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June 24, 2014

BEAM: In the heat of the night

— Hot flashes have been waking me from my slumber as of late. I’ll crawl into bed all comfy and cool, and snuggle into the soft blankets, only to awaken drenched in sweat and cramping up from dehydration like LeBron James after the first game of this year’s NBA finals.  

Misery loves husbands as the best kind of company, so I turn to mine and see him snoozing blissfully with the covers kicked off and a steady stream of drool pooling on his pillow.

Wait a second. He’s snoring a little too peacefully, especially for being married to a troublemaker like me. Which means one thing. The only change that’s going on in the Beam household is my husband has once again turned up the thermostat.

This has become our battle, fought in the shadows like Cold War spies. Neither of us has caught the other in the act. That would be too easy. Instead, we only feel the after-effects.

For me, those include a reddened skin tone, an inability to wear sweatpants in the house and the need to guzzle more than three glasses of a chilled Pinot Grigio per hour.

For my husband, the cooler house brings irritability and a splotched scarlet face, most noticeable after receiving the electric bill.

Neither of us discusses the daily predicament. Alongside past boyfriends and shoe purchases, it remains an unapproachable subject. Not that Tim hasn’t tried to turn me to the warm side.

Early in our marriage, the time when husbands think wives are as malleable as Silly Putty, he attempted to correct my cool inclinations.

“Keep the temperature at 78,” he’d reprimand. “It saves us money.”

“Got it,” I’d reply, immediately adjusting the air to a setting that Antarctic penguins would need a sweater in.  

This went on for a year, until our first child arrived and started to teeter totter around the place. So sweet, so innocent, and so easy to take the fall for my thermostat adjustments.

“I saw him with a long stick and heard a banging sound,” I said as stoic as a saint. “He must have managed to slap the button a few times bringing the temperature down. He’s very innovative, you know. Benjamin Franklin, I read, did the same exact thing.”

A sigh would escape from the husband’s lips and a quick flip would right the thermostat wrong, only to be switched back the next morning after he left for work. Even doubters in global warming would have to admit climate change occurred at a phenomenal rate in our starter home.

Over time, Tim opted to stop wasting his breath. The wasted energy was enough, it seemed, and a variant of a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy went into effect, one that lingers to this day.

Instead of talking about it, we now, with feigned ignorance, just adjust it. A war of wills has ensued, and, due to genetic predispositions of stubbornness, neither of us will soon admit defeat. So the game continues until hell freezes over or the thermostat breaks.

As I climb back into bed after lowering the temp once again, I stroke my husband’s graying hair, the vision of dollar bills dancing in his head. Finally, my eyelids close to the rushing of cool air through a floor vent that hisses the subtle sound of victory.

— Amanda Beam is a Floyd County resident and Jeffersonville native. Contact her by email at adbeam47@aol.com

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