We all know life’s a gamble. Great fortunes or terrible fates await around every corner. Maybe we get the world we deserve, but I’m not sure what sins I’ve been paying for these past two days.
I’ve lived in Birmingham, Alabama, for a year and a half. During that time, I’ve encountered copperhead snakes, wolf spiders, tiny scorpions, and once a cute kitten. I’ve been hit in the head by both a bat whose echolocation system direly required repair and a tennis ball by a friend who direly required tennis lessons. Once, I even wore LSU gear down to a Bama bar (shudder).
I’d thought I’d seen all the horrors the South had to offer, but two days ago, my air conditioning broke. In July. In Alabama.
There exist few things as all-encompassingly miserable as the heat of summer in the South. It’s a special form of torture, akin to listening to the banjo music from Deliverance for 24 hours straight. And unlike my flirtations with dry shampoo, this story doesn’t have a happy ending.
(Please excuse any misspellings. That’s just from sweaty fingers slipping on the keyboard, because IT’S 100 DEGREES IN THIS APARTMENT. THE ONLY PLACE HOTTER THAN THIS STUDIO IS THE AIR JUST OUTSIDE OF THIS APARTMENT. DANTE CAN TALK ALL HE WANTS ABOUT THE NINE LAYERS OF HELL—HE HASN’T STEPPED FOOT IN MY DOMICILE IN THE PAST TWO DAYS.)
Confused and melting like a Styrofoam plate in a microwave—I’ve learned so many lessons this week!—I opened the door to the closet housing my air conditioning unit. That’s when I learned the true definition of irony. While the rest of my apartment was working on me like water boiling an egg, there’s a veritable winter wonderland in that closet. Covering the pipes were snowballs, literally! Giant balls of ice sucking in all the coolness of the apartment, leaving me with an acrid desert (albeit a desert containing a couch, a chair, and a record player).
How did our ancestors do this? I’m shocked the human race had the desire to keep going after a summer in the South sans AC.
Sure, it might sound like fun, sort of like camping, but during the second hour of shivering in my ice-cold shower—that’s the hour when the showerhead stops resembling a microphone, so I can’t belt out classic rock songs or, gasp, showtunes any longer—the excitement drained away. Plus, I’m still nervous the stack of magazines on my coffee table will catch fire like, well, all of California.
Much like Game of Thrones, this story doesn’t have a happy ending (yet). The apartment still feels like the Sahara, even if there’s a snowstorm in my closet. Hopefully one day soon I’ll know once again the loving embrace of AC.
You know those Corona ads where the beer puts you on the beach? I wonder if there’s a beer that does the opposite. Until we chat again, I’ll be seeking one …
Travis M. Andrews is an associate editor for Southern Living. Follow him on Twitter @travismandrews.