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Katrina Willis "Table for Six"
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Ever since I can remember holding a pen, I remember writing. Words are my constant companion, my solace, my connection to humanity. I write because I must, but I also write to share a common experience. If one of my sentences makes you feel like you are not alone in this wide world, then I have done my job. We have so much to share as human beings, don’t we? Thank you for letting me share my words.
Hot Mess
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Hot Mess

June 13, 2013 | 02:15 PM

I always wanted to be Carolyn Ingalls. And then my air conditioning went out. In Mississippi. And now I take all that prairie life nonsense back. Every single bit of it. I don't even care if Pa plays his fiddle. I'm out.

Indiana has her share of hot, humid days. They can border on unbearable. But I've never experienced anything like Mississippi heat. The thick, chewy, edible texture of the air. Oppressive oxygen. I'm not even sure what's breathed down here in the summer is oxygen. I think it might be pudding.

So when the house started heating up earlier this week, we all took immediate notice. Chris went outside and announced that the fan on the air conditioner was kaput. We got out all the box fans, made the necessary calls, stripped down to our wardrobe essentials.

The temperature crept steadily up, and my patience and good nature plummeted. Extreme, unreasonable heat is torturous to those of us who are already hot-natured in general. The sweating. Oh, the sweating! And this heat would not be persuaded to go away. I begged and pleaded and cajoled and bribed to no avail. She just kept getting hotter... and hotter... and hotter. (She was kind of a bitch that way.) We had a 48-hour repair window, and my window of sanity turned out to be just a little bit smaller than that.

Thank goodness my kids aren't little. If this had happened when they were babies, I would have been in a full-on panic. Because they're all in various stages of puberty now, though, they smell funny, anyway. A little extra sweat wasn't going to change that. And because I'm peri-menopausal, I really didn't care about anyone but myself and my fiery, burning, spontaneous combustion-worthy face.

But my poor, furry friends. They sat at my feet, chests heaving, tongues lolled out on the sticky, damp floors. They looked at me with canine eyes that said nothing more than, "WTF, WOMAN?"

I sat at my desk trying to crank out some solid marketing copy. My full-time gig is primarily deadline-based, and I had a slew of them this week. But there was a problem.

My brain was melting.

I couldn't leave my home office because the service dude might have arrived at any moment. I couldn't think, couldn't focus. Phrases such as "return on investment" and "big data" meant even less to me than they normally did. Sweat dripped onto my keyboard as I worked. I think it might have come from my eyeballs.

At one point, Chris said, "Honey, it's hot. But it's not that hot."

(You know this isn't going to end well, right?)

And I replied, "Don't tell ME how hot I am! You don't KNOW how hot I am! Are YOU peri-menopausal? Are YOU an Olympic caliber sweater?" (Not the throw-over-your-shoulders kind, but the wet-stains-on-your-shirt kind -- just for clarification.)

I didn't really see him much over the next 24 hours. Granted, I spent many of those minutes splayed out like a giant starfish on my bed in front of a fan, begging silently for mercy and compassion and a large frozen margarita. I didn't even want wine. The mere thought of it, in fact, made me a little nauseous. That's how hot it was.

Friends said, "Come stay with us. Come jump in our pool. Come let us fan you." But there are six of us. Six. Plus two dogs. Plus a guinea pig. We're not inconspicuous. We don't travel lightly. We'd like for our Mississippi friends to remain friends once we head back to the Midwest.

And did I mention we're in the throes of packing our entire house? Because we're moving 5 states away in 16 days? And that the truck arrives on the 28th and we have to be ready to load it? Because it doubles our cost if we don't do all that nonsense ourselves and moving is the most expensive undertaking on the planet? Second only, perhaps, to sending your sextuplets to MIT at full sticker price?

I didn't want to fork over any money for a hotel, but I knew surviving one night in a 100-degree house was my limit. You know what I found out when I began making frantic phone calls? Dog-friendly hotels are only friendly if your dogs weigh less than 25 pounds. They only want little, yippy dogs to pee on their curtains and their bedspreads. The old woman dogs who do nothing but sleep and sigh and pass endless streams of squeaky gas that always seem to surprise them 23.75 hours of the day? Absolutely not. If they're mid-sized girls like mine, hotels will engage in full-on canine weight shaming and fat discrimination. ("No Milk Bones for YOU!") That was my experience with the few, at least, I was able to call before my swollen sausage fingers could no longer push one... more... button.

So, resigned to our fate, I kept waiting for the boatman, Phlegyas, to arrive with our one-way tickets across the River Styx.

When our service dude finally arrived -- when he had our beloved AC up and running again -- I brought him inside for some cold ice water. And I was so beholden to him, I even made Francisco perform. Yes, I did. I entertained that poor, sweet, sweaty man with guinea pig tricks. It was the least I could do. The absolute least. (If you'll recall, my brain had already melted.)

So deep was my gratitude, Chris had to gently remind me to not kiss that service angel full on the lips.

But I did give him the most heartfelt high-five I could muster. And don't forget the guinea pig trick offering, either.

Hug your service dudes today, friends.

They make 107-degree heat index life worth living.


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