It’s bitterly cold and dark outside. You decide that a hot shower is just the ticket to relax and warm your bones. You run the shower. Cold. You run it some more. Cold. You check the sinks around the house. Cold. Where is that steamy hot water that I take for granted? How is it possible that we will have to make do with cold water or go unwashed? I peer angrily into the spigots. To distract myself, I think about those Polar Bear clubs where the members like nothing better that to go swimming in the frigid ocean right after New Years. There is always a picture of the event on the front page of the News Journal. A few people in the foreground are smiling. But there’s a certain pained look on the faces of the people in the background. One man looks to be clutching his heart as his body temperature plummets. The reporters should follow up on the participants and see who died of pneumonia or a heart attack in the course of the week.
Thinking about that scenario took my mind off the hot water heater problem for a few minutes but now I’m thinking about it again. I read a poem once where the persona said that “cold” was one of the most hard-to-bear aspects of the concentration camp.
The more I think about the lack of hot water, the more I long for a hot shower. A long, comforting, bone-warming shower. We call the plumber and he contacts the emergency crew. They’ll probably just show up, do a cursory check, and tell us we need a new hot water heater. Then they will charge us a fortune for an unscheduled, off-hours call. We have replaced the damn heater four times in the past 20 years. Other people’s heaters just keep chugging along making warm and hot water with no dramatics. Not our hot water heaters. Why couldn’t this happen in the summer? The next thing to go could be the furnace, or maybe the air-conditioner. And they’ll probably fail at the worst possible time, too. I try to think about pioneer times when they had to boil water in the fire to bathe in or pour over themselves. I guess I could do that. I could wash my hair in the kitchen sink and then rinse with a kettle of warmed water. If I’m desperate, I’ll do just that. I am a spoiled middle class bourgeois woman who wants…expects..demands to have hot water when she turns the correct spigot. Right now.
PS The thermostat was out and, of course, the cost of replacing it was such that it made more sense to buy a spanking new water heater. The guy heated the water for us to have one last shower tonight. Tomorrow the new heater will be delivered and we have been relieved of a wad of cash.