Two Gents on a Porch

Another overheard conversation at Rosehaven Assisted Living in rural North Carolina

By Clyde Edgerton

“How do you control the climate, anyway?”

“That’s simple: The more you run air conditioning, the colder it gets. Air conditioning controls the climate indoors. That has an overall cooling effect out of doors too, because people used to keep their windows open and now they can’t. So now the air that used to cool houses can be used to cool the climate. It’s figured out with a climate formula. I think Ben Gore came up with it.”

“But I keep hearing ‘global warming.’”

“Very true, but air conditioning has been going on for what, over 60, 70 years. Cars heated up the air for about 50 years before air conditioning ever got started and then the climate started cooling down the Earth’s surface, especially in America. Air conditioning has now cooled down the early hot effect from cars.”

“But they say that temperatures are hotter than ever.”

“That’s because of airplanes. They started building great big airplanes with jet engines in the middle of the last century. Big engines spew out a lot of heat.”

“What do the scientists say? I heard they were saying something.”

“You mean ‘what do weathermen say?’ Those are the ones who know about how hot or cold it is. Scientists know about rocks and trees and chemicals and are usually just professors. I mean, why would you go to anybody but a weatherman to learn about the weather? It’s like why would you go to anybody but a cook to learn about how to cook? Common sense stuff.”

“I guess if you did away with cars and airplanes, then the air conditioning could make global cooling. Yes, common sense. Maybe we can move into an era of common sense.”

“Which had you rather have? Global warming or global cooling? Since we have a choice now.”

“I don’t know. I don’t get around much anymore, so I guess I’d rather keep air conditioning and cut back on cars and airplanes.”

“You know, I remember the times before air conditioning.”

“Oh, yes. Me too. It’s hard to remember how we kept cool.”

“You’d sweat, you’d get damp, and then the air from a fan would cool you down. Before electricity, my mama had a great big hand-held straw fan. You don’t see them anymore.”

“You don’t see a lot of things anymore.”

“Those were the good old days. No erectile dysfunction commercials.”

“No commercials at all. I mean, you had commercials on the radio, maybe for Tide, but they were only every half hour or so.”

“Yeah. Those were the good old days. I remember in our little house we had this big old window fan planted in a window so that it sucked air out instead of blowing it in, and on hot summer nights you’d close every window in the house except for windows beside a bed, and that window fan would pull in cool night air, gentle like, and you’d sleep in just your underwear without a sheet. You’d have that cool night air gently pulled in, keeping you nice and cool, and you’re sleeping with night sounds instead of air conditioning sounds. Before morning, you’d need a sheet. I woke up more rested than I have since.”

“I understand that President Trump is going to recommend opening up houses with the air conditioning on so that we can cool down global warming.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Oh yeah. It was on the news. That’s what he’s hearing from his advisers.”

“I’m glad Trump doesn’t drink like Bill Clinton did. Remember what Clinton’s nose looked like?”

“You mean ‘looks like.’”

“Yeah. My Uncle Pierce had a nose like that and he drank like a fish. But remember, we said we were not going to discuss politics.”

“Sure. Right. But I’m not so sure letting air conditioning out of your house will stop global warming.”

“But you can. I promise. Think about it. And there are all kinds of benefits. If we go that route, we burn more electricity; if we burn more electricity, we use up more coal, and that gives us more coal mining jobs, which means more coal transportation jobs, which means more jobs making soap. Presto. You kill several birds with one stone.”


“You handle coal, you get dirty hands.”

“What about a high electricity bill from all that air conditioning?”

“That’s easy. You pay for your air conditioning with the money you save on taxes. It’s called the clean energy credit. Air conditioned air has all the nasty stuff conditioned out of it. It’s clean. Clean energy. Come on, man.”

“Oh. Oh, I see.”

“The future is so bright I have to wear sunglasses.”

“I never thought about it that way. I don’t have any sunglasses.”

“Well, you better get some.”

Clyde Edgerton is the author of 10 novels, a memoir and most recently,
Papadaddy’s Book for New Fathers. He is the Thomas S. Kenan III Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at UNCW.

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