'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
WINTER! BAH, HUMBUG!
In my house, I am the official “Thermostat Scrooge.” It is my job to walk down the hallway on a regular basis, bellow in a loud voice, “Omigod! 68 degrees! Am I made of money?!” and then turn the thermostat down a few clicks.
I’ve even memorized some lines from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” which I use whenever I see a member of my family sneaking down the hallway to turn the thermostat up a few clicks.
“Mr. Cratchit!!” I yell.
“My name is Maureen, Dad,” my daughter sighs, refusing to get into character.
“Mr. Cratchit, what is this?” I ask, pointing to my sleeve.
“A sweatshirt,” my daughter replies.
“And this?” “A down vest.”
“And this?” “An afghan draped over your head and shoulders, Dad.”
“These are garments, Mr. Cratchit. Garments were invented by the human race as a protection against the cold. Once purchased, they may be used indefinitely for the purpose for which they are intended. Coal burns. Coal is momentary and coal is costly. There will be no more coal burned in this office today. Is that quite clear, Mr. Cratchit?”
“Dad, we’re not in an office, we’re home. And we don’t burn coal. We have an oil-fired boiler with baseboard radiators. And Dad? You look like a moron with that afghan on your head.”
“Yes, but I’m warm!” I declare in triumph. “And it doesn’t cost me anything!!”
“Except your dignity,” she mumbles while shuffling away, no doubt plotting another thermostat raid as soon as I’m not looking.
Monitoring the thermostat is only part of my job as the official Thermostat Scrooge. I also must be vigilant about the length of hot showers in my house. This is a losing battle, I freely admit. My two daughters each have long hair and insist it takes a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes in the shower to wash that hair properly.
As someone with short hair, which is rapidly disappearing from the top of my head, by the way, I’m not sure if my daughters are exaggerating. But even when I suspect they are spending way too much time in the shower—hearing the hot water run continuously for a full hour is my first clue—there is not much I can do.
If I throw open the bathroom door and yell, “Mr. Cratchit!” my daughters are even less inclined to get into character than they are when the Dunn Family Players present Act I, Scene 2: “Scrooge and Cratchit at the thermostat.”
Instead of grudgingly playing along with me, they offer a blood-curdling scream from behind the shower curtain, and then threaten to call the police and have me arrested. As I exit from the bathroom, I point out that a more historically accurate line would be, “I shall round up a constable and have you brought before a Magistrate!”
Another important aspect of my Thermostat Scrooge duties is to monitor whether the front door is open too long. As soon as someone reaches for the doorknob, even before they’ve actually started to open the door, I begin yelling, “You’re letting all the heat out!” or, “What are you trying to do, heat the whole neighborhood?!” or, “Ahhhiiieeeee!! I’m freezing!”
Since my occupation is to work with engineers who design heating and ventilation systems for commercial buildings, I understand the physics of what happens when a door is opened during the winter. If a family member is especially lackadaisical while entering or exiting the house, I immediately begin a detailed scientific lecture which includes the terms “Delta-T,” BTU,” and “Coefficient of thermal conductivity.” This always causes the offender to slam the door shut and run away in terror.
Despite all my efforts to be the best Thermostat Scrooge possible, our monthly oil bill is still about the size of our mortgage payment. All I can say is, “Winter! Bah, humbug!”
|Home||Current Faith||Current Funnies||Faith Archive||Funnies Archive||Contact Bill|