Growing up, my father was always on me for one thing or another.

When I was in high school, and prone to testing the limits of my curfew when I'd go out on a Friday or Saturday night, he would always make it a point to wake me early the next morning.

"Da-aaad," I'd whine, covering my head with the blanket.

"Just get out of bed," he'd say.

I'm sure he was trying to teach me a lesson, but it was a lesson I didn't want to learn. It took awhile, but the lesson I eventually learned was, if I got up, he would go inside, and I could then lay on the floor out of sight on the other side of the bed, happily spending the rest of the morning in dreamland. Happily, that is, until he discovered what I was doing.

My snoring gave me away.

As a kid, I was forever forgetting to close doors, cabinets, drawers. I'd open the refrigerator and stand there, letting my stomach take inventory.

"Close the refrigerator!" my father would tell me. "You're letting the cold out!"

So I'd close it, and the cold would be safe. Until I was hungry again, that is.

When I went to the backyard to pick up after the dog, I would leave the backdoor wide open. Why? It seemed the logical thing to do. Call it an addendum to Newton's Laws of Physics: "Why expend energy performing the same task twice (i.e. opening the door)?"

"Close the door!" my father would tell me. "You're letting the heat out!"

It almost seemed he was stalking me, waiting for every opportunity to jump out from around the corner and onto my back. I can admit now I was pretty thoughtless, which is another way of saying I just plain didn't listen. "What's the big deal?" I thought back then.

These days, however, I see things differently. For example, I've noticed the heater in my father's little in-law house at the front of our property is always on. It's on during the night. It's on during the day. It's on when he's in his house. It's on when he's in mine. Every time his heater kicks on, heavenly dollars fly out of my wallet, their tiny wings flapping.

Recently, we were having all the windows to our house professionally cleaned. My father's house, too. It was my wife's idea. Me? My suggestion was to close the shutters. Out of sight, out of mind. I was outvoted by the only vote in my household that matters: my wife's.

First thing I had to do on the big day was move all the furniture away from the windows. I don't know why hiring someone to work for us always translates into work for me, but it does. Inside my father's house, I noticed the first window I went to was wide open. The second window, too. In fact, ALL of his windows were open. Some just a crack, but open nonetheless.

"Close the windows," I was going to tell him, just to give him a taste of his own medicine, but instead I laughed to myself over how our roles have switched.

Cut to this morning, which, by the time you read this, will be two months ago. When I woke up, the house was hot. How hot? My father's dog was chasing the cat down the hall and they were both walking.

Outside, it was cloudy. Some rain. A light drizzle, really. It looked cool, the air fresh and sweet. I love this kind of weather, so for me it seemed like a perfect day. A perfect day I couldn't enjoy because of the temperature inside the house.

I went downstairs. My father was sitting in his usual chair at the head of the table. Well, it's his usual chair when he beats me to it. He was eating a big breakfast–he usually does–and wearing his usual battle-scarred old gray sweater. His dog was now by his side. He barked when he saw me, but his heart wasn't in it. "I'll get you later," he seemed to say. "When it's cooler."

I looked at the thermostat. It was set to What The Heck? I turned it down. My father doesn't see or pay the electric bill, so he likes to crank it up. The shutters in the great room were closed so my father could watch TV from where he sat without any glare.

"Sweetheart," I said to my beautiful wife as I entered the kitchen, "why was the thermostat set so high?"

My wife looked at my father, and then she looked at me.

"Was it?" she said, her sarcasm hidden in innocence.

"Pop," I said, turning to him, "aren't you hot?"

"What?" he said, giving me his standard reply. I don't know if he can't hear me or just pretends not to.

"The thermostat. Why's it set so high?"

He craned his neck, as if he could read it from where he sat.

"What do you mean?"

"The house. It's hot."

"Feels pretty good to me," he said, and went back to ignoring me.

I looked at my wife. She raised one eyebrow-nice trick, if you can do it-and pretended to fan herself with one hand. She was uncomfortable, too. The house was so hot I bet she could wash and dry our clothes at the same time.

I went back upstairs, opening the windows in my room, as well as the french doors to the balcony. The view is great, especially with the fresh air coming in. I turned on the TV and sat on the bed to watch it.

Ah, home.

How do doctors change the temperature?


desertexposure dot com

at JimDuchene