Jerry Zezima: The air apparent

I like to think I’m hot. I like to think I’m cool, too. In reality, I am neither — unless I have to stick a big, heavy air conditioner in the bedroom window and another in the office window, in which case, if I even survive, I am both.

For the past 26 years, which is how long my wife, Sue, and I have lived in our house, we have vowed to get central air conditioning.

And every year, when the place starts to feel like a sauna and I feel like sitting around in a towel, which really gets Sue steamed, I have had to lug not one but two bulky air conditioners upstairs and install them in the corresponding windows without having a heart attack, throwing my back out or rupturing a vital organ.

Then there is the danger of dropping one of the huge metal appliances on my foot, breaking my big toe and walking around for the rest of my life with a pronounced limp, which, for those of you who have never experienced such agony because you already have central air, is pronounced “limp.”

In the past few years, I have had help from both our son-in-law and our contractor, for which I am relieved, grateful and — most important — alive.

But now that I am 70, an age at which dragging a garbage can to the curb is a health hazard, I figured it was stupid even by my low standards to still be dealing with air conditioners.

So we contacted Adam Harris, an equipment specialist for our home heating company, to come over, size up the joint and help us select a central air conditioning system at a price reasonable enough to be paid in — that’s right! — cold cash.

“Will central air offset my hot air?” I asked.

“Yes,” Adam assured me. “But the system may have to work pretty hard.”

“I hope it doesn’t overheat,” I said.

“Don’t worry, it won’t,” said Adam, who went room by room, downstairs and upstairs, to measure the square footage, look in closets and check out the attic. He also went outside to see where a condenser could be placed.

Because of the configuration of the house, a two-story Colonial, Adam said we could get central air upstairs but not downstairs, where expensive ductless units would have to be installed.

“Would we need ductless tape for the units?” I wondered.

“You’d need more than that,” said Adam, adding that the installers would have to go through floors and walls.

“I’m floored,” I remarked. “And off the wall.”

Adam, who politely didn’t disagree, said the downstairs would stay cool because we already have a large, powerful air conditioner in a wall sleeve in the family room.

“Upstairs is where you need central air,” he said, quoting us a reasonable price that we agreed to.

Unfortunately, the job couldn’t be done for a couple of weeks, when it would be getting warmer, so I decided to haul one of the two old air conditioners from the garage to our bedroom.

“I have a hunch I’ll end up like Quasimodo,” I told Sue as I breathlessly carried the unit — step by step, inch by inch — through the house and up the stairs.

I plopped it in an open bedroom window and asked Sue to hold it in place while I screwed the AC into the frame. Then I pulled out the worn and torn accordion side panels and screwed them into the frame, too. Sue stuffed the gaps with sticky strips of foam rubber so bugs the size of Chihuahuas couldn’t get in.

She plugged the unit in and turned it on.

“It still works!” Sue exclaimed.

That held us over until the day our central air conditioning system was finally installed.

“We should have done this a long time ago,” said Sue.

I agreed.

“I may not be so hot anymore,” I said. “But I’m still pretty cool.”

Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service and is the author of seven books. His latest is “The Good Humor Man: Tales of Life, Laughter and, for Dessert, Ice Cream.” Reach him at [email protected] or via