Nothing boils the blood like turning the heat on

November 07, 1998|By ROB KASPER

SOME PEOPLE tell me it is getting cold enough to turn on the heat. I am trying not to notice.

Trying not to notice has become more difficult at our house recently, especially when I am in the kitchen. Our kitchen now has more potted plants sitting in it than some wings of the Conservatory in Druid Hill Park.

Gangs of geraniums, mums and even a spider plant or two took up residence in the kitchen this week when reports circulated that the temperature was going to drop below freezing. I regarded such reports as wild exaggerations, propaganda put out by purveyors of heating oil, the sellers of natural gas, and by assorted advocates of the view that life should always be warm and toasty.

Some people point to recent weather forecasts as proof that it is time to turn on the furnace. I scoff. I point out that even if these predictions of below-freezing weather are accurate, the conditions they describe are only temporary.

The temperature might have fallen to 29 degrees at 2 o'clock in the morning, I say, but forecasters are predicting that the temperature will soar up 60 degrees sometime next week. All we have to do, I argue, is stay under the covers, the wool ones, until the warm sunshine streams in the bedroom windows. Some people scoff at this answer.

My reluctance to turn on the heat is rooted in several beliefs. First, I believe that inhaling too much hot air is bad for a body. Spending too much time in an overheated environment leads to lethargy and weak thinking. Look at what it has done to Congress.

Second, when it comes to heating, I am frugal, although some people have used the term "cheap." Any funds sent to the various commercial representatives of big oil, big gas and big heat have to be pried from my sometimes-gloved hands.

When asked to pay for heat, I am more tight-fisted than Calvin Coolidge. Some people point out that when it comes to cooling, I am a free spender, tossing more dollars to air conditioning than ++ Lyndon Johnson tossed to the Great Society.

Third, seeing how long the household can go without turning on the heat has become my own annual test-of-guyness contest. Every year, I try to make it to Thanksgiving without giving in. Some people respond by saying that when guys get wrapped up stupid contests, they behave in stupid ways.

I am not sure how things are going to play out this year with the furnace. Lately things have been a little frosty on the homefront. The house has been making more cracking noises than my aging knees.

The other night there was a bee flying around our kitchen. I claimed the bee was attracted to all the plants residing in the kitchen. Some people claimed that the bee was trying to flee out to the back yard where, according to some people, it was warmer than in our kitchen.

If the turn-on-the-furnace movement looks as if it is going to be too strong to hold off, I do have a fall-back position. During the summer, we had some new heating lines installed in the bathrooms. I may turn on the furnace this weekend, but just to test out the pipes, to make sure the hot water lines to these new units are not leaking.

This, I repeat, will only be a test. Any day now it will be warm enough to put those plants back outside and turn off the furnace.

Pub Date: 11/07/98

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