I always know when fall arrives because, first of all, my husband insists that we no longer need the central air to cool the house. Generally, he's right about this, but there are those times when an Indian summer day sneaks in and I find myself gasping and sweating while engaging in a strenuous activity like typing a handout on the life of George Orwell. I have no qualms about turning the AC back on, because I've managed to convince him that a Cool Wife is a Happy Wife. Being too hot makes me mean.
The other way I know it's fall is because we sleep with the bedroom windows open at night, just a crack. This is my favorite way to sleep, in a slightly chilly room with the sound of the wind rustling the leaves in the tree right outside our west window, and the milk truck going by early in the morning. Occasionally, I can hear the train whistle from ten blocks up the street, and that is my favorite middle-of-the-night sound ever.
As much as I like sleeping with the bedroom windows open, I have to be very wary of my husband, keeping a watchful eye on both him and the overnight weather forecast. Comes a day when he says, "I opened the windows and, hey - we don't really need this big blanket on the bed, do we?"
I sighed and carried on slathering moisturizer onto my face. We go through this same conversation at least three times a week during early-to-mid October, and it always happens in the evening when my defenses are down and my last available nerve has been worn down to a nubbin by the events of the day. "I think we need to close the windows a little bit because they're both wide open and it's supposed to get down in the low forties tonight. And yes, we will need that blanket."
"You may need it on you," he said, kicking vigorously at the blanket in a manner that always makes me want to clock him - I prefer to have the blanket neatly folded, accordion-style, at the foot of the bed, not thrashed down there in an untidy heap - "but I don't need it on me. I'm too warm."
"You won't be later," I remarked, putting the lid back onto my bottle of moisturizer. I went to the south window, which is nine feet tall, sash-style, and opens up to half that length, which exposes us to almost as much night air as a sleeping bag placed on the lawn under the stars would. I pulled it down to a height of about two inches and went to the other window, identical in height, and closed it altogether.
My husband immediately began gasping. "It is SO HOT in here," he complained. "No air at ALL." (This, in spite of the fact that a pedestal floor fan was on the medium setting and pointed straight at him.) "I feel like I'm going to suffocate." He slapped his paperback novel onto his bedside table and grumpily fell back onto his pillows, huffing.
"You won't think that later when it gets really cold in here, somewhere around four o'clock this morning."
"I don't think I'm going to last that long. It feels like a sauna in here."
I sighed again and switched out my lamp, settling myself back onto my own pillows and silently complimenting myself on my virtuous restraint from holding one over his face.
Later on that night, I woke up shivering, so cold that it was hard to bend my fingers. I was curled into shrimp-shape, huddled up with a light Arctic breeze ruffling the exposed right sleeve of my nightgown. I turned over in bed to find an edge of the sheet to pull over myself so that I could ward off hypothermia, and as I did so, the expected sight met my eyes through the darkness: that of my husband rolled snugly in ALL the sheet and ALL the thick, fleecy blanket, peacefully snoring his head off while I chipped ice particles off my eyelashes.
Three seconds later, he came back to consciousness with a yelp of surprise and surrendered my share of the bedding. See, one of the reasons why I like having long fingernails is because you can use one of them to make a swift, silent point and make it seem like an accident.
"Sorry, honey," I murmured, turning back over in the bed and pulling the warm covers up to my ears. "Sleep tight."
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