May 27, 2007


How I Install a Window Unit Air-Conditioner

1. I avoid this for as long as possible, because it is an enormous pain in my ass. We, the people, barely need AC in Chicago, but when we need it, we really need it. Last night was that night, the night I tossed and turned in bed, too warm, and finally finding sleep by yanking all the sheets and blankets off the bed, onto the floor and flopping down in the middle of the bed spread-eagle.

2. When the weather turns chilly, the AC gets stashed in the corner of my closet. Every year when I scoot it back there, I try to do so without moving my bamboo shoe rack and every year I said, "Damnit, this fucking thing! If it was two inches shorter, I'd be fine!" before backing the heavy AC up into the bedroom and dragging the shoe rack out into the room, knocking every organized shoe over, off and otherwise into a state that will require reorganization. So, naturally, you'd assume Id remember this when it comes to bringing the AC out in the warmer months. But, I do not. Instead, I scoot the bamboo shoe rack over, yank on the AC, get it stuck in the closet doorway, say, "Damnit, this fucking thing! If it was two inches shorter, I'd be fine!" then scoot it back, yank the shoe rack out into the room, knocking every organized shoe over, off and otherwise into a state that will require reorganization. Sigh.

3. That was a lot, so I abandon the project for the moment and go make breakfast and coffee. I slip in and out of my bedroom doorway with pumpernickel bagel in hand, look at the foot and a half that I was able to scoot the AC, look at the fifteen feet that I must drag it to have the privilege of hoisting it into the window, audibly scoff, shake my head, walk back to the kitchen. At the kitchen table, I scroll through my phone address book, checking the list to try to jog my memory as to whether or not anyone owes me a favor. Then, I remember I don't keep score and, pissed off, I drink my coffee and finish my bagel and avoid leaving the kitchen table.

4. I go start a blog post, such as this one, about the air conditioner, hoping it will allow me to laugh at myself and my circumstances a bit better. It does not. Sign again.

5. Return every phone call. Pay every bill. Clean the whole house. Play "get the shoelace" with the cat. Return a few overdue emails. Notice that hoisting the AC is the only thing I really procrastinate about. Consider implications of this. Leave room. Sigh.

6. Scoot AC across the bedroom floor, thinking the entire way that I shouldn't rely on it, that the human body can and does cool itself, that this is contributing to pollution and excessive use of electricity. Then, I think of last night and decide to keep scooting.

7. Finally get pissed off enough to just lift the damn thing and feel the muscles in my lower back bitch and moan and promise to be sore for days. Then, wiggle the bricks on the windowsill around to find that perfect placement, then pull the non-staying accordion sides out while holding the AC and while shutting the window on it perfectly and failing miserably at all tasks involved.

8. Get pissed off. Go blog.

9. Finally, slam window down while holding accordion sides open with my other hand and my foot. Get cramp in toe, fall onto bed where cat watched this incredulously and full of contempt.

6. Realize that I did not save the weatherstripping shit from last year and put "buy weatherstripping" on my to do list to seal the gaps that will always exist with window ACs no matter how well they are measured and installed.

7. Push on installed AC a little to see likelihood of cat jumping on it and falling to the sidewalk below. Look at cat, say, "Look kitty, it's safe." Cat looks at me like I'm an idiot. "You'll be glad we have this in a month! Don't look at me like that!" I say to cat. Cat plops down on bed and falls asleep, not giving a rat's ass about what I just said or the effort I just put forth to keep us cool. If I was that furry, I'd show a little gratitude, for crying out loud.

8. Plug in AC and turn it on. Cloud of dust shoots from unit into my face. Ha! Joke's on you, AC! I wear glasses! No dirt in my eyes! Ha! Fuse blows, most likely because I now have an AC window unit, a cell phone charger and a lamp plugged into one not-up-to-code "vintage" outlet.

9. Run down to the basement and flip switch to get power going again. Neighbor passes by and says, "Jesus, you okay?" and I realize I still have dust in my face. Cat screeches on back porch, furious that is "circulating fountain" water dish has stopped running with the power being out. But, I just flipped the-- shit, fuse has tripped again.

10. Run upstairs, unplug everything from vintage outlet, run downstairs, flip switch again. Run upstairs, plug cell phone charge in elsewhere. Plug everything else back in. Sit, enjoy AC for a moment. Cat approaches AC, paws at control knob, knob falls to the floor and shatters. Designate flathead screwdriver for new white trash AC operating option.


Allum Barstansangur said...

"play get the shoelace with the cat"

This sentence for me brought back years of memories with my three cats, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub...

They delighted* in running through cardboard castles I built that spanned my entire apartment.

They chased long strings of plastic that I had cunningly stripped from the tops of wine bottles while all my wine-quaffing friends snorted at my philistine "opening a bottle of wine after tearing off all the plastic stuffs" method, little knowing the fun and indeed, delight of watching 1 giant fat cat(cuthbert, male, neutered) be beaten by the smallest, most nervous female cat ever(Grub, tiny but fiesty).

ah halcyon days, pardon my intrusion.


*by delighted, I mean of course yowled, scratched and generally hated their owner while trying to escape the fiendish maze he had created for them el oh el.

ALT - [f r a m e s] said...

I lived in a house without central air and, being a hot-blooded latino, needed the cold dry air that only freon can give me. So I too went on the window-unit air conditioning route, and found it hellish. What a pain. My new house has central air, but today - a nice hot muggy day - I found out that the coolant has ended. Major buzzkill, 'cos I hate dripping in sweat.

Johnny Yen said...

My ex- has a simple method for dealing with it:

1. Call ex up and ask him to put in window unit next time he is picking up son.

jewgirl said...

that is hysterical!