Suck it Up, City Boy

At about the exact moment the thermometer reached triple digits, the AC on Sunnyside Drive went kablooey.

“Wanna go to the pet-friendly Holiday Inn?”  

I was serious.

I was.

She didn’t verbalize her response. Didn’t have to. The expression on her face communicated this... exact... sentiment:

Suck it up, city boy.

The HVAC tech came today. We need a new motor which’ll hafta be overnighted from Kansas City or Dallas or Addis Ababa. Should arrive yet this week. Meantime he jury-rigged the existing apparatus to get us through pending arrival/installation of aforementioned motor.

So while the immediate crisis has been averted and we have an effective work-around (she asked if the tech used baling wire), the culture differences remain.

She wears it proudly, her rural culture badge. And she should. She didn’t have air conditioning growing up in Crawford County, Kansas.

She calls me her “city kid husband,” and since the formative years were spent in the Land of Baloney on White Bread with Miracle Whip, I could make a compelling case that a more accurate description might be “suburb kid husband...”

...but that only bolsters her point.

I’d have made a lousy pioneer.

“You sodbusters go on ahead. I’ll stay here in St. Louis... watch for me in the fall.”

So is my wife tougher than me, because she grew up without AC on the farm? Does that make her a better person? If it’s true that a man’s home is his castle, am I a wimp because I prefer not to have moist armpits within my castle confines? Is this culture clash indicative of 21st century Kansas society?

No, no, use your own judgment and maybe.

There’s something genuine and commonsensical about a rural culture – where pride is taken in not turning on the air conditioning until you absolutely have to.

Much of it is generational. Long after I’ve dropped my MHK thermostat to 68, my father scatters about 412 fans (some oscillating, some not, all noisy) around his central-air conditioned Wichita house.

“It’s only 105 degrees," he hollers over the din. When it reaches 106, we’ll turn on the AC.”

But only for a half-hour.

My wife's folks grew up in the Great Depression and their worldview was shaped by thrift and frugality. Air conditioning was not even installed in my wife’s childhood home until she was 10 years old. And then only on the first floor.

Bless her heart, my mother-in-law still re-uses disposable plastic baggies.

To that generation, things like air conditioning will always be a luxury.

Their offspring are proud of their parents and this rural culture. I do not begrudge them their rugged individualism. It helps define them and is worthy of admiration.

We weren’t all born and raised on the farm. Some of us are small town kids, suburb kids, some of us are children of the inner city. I’m as proud of my Pleasant Valley culture as my wife is of hers on the farm.

Sometimes all it takes is a minor inconvenience like a busted air conditioner on a hot summer day to recognize it.