While I was growing up, my father had a descriptive phrase for people who need a little extra sensitivity and care. He called them “delicate flowers.”
This was not a complimentary term.
I remember whining about something (doubtless critically important in my seven year-old mind, though long forgotten now) and looking up as Dad fixed me with that look.
“Are you a delicate flower?”
Whatever the problem was, I handled it.
As I grew older, the question became something of a joke. I even turned it back around. (Sorry, I can’t wash the car today. It’s hot, and I am a delicate flower.) I still use the phrase – and for some reason it always draws a laugh. (Perhaps the fact that delicate and flowery are the last two words most people would use to describe a woman who’s as comfortable washing horses as dishes and plays with aquariums for fun. Maybe.)
Flash forward to last night when the air conditioning broke.
I live in Sacramento, which is wonderful three seasons of the year. In summertime, however, my house is only slightly cooler than the surface of the sun. Considering that I take after my Nordic ancestors when it comes to temperature preferences (read: I’m half penguin) air conditioning isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity in my book.
Last night I came home from work to find the A/C system off and a pool of frozen air swirling around the hall. My face was sweating, but my ankles were freezing cold. A quick investigation revealed frozen air leaking out the return – that panel near the floor where air normally enters the A/C system.
Obviously, that wasn’t normal. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s bad, Ray. (Extra points if you get the reference.)
A call to the company that installed the system two years ago confirmed my initial suspicions. Cold emerging from the place where warm air normally enters the system is not a standard operating condition. In fact, it’s somewhat contraindicated. Bad news: your system is broken.
Worse news: we can’t come out to fix it until tomorrow.
I spent the next twelve hours sipping homemade smoothies, reading books and generally staying as still as possible. I know it was only 90 degrees when I got home, and 82 by midnight, but as you may have figured out… I am a delicate flower!
I fell asleep with the windows open, the fans on high and my awesome husband watching TV extra late in order to keep the house opened up as long as possible. (He may not have done it solely on my account, but I can pretend.) I woke up this morning and headed to work before the A/C tech arrived, grateful that I can afford air conditioning. As of noon, the system is fixed (I called to check) and I can return to my icebox this evening as usual.
The evening without cold did teach me a couple of things, however. First, I am grateful for the 364 days of the year when the HVAC system works as intended. For most of the world, that’s an unimaginable blessing and I take it for granted far more than I should. Second, I really am a delicate flower sometimes.
But in the immortal words of Khalil the almost-caterpillar, “I am okay with that now.”