Tuesday, July 25, 2006

On Becoming a Wimp

I never thought I’d say this, but go ahead, call me a wimp.

Until this week I’d spent a life-time priding myself on being tough. Let’s be very clear about this. When I was in elementary school, I petitioned to get into boys’ PE, because girls’ PE was too wimpy. As a child I was upset that “campouts” for our church’s girls group meant staying in dorms and doing indoor crafts, but campouts for boys included building shelters, making fires and digging latrines. During high school I did a 10-mile run on my toes hoping to strengthen my calf muscles for track season. I’ll even admit to some really strange “tough” things. As a child, when temps were triple-digit I would walk barefoot across the street and stand a moment on the man-hole cover. While living in Michigan, I typically did not wear a coat in winter, even when the temps were below zero Fahrenheit. I've even been known to forgo pain relief for full colonoscopies with biopsies. Masochistic? Maybe. Eccentric? Quirky? Definitely! . . . but wimpy? Absolutely NOT! . . . well, not until now that is.

Let me share recent local headlines: “Hottest July on Record,” “Death Toll Climbs” (34 area deaths thought to be heat-related), “Animal Carcasses Pile Up” “County Leads State in [heat-related] Deaths” “Punishing Heat Has Coroner’s Office Scrambling,” “Withering Temps Killing Dairy Cows – Estimated 1 percent of herds down poultry losses also high,” “Fish in Jeopardy, Too.”

Did you catch that last one? Even WATER-dwelling creatures are DYING from this heat.

. . . and then our air conditioner broke. That’s when this formerly tough woman cried “uncle.” I’m not sure to what extremes I would have gone to get it fixed ASAP, but I was ready to take any and all drastic measures that may have helped. The day after our AC went out I opened the paper and found an opinion piece entitled “No AC? No sweat, older folks say.” OK, just slap me across the face and call me a wimp.

Yes, I am aware that for most of the history of the world there was no air-conditioning, and that for most of the world’s population that is still the case. Realize, however, it is also true that for most of human history, penicillin was unknown. I find I’d rather live in a time and place where both antibiotics and air conditioning exist.

I was immensely grateful when our air-conditioner was fixed this morning!

Does this make me a wimp? If so, bring it on! I’ll give up my hard-earned label “tough” and gladly take on the label “wimp;” just as long as you DON'T take my air-conditioning away!


Anonymous said...

We were glad to here that your AC is now in operation. After our class tonight we drove by the pool to see if you guys were there and did not see you. Love Mom & Dad.

Dan said...

When I was in college, I would put a tray of water in the freezer. Once it was ice I would set it in front of the fan. When the air blew over it, it made a nice, cool breeze.

Tony said...

My how far Jeopardy! has fallen. Now even fish get in! Do they still get their picture taken with Alex?

Heidi said...

You know, that struck me too when I read the headline. I wondered if anyone else would "catch" it. I should have known a pun-master such as yourself wouldn't miss it!

After KenJen's recent rant, I wonder if Alex will pose with anyone for pics anymore!

Nethe said...

I´m getting wimp-y too, Heidi!
Just came home form field work i Northern Greenland, and I felt my age. Have not felt it before, but now it has come. 30+ makes my fingers ace, my knees stif, my spirit low... Chocking!
As a child, I too was tough. I guess it was mom´s fault, really. "I could climb higher than that when I was 7!", she would say, or push us down snowy slopes other moms would gasp at if their kids would even dare go near. And I too whished to join the boys on camps, not the girly-girls sitting inside and drawing the flags of countries for the n´th time. I was immensely proud of the knife I got for my 5th birthday... Hmm, memories come tumbling now, let me move on:
You now melt in heat, where before you would seek out the hottest hot-spots. But I have come to the saddening hypothesis that wimpyness comes to most of us with age.
Till now, I have found that as long as temperatures stay below 22 C, I do fine. Keep the frosts coming, I loved it. Winter sea-bathing, uh-year!
But after this 82-degrees-north trip, I must admit to the embarrassing fact that I also do not cope well with low temperatures anymore. My optimum temperature range is decreasing, and rapidly it seems.
I share your chock and sadness.

Heidi said...

Welcome back from Greenland! I look forward to hearing more about your experience on your blog.

I'm afraid you're right about the age thing. I just hit the big 4-0 late last summer. How can that be?! I still feel 23.

I had always been an athlete but have let myself go in the past couple of years. My goal is - before my son (14) hits the place in life where I can never beat him again I want to get in good enough shape to beat him in a running race at some distance, any distance!