breeze, probably because Massachusetts, like the rest of the nation I’m sure, is so tired of Texas attitude they’ve decided to ban all things Texas.

But mostly I’ve noticed that the main difference between Texas and Massachusetts is that Texas is way more vocal about anything and everything.  In Texas you can be a truck driver, a farmer, or a college professor and your opinion–you think–is the most important opinion anyone could hear.  Up here, it’s not as loud.  There are debates, there are quips, there are opinions being passes about, but all in all, people keep quiet.  You might win the argument, you might be the loudest, but in the back of all these New Englanders minds they’re sitting up all smug thinking, “Well, I’ll let them take this one, because really I am the better, the bigger man.” So at least as far as mentality, they’re right up there with Texans on being convinced on which is the better state (theirs, of course).

Now, if only there would be some air in here.


§ 2 Responses to In light of road rage, billboards, road signs: an ode to central air conditioning.

  • Jessica says:

    So at first I hated this article while I was reading, because in my mind I didn’t give you the fair understanding that you were stereotyping these two mindsets….but in the end I loved this article. I wanted to shout at you and say “no way!” and laugh and then say “ok, that is so true.” -all at the same time! Anyways I am glad to discover once again that we all have some screws loose.

  • Alyssa says:

    I loved reading this! You are a very entertaining writer.

    I can relate to much of what you’ve experienced. Though my differences are a bit more pronounced, I get just as annoyed being unable to find the brands I want (and I would KILL for some Tex-Mex). Thankfully our Italian landlord provides us with a/c (pesky Americans), but it’s nearly nowhere else to be found. I’ve still learned the art of working with the sun and breeze to figure out which windows should be opened, which should be cracked, which should have the shutters pulled closed, etc. It took a few years and you have to change them depending on the position of the sun (so multiple times a day), but I still can never get it as cool inside as it is out.

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