Because I'm no masochist, I don't check the daily temperature forecasts in August. What's the point? I know it's going to be hot. Really hot. What difference do a few degrees more or less make when I'm trapped in this peninsular oven, sweat trickling down my body like the juices of a baked ham? I'm still getting cooked regardless. I have a friend who works in Qatar, and, yeah, the daytime high was forty-five degrees Celsius in Doha today, BUT IT'S A DRY HEAT. Here? A seemingly mild twenty-six.
But, oh, the humidity. Seventy-one percent.
Doha? Fifteen; and maybe Yahoo's weather information is fucked up (as per usual), but this made me contemplate moving to the Middle East:
Feels Like: 44°
So, apparently, low humidity can actually make the temperature seem cooler.
I should have paid more attention in science class.
Now, I'm not one who regularly bitches, moans, kvetches, and groans about Korea, the place I call home (Sparkles is known to rock the microphone). I tend to complain about the weather like the natives do -- i.e., I'm merely stating a fact and sharing it with anyone within close proximity. (It makes me feel like I'm part of the ant colony, you know?) But even I have a breaking point, and when the heat becomes too much to Bear Grylls, Legs and I -- even though I love her like I love my shoe size -- don't exactly see eye to eye when it comes to matters air conditioner.
(This is not a phenomenon unique to Korea, as this article illustrates.)
Legs, for all her many fine points (body to die for, puts up with my diva-like behavior), has one vexing flaw, you see. She's an air-conditioner dictator. If the A/C is making her cold, it goes off. Which, normally, I can handle. I'm a big boy, she a withering leaf; and, like I said, it's not really the heat that bothers me.
It's the motherfucking humidity.
It clings to me like a tentacled mutant beast. It makes me itch like wool underwear. If I spend enough time in its soup, I feel the urge to claw at my face like a man on PCP. I twitch. I get put in a foul mood.
I am not fun to be with.
Please believe me, however, when I say that our war of air-conditioner attrition is, on my part, more about personal ideology than about personal comfort. I've taken my share of abuse from the so-called weaker sex; and Legs, God bless her, is more apt to laugh at my oftentimes 왕자병 behavior than to hit me in the face with a stove pot for it. For that, I love her deeply. For that, I am willing to make sacrifices.
Except when I'm so disturbed by the heat that I eat breakfast in my boxer shorts, that is. I have my pride, after all.
If one were to think logically, it should be postulated that every machine has a specific purpose. Televisions are made for watching, cars are made for driving, and air conditioners are made for cooling.
But here's where it gets tricky. High-end televisions and cars are luxury items. A 62-inch plasma or a Maybach are -- sadly for you and me -- one of the many perks of being rich. They're statements of legitimacy to the wealthy. An air conditioner, though, is an affordable comfort (semi-affordable, at least) that, ONLY IN KOREA, is more often than not seen as a luxury item and used more as a conversation piece than as a cooling unit*. Based on my nine-year experience on Le Peninsula, turning on the air conditioner is akin to pulling a fire alarm. It's a drastic measure that should at all costs be avoided.
I've been invited into a lot of households in Korea. In Bundang. And I'd say that, out of the close-to-one-hundred-or-so homes I've
visited in the belly of summer's beast, no more than ten percent of them had the A/C turned on.
This, to me, speaks volumes.
The Washington Post recently published an article focused on Korean consumer spending. In it, it's predicted that if current shopping trends continue, Korea will soon overtake the US in terms of percentage of income spent to percentage of unsaved income. Wowsers.
And while I would never dissuade Koreans from buying designer items or expensive cars, or from paying high tuitions to send their children to "luxury" cram schools, I would like to offer that turning on the air conditioner every once in a while is but a mere fraction of those costs. A drop of ink in the Han River, if you will.
I am frequently reminded that the cost of air-conditioning is high, the nation and the globe amidst an economic crisis. But the reality of me being really fucking hot negates any and all pleas to exercise A/C modesty.
This humidity is killing me, girl. All I want is to be cool. And dry.
In the literal sense.
* Trademark, KMart's penis.