Friday, January 16, 2009

What not to do when your central heating goes out (aka Marriage Advice)

Someday someone's going to have to explain the law of averages that causes things like this to happen just when you need them the most. Meanwhile I'm stuck with the simple fact that if central heating is going to fail,it will never be in the early fall,when all one needs to do is don another sweater. It is ALWAYS when it's coldest outside.

Yesterday our heater went out for cigarettes and never came back. In case my friends who live where it's warmer (like Australia) have missed it, here in much of the US we're a little beyond "extra sweater" weather. I'd say we've moved into three pairs of socks, long johns, and ski mask temps.

So my dearest husband valiantly drove to Wal-mart to purchase one of those really good ceramic space heaters like I've been threatening to purchase since the first cold snap. Before he left, I showed it to him online, explaining why it was the best one for our purposes. In passing I pointed out a space heater we didn't want--one that is reported to be noisy and doesn't put out much heat and burns out with heavy use.

I thought I heard him agree, but perhaps I mistook his clearing his throat for the words, "You're right" (They sound so much alike, you know). Just before he left he said that he thought maybe we should get two smaller heaters instead. No, I said, we want (the one I showed him). He once again cleared his throat in an affirmative manner.

While he was gone, I finished laundry and started on dinner, imagining the large ceramic heater I'd seen in the ad sitting in the corner of my livingroom warming my children and pets as they frolicked on the livingroom throw rug. (Children always frolic in fantasies, didn't you know that?)

Here's where the what not to do comes into play:

Gary returned an hour and a half later (we're thirty minutes from everywhere here) with his arms full of space heaters. Not one heater--two-and neither of them what I wanted. Worst of all, one of them was the not-recommended model I'd pointed out.

What not to do: When your beloved drives in an unheated car in sub-zero wind chill temperatures thirty minutes to buy something to keep you comfortable while he's at work (which is yet another long drive in the same car) DO NOT let the first words out of your mouth be "But that's the wrong one!"

And when he explains that the heater that you wanted wasn't there, DO NOT offer up, "But that one is one I told you not to buy . . . " and host of other criticisms.

Trust me, unless you're married to a much nicer guy than I am (and that's hard to believe) the resulting scene won't be pretty. After twenty-plus years of marriage you'd think I'd know better.

In my defense, I was right about the one I didn't want. It works okay, as long as you don't mind the fact that it sounds like a car with a hole in its muffler and in need of a tune up and a probably a new set of brakes, and an oil change. This one will go back to Walmart as soon as I can get it there (I wonder if Returns accepts items that have been flung at them from forty miles away?).

Meanwhile, though sheepish and apologetic. we're warm, which is the main thing. But this experience has been a good reminder. I don't do cold well at all (Gary would chime in here in definite agreement. Hush Gary this is my blog. Go get your own). Gary's known the heater had a problem for a few days, but assumed that it would wait until he could get to it when he's off on Sunday (clearly not one of his better assumptions). Procrastination can clearly be costly. On the other hand, his fish-wife-spouse could stand to remember how hard he's trying to provide for us and take care of us so I can stay home for these all important last couple of years of homeschooling. So if there was any take-away point in this blog post (I so rarely have one), I suppose it would be to remember each other's limits when the heat is on (or off as the case may be).


Pencil Writer said...

It's always fun to read about these giant molehills and to recognize acceleration--in the wrong direction. Hindsight is wonderfuly clear. And painful. Do you think that if we (like 37,394 other people) wrote a book of "How Not to Proceed in Certain Circumstances in Marriage"--because we've been there/done that we could cause a stir on Wall Street or on the Best Sellers list? No? Well, it was just a thought. How many of us (all you lurkers and friends, fess up now) have had nearly identical experiences to our friend Mary and spouse Gary. (We're all nodding our heads, Mary.) Sorry for the misery of no central heat and "the wrong heater being brought home" dilemma. Being cold is a misery I shudder over--quite literally. Hope you and Gary snuggled very close together after the dust settled . . . you know . . . so you could get warm and all. You know... ;-} And I seriously hope fixing the central heater isn't a major cost/undertaking. Missouri is dealing with some deathly cold temps/conditions. I know my daughter and family are having a BAD time with sub-freezing weather. Brrrrrrrrrrrrr. Prayers for you!

Pencil Writer said...

Oh, and yeah. Glad you still have power!!!

Big Plain V said...

You got a bunch of strapping young men -- send them out to cut firewood.

(I tend to go with stupid suggestions when I don't have anything useful.)

jeanie said...

I am so glad this is one piece of advice I can laugh with but know I will NEVER have to use, as I don't do Winter, so there is no way I am ever going to contemplate Extreme Wintering.

However, there are some gems there!

Debby said...

Glad to read this piece. I'd have done it wrong myself...

Scotty said...

On the other hand, his fish-wife-spouse could stand to remember how hard he's trying to provide for us and take care of us so I can stay home for these all important last couple of years of homeschooling.

From the post, it sounds to me that you get it. :-)

Note to self : Mary does not do cold very well...


Bandersnatchi said...

My hopes for warmth & coziness go out to you. I have shuddered in contemplation of what it would mean here to have no heat - as thousands of Canadians not far from me have experienced within the last few weeks. It ain't pretty.
Crossing fingers, I have avoided the outages so far.
It's nice that you have someone to cuddle up with, or at least a choice of mutts - they make good bed warmers!

Mary Paddock said...

Thanks everybody! PW--I sometimes suspect I could fill a book with what not to do experiences. :)

Ray--That would be exactly what I'd make them do--if we had wood heat and we're not quite to the burning a fire in the middle of the livingroom floor stage yet.

Jeanie--Lucky you. :)

Debby--Somehow I bet you'd handle it better.

Scotty-I did learn an important lesson this time around.

Geoff--Thanks!We're okay. :)