I tiptoed to the thermostat and cranked it up to 72 degrees. Within the hour, my husband, Frosty, sneaked over and lowered it to 68.
Up. Down. Up. Down.
The thermostat wars are inevitable whenever two or more people are gathered under one winter roof. Getting everyone to agree on a comfortable room temperature is like getting everyone to agree on a movie rental. I've spent hours looking for that perfect family pleaser - you know, a gory foreign romantic comedy with subtitles. I don't think Woody Allen has made that one yet.
"It's so hot in here, I can hear my lips crackle," Frosty said the other night as he put his trigger finger on the thermostat. "People who are cold should wear extra sweaters." Down.
I pointed out that I already was wearing more layers than a wedding cake. "If my arms get any heavier, I won't be able to lift them to make your breakfast." Up.
"Jog. March. Mop. Work up a sweat," he suggested. Down.
Actually, I had leapfrogged the laundry-room piles, but my toes were still frozen. Up.
From my observations, women generally want more heat blasting from the vents and men want less. This could have something to do with body hair and the fact that most men have R-30 leg fur. I have yet to see a woolly mammoth shiver. On the other hand, I've seen some mighty cold, slick-legged chickens.
"This thermostat dial isn't exact, anyway," I pointed out. "I'm sure there's a five-degree margin of error, like the bathroom scales and the presidential polls." Up.
He tossed a pork chop in my direction. "Eat. Add another couple inches of body fat and you'll be warmer. You can eat radishes next May and lose it." He settled his chops in front of the TV and tuned into a gardening show set in the tropics.
I know the meaning of cold snap. That's what happens after a woman squats on a heater vent from October to February. I was one degree from a cold snap when a possible truce presented itself.
I switched off the documentary on worm composting and pocketed the remote. "Let's make a deal," I said. "One of us controls the TV remote, and the other controls the thermostat."
It was a tough choice, but he's now watching TV in his shorts. I'm down to one layer. All is peaceful until it comes time to switch on the air conditioner.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society