True price of air conditioning


The Wife just stood there. First she giggled; then she started to laugh. And for a change, the laughter wasn’t directed at me. Her mirth was in response to what I thought was a simple question.

“Where did the large black spot on the inside of the bedroom dresser drawer come from?” The answer she finally gave was so unique it had to be true. It was a tar ball stain. But that’s the end of the story. This is the beginning.

Like most, The Wife and I enjoyed the holiday together. We watched our small town’s parade and afterwards snaked our way through the various venders who seemed to occupy every square inch of shade beneath the giant oak and pecan trees scattered around our downtown square. At about 3 in the afternoon, after viewing the fourth table loaded down with homemade soap, my fun meter was pegged out. It was time to escape the heat.

The Wife took my arm and led me into a large furniture store for some refuge and much needed air-conditioning. Note to all you Neanderthals out there: if this ever happens to you, go the other way. This story is about to get expensive.

Upon entering the store, we were met by a blast of cool arctic air and the warm smile of a saleslady. They talked while I sank into the most comfortable loveseat on the planet. Unbeknownst to me, it was the very loveseat that The Wife had picked out last weekend. And yes, I agreed that it was a “must buy.” Besides, the thing was so soft I couldn’t get out of it to put my foot down and say no. But the story is just getting started.

It seems that the throw pillows on the loveseat magically matched the chair in the window that The Wife fit so nicely into. Throw pillows are just that — pillows you throw onto other furniture for no other reason but to make people buy more furniture while they are enjoying air-conditioning on one of the hottest days of the year. It was decided that the incredibly soft loveseat, chair, and matching throw pillows would not see another day in that store.

Looking back, it’s possible that that nice saleslady and The Wife had a master plan to redecorate our master bedroom. When asked, The Wife just smiled, helped me up, and off to pay we went. And, to be truthful, we would have a lot more money if I hadn’t sat down … again.

The nice saleslady asked us to sit in the two chairs next to her desk while she wrote up delivery papers. I’m a sucker for a chair that swivels. And the cute chairs not only swiveled, they also rocked. I swiveled, rocked, spun, and apparently answered each question asked by the saleslady with a grin and a nod.

After 10 minutes, we had not only agreed to an additional buy of the chairs, but also paid for fabric coating, delivery, and I think her next vacation home. An hour after we entered the air-conditioning, we were set free and sent back into the blast furnace. But I didn’t really care. We were getting swivel chairs. And by “we,” I mean me.

Once home, we had to move the antique dresser out of the master bedroom to make room for the new loveseat. Where else in the house would you place a loveseat other than the bedroom? The Wife has had the dresser since she was 6 years old.

I started to unpack the drawers when the discovery of the childhood stain was revealed. As a little girl, she was fascinated by newly tarred streets. When days are in the mid-90s, tar starts to turn soft.

It seems that The Wife used to make tar balls to play with, just like me and my brothers did when we lived at 110 Flamingo Street. And she kept them around for the same reason we did: Sisters really don’t like tar balls — especially when you put them in their underwear drawer.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is]