For the last three days I have sat in my office, consumed by the feeling of my make-up as it makes its way down my face, landing gently on my desk like colored raindrops. Its 33 degrees Celsius today (that’s around 96 Fahrenheit for my American friends) and there is no air conditioning - like anywhere.
Air conditioning is the devil’s instrument, or so most Germans would have you believe. With summer temperatures historically falling on the fairly reasonable side, the local population has no real need to understand the virtues of all that manufactured air has to offer. For an American who has been raised within the creature comforts of climatized air, it’s an adjustment to say the least, challenged as I am to find an ounce of relief when temperatures start moving into what I deem the hazardous zone. And while I personally celebrate the advent of the AC, I am quick to agree when European’s complain about the sub-zero nature with which America so eagerly applies it. Why oh why must every State-side establishment see the need to duplicate the feel of a deep-freeze meat locker is beyond me. Enter any restaurant, bank or God forbid department store, and one is met with such artic temperatures that the idea of passing out parkas seems more in-line with enhancing the consumer experience than the perfume samples they are eager to pawn.
So what to do when unprecedented temperatures sweep through the country and you live in a land where AC is virtually non-existent? Well for the most part you just sweat it out, as thankfully such highs seem to move out just as quickly as they come in. However the time did eventually come when I experienced my first heat wave, one so intense it appeared hell-bent on making its mark in the annals of German weather history. And although our apartment did its best to hold onto cooler internal temperatures, after cycling into week two of consistent Hitzetage (‘hot days’ – anything above 30 Celcius), I was out of my mind trying to sleep at night and began to wonder if I eventually did – would I ever wake-up? Sleep deprived and consumed by thoughts of an impending stroke, I made the suggestion we get a fan…
The Dreaded Draft
During my time in New York, the only way I was capable of sleeping at night was with a high-powered fan, using the“white noise” it produced to drown out the non-stop nonsense from the streets below and the strange sounds coming from the neighbor next door. The fact that its typical use is to generate cool air led me to the decision it would be a nice addition to our home - we needed one that summer – and fast. Knowing from our time in Manhattan that V was not a fan-fanatic due to the sleep-inducing sounds (me)/noisy racket (him) they make, I knew this would not be an easy conversation. Upon introducing the topic, not only did he remind me of the assault to his eardrums but continued on with medical insight related to the draft it would surely create and the physical ailments (joint pain, stiffness) sure to follow. I thought "strange," until I recognized that he was hardly a minority voice. Following a quick google search, I found that many Germans share in his thinking (don't quote me on it but I believe I saw the term bladder infection somewhere?) and therefore take extreme care when it comes to the development of the dreaded draft. For my part, I rolled my eyes to the heavens and prayed for rain, far too weary from the weather to fight this war.
When the next wave of horrible high’s hit and my mood shifted to the darker side, V's anti-fan stance began to sway and before long I soon became the owner of a brand, new shiny fan! I can only assume that V weighed the odds, figuring that a round of antibiotics a small price to pay in the quest to keep his wife's body but more likely my temperament, on the cooler side.