There is nothing more dreadful than an icy American summer. Icy cold! Unfortunately for me, it happens every year due to extreme overuse of air conditioning units and systems all across the country casting a chilly realization that temperatures inside are nowhere normal in this country.
As any foreigners would tell you, if you’re going on a trip to the U.S. between May and September, bring warm sweaters! You will use them daily. Bring pants too for that matter, don’t just pack shorts and light t-shirts. Restaurants, malls, movie theaters, buses, subways, homes, cars – if Oymyakon, Russia is the coldest inhabited place on Earth, the U.S. is not far behind during the summer months.
As I am writing this, frozen memories of past summer nightmares are experiencing a Big Thaw phenomenon right now: shivering while riding the bus wearing nothing but a t-shirt, shorts, flip flops and sunglasses and wondering how my body isn’t getting frost bite going from 100 °F (38 °C) to 58 °F (14 °C). Teeth chattering to the soundtrack of a summer blockbuster while holding an icy cup of soda and rubbing my arms to find the last flame of life dying deep within. Yes, I am the one who will ask you during a 2-hour car ride to bring the temperature down from Ice Box Max. to a semi-normal and more controlled Freezing of Assets. And yes, I am also the one who will wear jeans and carry a sweater during a hot summer day getting ready to go see a movie. You’d think that with the years gone by and the experience I would be more frost-resistant, but I’m not.
The French are not used to AC and I would say Europeans in general are in the same situation. In France, you will mostly have AC during the summer in big stores, museums, malls and… that’s it! Windows are not meant for AC units to begin with (French casement windows opening outward vs. American guillotine windows) and overall, the French are just plainly and simply against it. They say it will make you sneeze – and it does without failing, it carries germs, you will catch a cold and it’s not good for the environment. The French adopt the good ol’fashioned opening the shutters and the windows at 7am, closing everything by 9am when the sun gets high and hot, using fans inside and opening the doors and windows again by 6pm when the air is cooler. And it works! The Parisians would probably disagree here because living in the big city tends to create different rules. But it’s a green process. The French are much more in tune with the environment and how modern tools affect it than Americans. However, whether you believe AC is good, bad or not green enough, something that should be of interest is that AC is listed as a factor that may be related to the increase in obesity! See the International Journal of Obesity.
With the Ice Cubegate hindering flavors and taste (Frenchie and Mr. Freeze – Part 1) and Americans treating their cheeses like dead corpses (Frenchie and the Legally Dead Cheese), do we need to read between the lines that extreme cold air and AC in general do the same to people as they do to their food… meaning, make them numb and flavorless? We always burn more calories in the summer just because it’s hot, we sweat and our bodies need to regulate themselves. By conditioning ourselves to think that cold is a normality during the hot summer months, are we transforming our metabolism and bodies? Because in all honesty, would you eat a big buffet-style meal in your home without AC? No. You’d eat a salad or a tiny meal. But in a freezing restaurant, you are more likely to indulge in a heavy meal when it’s 100 °F (38 °C) outside. Stuck in a summer fridge, Americans are becoming their “legally dead cheeses”.