Much to my wife’s chagrin, I can’t sleep in a hot room

I really like my R2D2.

My Better Half does not. She says it’s too loud and she can’t sleep when R2D2 is operating, and I say I never hear it and I can’t sleep without it.

This unfortunate difference is not quite grounds for a marriage counsellor (yet), but it certainly has become a sensitive topic for discussion. But only when it gets hot out.

Maybe I should explain.

I like to be cool. Temperature-wise, I mean. As for being cool, as in “hip” or “groovy,” well, that ship sailed a long time ago.

No, what I mean is, when it gets to be in the 20s, or God forbid, in the 30s outside, I’m like the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz. I turn all green and melt into a puddle on the floor.

And I certainly can’t sleep when I’m all green and melted. This is where R2D2 comes in.

We don’t have central air conditioning in our house, and even though some summers, you can count on one hand the number of days you really need it, a few years back, I saved up and purchased R2D2.

R2 is the so-called “portable” air conditioning unit that lives in my closet when not summoned to duty. It really is about the size of Luke Skywalker’s lovable drone unit from Star Wars, and you can wheel it around to where you need it when it gets unbearably hot and muggy in the house.

Then you attach its large expandable hose vent to a window, plug it in, and in moments, you are basking in the cool, wafting glory of the modern miracle of air conditioning.

And unfortunately, you also have to bask in the raucous chugging of a John Deere 4020 tractor.

I’ll admit it is a tad loud. But I figure it’s a small inconvenience when the result is a nice, cool room when it’s so hot the paint is peeling off the walls.

The Better Half does not agree. She is an extremely light sleeper. If a mouse sneezes out in the garden shed, she wakes up. If a butterfly is flapping its wings two blocks away, she can’t get to sleep.

So when R2D2 fires up, forget it.

I, however, can fall asleep standing up in the middle of an active construction zone. All those years on the road sleeping in the rocking and rolling band bus, I suppose. But the recent two-day heatwave was the last straw for The Better Half – and for R2D2.

“Look,” she says, pointing at a TV infomercial. “There’s a tiny little personal air-conditioner. That’s all you need!”

And yes, there was this little box that sits on your night table, and it was humming away peacefully. And the nice folks in the commercial were sleeping contentedly and not melting, and it was a lot cheaper than marriage counselling. So what’s a guy to do?

R2D2 was unceremoniously lugged to the basement, and the new miracle cooling box placed reverently on my night table.

It was a very warm night. I click on the machine. It hums a very light breeze, wafting somewhat pathetically, but just enough for me to not melt.

Ahh, the fine art of compromise, I think as I fall into a state of semi-cool REM.

And that’s when I get an elbow in the ribs. My eyes fly open and I’m momentarily confused. The Better Half is wide awake.

“That thing is too LOUD!” she grumbles.

It’s a good thing R2D2 is waiting for me in the basement.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer writer and filmmaker.

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