Let’s play a game, folks!  It’s just a little something I’ve cooked up in my spare time lately called Things You Never Want to Hear in Florida … in July, and it goes a little something like this: simply choose from the following what you think would be the worst possible thing to hear mid-summer here in the Sunshine State of Florida…

a)      ”The AC’s not working.”
b)      “We’re all out of rum.”
c)      “There’s an alligator at the front door and he looks pissed.”

If you answered A – “The AC’s not working,” you win the prize, which coincidentally is this nice box fan from Wal-Mart that sure would’ve been nice at my house a couple of days ago when tragedy struck our quaint, Floridian household here in the dead of summer!  As for those of you who opted for pina coladas or giant lizards as your answers … well, despite the stereotypes or your apparent alcoholism, let it be known that either one of those things on their own don’t even stack close to the idea of Florida living, au natural.

Maybe both of them put together might come a little closer because hey, when the Bacardi doth runneth dry, opening the door to see if the lizard on the other side came bearing fruity coconut and pineapple-flavored refills may very well sound entirely reasonable, but of course, that’s an entirely different column altogether…

But regardless, by far the worst is still having the air conditioning just mysteriously die without warning, and if it happens after business hours like mine so conveniently did recently, then all the better!  Really, there’s nothing quite like coming home at about eleven o’clock at night after a long and grueling day, only to find that it’s rapidly approaching 85 degrees inside your humble abode … and it’s still warmer outside than it is inside … and there’s no breeze outside whatsoever, even if opening up windows was a minute possibility.  If there was ever a time to call in a favor from that friendly, neighborhood repair guy whose fence you had recently helped paint, now would’ve been a wonderful time to call in said favor!

Unfortunately, though, I have no such recently painted neighbor, and even if I did, chances are *I* wouldn’t have been the first one out the door on a blisteringly hot Sunday afternoon to help him save a few bucks by painting it himself!  Remember, with the Florida heat and all?! So there I, my better half already sweaty and less than thrilled because she’d gotten home several hours prior and was clearly done with this whole no AC conundrum – the two of us destined to bear the brunt of this lack of proper household cooling for at least the next twelve hours or so, all depending – of course, on just how available the repair guy would be to come relieve us the next morning.

And the trouble is that really when you think about it, there’s not a whole lot you can do when such a disaster strikes and you find yourself sweating to the oldies, minus the spandex and a creepy Richard Simmons frolicking around on TV.  Sure, you could spend the night eating popsicles with the refrigerator door propped open, or maybe just make the best of it by falling asleep in the tub, but either is going to leave you in pretty rough shape the following morning … assuming you can actually get out of the bathtub after what I can only imagine would be one of the worst sleeping positions ever!  Nonetheless, my wife and I finally opted to endure the old-fashioned way – by opening all of the windows, turning the ceiling fan in our bedroom up to blow everything that isn’t bolted down around the room in a frenzy, and simply hope for the best.

A matter of hours later, as the sun came peeking up from behind the trees, with songbirds chirping all about, we awoke, knowing that the worst had passed.  Well, there were papers strewn in every corner of our bedroom, it was still scathingly hot, and at one point throughout the night I could’ve swore I heard a wild animal of some sort clawing at the window, but other than that, we were good to go!  Now thoroughly drenched in sweat, we waited for the repair guy to come and lend us his services, which would promptly return us to the land of the civilized.

Twelve hours, folks!  That’s how long I went without air conditioning one hot and sweaty night in July of the year 2009, and frankly, those were probably the twelve worst hours that I’ve had since I moved to Florida over five years ago.  The human body just isn’t designed to endure non-conditioned air, much less temperatures with the digits 8 and 9 in them!  It’s something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies … well, maybe that one guy, but that’s what you get for cutting in front of me in line for It’s a Small World. No remorse!

So the moral of our story today, simply put, is this – if you live in Florida, don’t ever put yourself in a situation where you could possibly be without air conditioning for more than, oh say, four and a half minutes, max. Buy a second backup air conditioner, make a copy of your neighbor’s keys the next time they’re out of town, or even – dare I suggest it – actually help your friendly neighborhood repairman paint his fence one weekend, if for no other reason than so you can call him in the middle of the night should such an occasion as this arise in the future!  If he doesn’t have a fence, build one for him – trust me, three weeks of digging post holes and hammering boards will be time well spent if it might help you avoid spending seven or eight hours sleeping in a pool of your own sweat.  Whatever it takes, really…

Don’t let your household become just another sweaty, broken air conditioner-related statistic.