Lisa Scottoline: WHY DON'T YOU TURN ON THE AC, DUMMY?

Posted: July 09, 2012

I'm sweltering because I have low self-esteem.

That's what I figured out.

Otherwise I can't explain my own dumb behavior.

This might be a new low, because usually I can explain my dumb behavior. Like if someone says, "Do you want to get married?," I always say, "Yes!"

Dumb, but I know why.

Temporary insanity.

This time, I don't, and the stakes are much higher. We're talking air conditioning.

We begin when summer started, in earnest. The heat wave rolled in with temperatures of 90 degrees, but for some reason, I don't turn on the air conditioning. One part of my house has central air, and it happens to be where the family room and my office are, but still I can't bring myself to turn it on. By habit, I try not to turn on the air conditioning unless I absolutely have to.

Dumb.

I tough it out. It's warm but not unbearable. I drink lots of iced drinks and wear tank tops and shorts. I tell myself I feel cool, even though the dogs pant and flop listlessly on the floor, flat as area rugs.

The cats don't mince words. They walk around with signs that read: TURN ON THE AC, DUMMY.

I know if I had a window air conditioner, I'd feel differently. Then I would turn it on and it would cool down the one room I was in and nothing else. But central air has to cool the family room, kitchen, and office — all for one person.

Me.

When daughter Francesca lived at home, I would turn it on all the time. It makes sense, for two people.

But for one?

Me?

I sweat as I type away, and I'm on deadline, running out of steam. Still I think if I could just hang in a little longer, I could get through another day. Partly it's the money, because the bill is so high, but it was high for two people too, so that can't be the real reason. It's not the money, but it seems wasteful.

For me alone.

Do you remember the commercial for L'Oreal hair color, where the tagline said, "Because you're worth it"?

I'll explain, for those under 70 years old.

The idea was that L'Oreal was the most expensive of the at-home hair color kits, costing, if I remember correctly, 12 bucks a box.

Yes, there was a time when things cost $12.

And yes, there was a time when I did my own hair color, and it looked it. I was a fan of Nice N' Easy, which went for six bucks and was neither nice nor easy.

They also called it hair painting, and we all know what a lousy painter I am. I'm the girl who paints around the pictures on the wall, so you can imagine what my roots looked like.

Picasso.

By the way, L'Oreal doesn't use that tagline anymore, though its website asks, "What Does Your Hair Color Say About You?"

Which, I realized, is a more tactful way of saying, WHY DON'T YOU TURN ON THE AC, DUMMY?

I didn't spring for the L'Oreal, and frankly, I don't turn on the air conditioning because, at some, level, I don't feel worth it.

Really?

Me?

Advocate for strong, independent women everywhere? Writer of books featuring same? Could I really have self-esteem that low?

Ouch.

I don't know the answer, and I don't want to know, but I turned on the air conditioning immediately, just to prove it to myself that I wasn't a loser.

The dogs thanked me.

The cats didn't.

They knew they were worth it, all along.

Look for Lisa's new novel, Come Home, and Lisa and Francesca's book, Best Friends, Occasional Enemies: The Lighter Side of Life as a Mother and Daughter. Visit Lisa at scottoline.com.

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