Because he pays the electric bill, Speedy has rules. And he gets really upset when his rules are not followed. You know, like switching the lights off when leaving a room or turning the TV off before going to sleep. But because he has this nasty habit of dozing off almost as soon as his head touches the pillow, he is the one who breaks the TV rule most often. And when he does, Sam makes sure that he gets told off. If she catches him sleeping with the TV on, she wakes him up and gives him a lecture. And he can’t complain, really, because it’s his rule but he isn’t exempt from observing it. But he does try to wiggle out of his predicament by insisting that he’s just resting with his eyes closed. Yah, right — like that’s not called sleeping since, in his case, resting with eyes closed is often combined with snoring.
But Speedy’s biggest rule about power consumption is with regard to the use of the aircon. There is only one room in the house with an aircon — the family room. We’ve developed this habit of sleeping there on Friday and Saturday nights — all four of us — snuggled under comforters with the aircon on. We’d watch DVDs until the wee hours of the morning, sometimes playing Scrabble, feasting on midnight snacks and, you know, just taking the time to bond.
There came a time when the kids would ask if we could all stay in the family room even if it wasn’t a Friday or a Saturday night. When the weather justified it, Speedy would relent and we would turn the aircon on. Whether it was a natural consequence or not, the time came when everyone would start arguing about whether it was too hot or still cool enough to determine whether the use of the aircon was justified or not. Usually, the kids would win or, perhaps, Speedy let them win because he really is a softie at heart and he just doesn’t like letting on.
One day, probably on the day he got the electric bill, he announced he was getting a wall thermometer. It should stop all the arguing, he said. If the reading was 27oC or below, no aircon. And so he arrived home from work one day with a wall thermometer.
But the arguing didn’t stop. Sam said the reading was all wrong. It couldn’t be below 27oC because it was too hot. And I agreed with her although I did try not to aggravate the situation. It was possible that I was often swathed in perspiration because I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, often with two burners and the oven on all at the same time so, you know, I might feel warmer than it really is. So, the arguing went on for a few days with Sam insisting that the wall thermometer that Speedy bought was a FAKE.
To prove his point, Speedy tested it. It was a very warm night, we were all perspiring like crazy but the darn thermometer said the temperature inside the house was something like 25oC. I was cooking at the time, Speedy came into the kitchen with the thermometer in his hand. He placed it near one burner with a pot of broth simmering over it. He watched as the red mark go up while muttering that it ought to prove that Sam was wrong and the thermometer was NOT A FAKE. But the darn red mark never went beyond 34oC. Heck, a few inches from the stove where a pot of broth was simmering? Not a fake, eh?
Realizing he bought a lemon, Speedy chuckled to himself (was there a more proper reaction?), went back into the bedroom and remounted the thermometer on the wall. Then the bloody thing fell off and broke. And I just had to ask at that point where he bought the blasted thing. From one of those Japanese stores, he said, where all items were priced at 88 pesos. Oooooh, the cheapo! I don’t know in which trash can he threw the thing — or pieces of the thing — or maybe he kept it because he likes saving things “for future use.”
What I know is that he bought another wall thermometer — not from the everything-P88-Japanese-store — and mounted it on the side of a bookshelf in my study, a few steps from the door to the family room. But no one really checks the reading, not even Speedy. No one really knows if this second thermometer is a fake too but the good news is that no one argues anymore about whether it’s too hot or not to switch on the aircon. Now it’s more of if it rains, no aircon; if it doesn’t and there’s no breeze, we turn it on. I think those are more accurate than any cheap wall thermometer.