Human beings are a resilient species.
Just think about all the things we’ve survived in our time here on Earth. Everything that’s been thrown at us — war, famine, pestilence, natural disasters, Justin Bieber — we’ve always managed to come out smiling on the other side. Not every species that has walked this planet can say the same thing … except of course, for cockroaches and Betty White.
Think about out … even the big, bad dinosaurs saw their time come and go. They couldn’t even survive something minor like a meteor smacking into Earth. Granted, we haven’t had to worry about a meteor striking Earth (yet), but even if that becomes a threat to the survival of our species, I have zero doubts Bruce Willis and his renegade band of deep core drillers will be able to handle things.
I think it’s pretty safe to say human beings rule this planet because we can survive anything.
Even our air conditioning going kerplunk.
In the middle of July.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting at my kitchen table eating a healthy breakfast of leftover White Castle sliders. I considered this a special treat, because usually the words “leftover” and “White Castles” never appear in the same sentence in my house. Since my wife had purchased two dozen of them the night before — and because I’m trying to exercise a little restraint in my advancing years — I was able to enjoy having two or three of that particular delicacy the next morning.
In any event, as I was sitting eating, I noticed rivulets of sweat forming on my forehead. Granted, I eat in such a voracious manner that perspiring while trying to satiate my incredible gastronomic rapacity is nothing new, but this was different. I could feel it in the air — something was wrong.
Sure enough, when I checked my thermostat, it was 76 degrees.
I knew this was a very bad thing, as I try to keep my house at 71 degrees at all times, no matter the season. I figure the ability to keep our homes at a certain temperature is what separates us from the animals, so I had best take advantage of it. As bad as that was, however, I realized my air conditioning had only been out for a few hours, and things would get worse.
I had my buddy Fish, who specializes in such things, come out and check my air conditioning unit. He informed me that it was, in fact, dead. He also was kind enough to let me know that a new unit would cost me money. Lots and lots of money. Like, Gross Domestic Product of Laos money.
It was money we didn’t have — and wouldn’t have for a little while, until pay day rolled around. I figured we could handle it, though. The Fongs come from hearty stock. I figured we would open a few windows, turn on some fans and everything would be just fine.
I was wrong.
So very, very wrong.
As the air continued to hang stagnant in our house, the temperature only continued to rise. At one point, it got up to a balmy 89 degrees in our house.
Human beings aren’t meant to live under such conditions.
We did everything we could to keep ourselves cool during the almost-two weeks our air was out — pretty much none of which worked. I tried to keep cool by eating ice cream in large quantities — which only served to make me fatter. The extra layer of fat served as an extra layer of insulation, which warmed things up a little.
At one point, my son refused to stop giving me hugs, because I was “too sweaty.” There wasn’t much I could do about that, however, because the act of showering only made me warmer, which made me sweat even more. It got to the point where I would end up coming out of the shower sweatier than when I went in, so I just gave up on it for two weeks. (Haha. Just kidding … I usually only shower every two weeks regardless of what the temperature is in my house).
Finally — thankfully — the torture came to an end when we got paid and could afford to get our air conditioner replaced. We are now able to sleep again in our climate-controlled house.
It was a grueling experience … but we survived. Not only that, but I learned a lot about myself. Living like that can be a humbling experience, but it also allowed me to get back to nature and served as a stark reminder of what human beings are capable of when pushed to the limit.
I felt the American pioneer spirit reborn inside of me as we sat in that sweltering hotbox … eating fast food sliders and ice cream.
Reach David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong