MANDY FLYNN: Baby, it’s cold inside

FEATURES COLUMN: Guerrilla tactics heat up battle of the thermostat

Mandy Flynn

Mandy Flynn

Three years ago in Plainfield, Ill., something happened.

According to the Chicago Tribune, two sisters – Ilona and Wanda - had planned to spend their golden years together, but their retirement dream was shattered by a brawl that led to criminal charges against the older sister and a court battle over ownership of their shared home.

Ilona, 62, faced a judge after being arrested because of a fracas that started two days after Christmas. What did Ilona do? Allegedly, her sister touched the thermostat. Allegedly, Ilona didn’t like that very much, which resulted in the fracas. And this is how it went down. Allegedly.

According to reports, Ilona’s baby sister and roommate, Wanda, one day set the thermostat at the house to 67 degrees. Then Ilona came home, and turned it up to 68. Wanda went downstairs and changed the temperature setting back to 67. Ilona then turned the heat back up to 68 and was waiting when Wanda went back downstairs. That’s when, according to Wanda, Ilona shoved her away from the thermostat, knocked her to the ground and, when she got up, started punching her and pulling her hair, leaving her with a black eye. Ilona said she was defending herself.

Prosecutors charged Ilona with a misdemeanor count of battery.

Make no mistake, I unequivocally neither tolerate nor condone violence of any sort. That being said, I must admit that I am quite surprised I have not seen more stories like the one of Ilona and Wanda. Quite frankly, I am surprised I have not been involved in a story like the one of Ilona and Wanda.

“You could hang meat in our hallway.”

Those are the words I muttered when, a few days ago, my husband asked why I had such a scowl on my face. Thank goodness he didn’t hear me complain because I didn’t have the energy to argue over the temperature of the house at night. I like a comfortably warm room in which to sleep; he prefers it … how shall I put it? … cold. Just how cold is it? Don’t come in with your eyes closed or you’ll think you’re on the dairy aisle.

The thermostat has been a bane of our marriage for nearly 23 years.

But I have survived. I have survived freezing summers and freezing winters in the confines of my own home. I have slept under 14 pounds of covers and in three pairs of socks, worn sweat pants and a scarf in August, considered building a fire in the bathroom trash can, and crept like a super silent ninja across the house in the pitch black dark of night to pump up the temp a few degrees, then returned to bed in the split second before the unit kicks on as if I never left.

That, my friend, is talent.

“Who turned the heat up in the night? I was burning up,” he has said. I know in this instance I have two options. I can (a) fess up or (b) blame one of the children. I am not proud. They say that when it comes to learning to compromise for a healthy, happy marriage, you must acknowledge how your spouse feels, consider their point and empathize with them. The key is to respect the needs of the other person. I can do that. Maybe I will do that tonight.

“Honey,” I will say. “I appreciate and understand that you sleep better when the house is cold. I care about your comfort and respect you as a mate. In fact, just last night I carved an ice sculpture of you and left it in the middle of the bedroom. It is right next to the family of polar bears sitting on the bed watching “Family Guy.” Be careful not to trip over the colony of penguins living by the dresser or hit your head on the side of beef hanging in the corner. I love you.”

Sigh. I fear he may not appreciate my attempt at respect and understanding. I guess I should, instead, just grab another blanket.

At least, thank goodness, our disagreements over the thermostat haven’t resulted in a fracas. We’re too mature, I think. That, and maybe I’m a little afraid the polar bears would take his side.

I may be a super silent ninja, but I draw the line at fighting bears.

Email Mandy Flynn at flyn1862@bellsouth.net.