My Chinese American husband grew up in tropical Hawaii. When he moved to Los Angeles, his mom sent him with an electric blanket.
Years later, I laughed over that blanket before donating it to charity. I grew up on the East Coast, spending many holidays in New Hampshire. “Southern California is not cold,” I told Andy. “Twenty below on a chairlift is cold.”
The disparity in our experiences was highlighted during vacations. I ignored Andy’s advice and ran up a sand dune barefoot on the island of Kauai, yelling, “How hot can it be?”
Answer: “Hot enough that you wind up whimpering with ice packs on your burning feet.”
On one trip to New Hampshire, our son woke up at the crack of dawn, yelling. We bolted out of bed and found him in the kitchen—unharmed, but convinced he’d seen a strange cat. Andy disappeared while I got Baby D back to sleep. It was only October, but the temperature had plummeted overnight. I found the very old school thermostat and turned the dial up before hunting through the house for my husband.
He was back in bed, shivering.
I patted his arm and said, “Don’t worry, honey. I turned on the heat.”
“Good,” moaned Andy, who is an engineer. “I couldn’t figure out how.”
The one time we went whale watching? Andy spent 30 minutes in the hotel shower afterwards. He drank hot coffee while standing under hot water, convinced he was hypothermic.
Before any readers start in on how cold it is watching the whales in Alaska or Cape Cod, please know that our ship barely made it out of the bay in SAN DIEGO.
So you’d think that my husband would be the first person to bump up our SoCal thermostat (which he finds easy to adjust because it is not “an archaic New England instrument powered by witchcraft”) to higher temperatures.
Wrong. Heat costs money. My husband, like many Chinese Americans, is very frugal.
Our tiny house, which was built for hot summers (e.g., no basement, just a crawlspace with vents allowing cool breezes to circulate under the house) can easily drop to 55°F overnight during California winters.
Boss Cat sneaks under the covers. We cover up our short-haired dog with a blanket.
In the mornings, Andy will throw on a robe, slippers, and sometimes a beanie or wool leg warmers from Bolivia.
But he will not turn on the heat. Not even at 55°F.
Mark, a fellow blogger in South Dakota, wrote a whole post about how tough it was to get up when his household temp dropped to 59°F (though he immediately built a roaring fire).
Using oil for heating is prevalent in New England and expensive as fuck. Yet my ExStepmother in New Hampshire sets her winter thermostat to 64°F at night and 67°F during the day. So does one of my sisters in upstate New York.
And still Andy will not touch the thermostat, insisting, “It will warm up during the day.”
Which is often true. It might be in the forties in Southern California at 5 AM, but once the sun comes out at 7 AM, the temperature soars. Last Sunday we swung from 49°F degrees at dawn to 75°F degrees at noon.
Besides, most days Andy only has to last an hour before leaving for his warm office at work (in a car with heated seats).
Meanwhile, I type with fingerless gloves. Wearing a jacket, my own ski cap, fleece pants, a wool sweater, and a turtleneck. And wrapped up in a blanket crocheted by my friend JM.
But I’m not turning on the heat, either. Even though I have a history of sneakily turning up thermostats.
Because I’ve been on New Hampshire chairlifts in -20°F and no fucking way am I caving with the heat before someone who grew up in Hawaii.
I regret not keeping that stupid electric blanket.