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Notes from New Orleans is a peek inside the life and culture of the Crescent City.

Love NOLA: Summertime And The Living's Air-Conditioned


When it comes to summer in New Orleans, I feel a lot like Goldilocks.

Now calm down people.  I’m not talking about donning a blonde wig and sleeping in a row of bears’ beds. 

I haven’t done that in years.

What I AM talking about is air conditioning.  Specifically, finding the right temperature for your home during those looooooong summer months when New Orleans turns into one big oven.

The way I see it, you have three choices.

Option one is to live in a deep freeze, which is the path chosen by a Whole Foods cashier I recently met.  While scanning my organic this and my free-range that, she told me how she sets the thermostat at 70 when she leaves for work, but turns it down to 63 when she comes home (63?  Isn’t that exactly one-half the heat index in August?)

Which leads me to wonder:

  1. Does this woman have ice for veins?  And…
  2. Exactly how much is Whole Foods paying its cashiers these days?  Perhaps I have chosen the wrong career.

On the other end of the spectrum we have those who see air conditioning not as a means to be more comfortable, but merely a way to be less miserable.
These people I do not understand.

They don’t even turn ON the air conditioning until it hits 90 outside.  And it’s not about economics.  These stoic folks say it builds character.  Well, so does walking barefoot through the Quarter in August.

They argue that you don’t really need air conditioning if you have a good ceiling fan.  Right.  All a ceiling fan does in a hot house is transform it from a dead-air oven into a convection oven.  And that just means you cook faster. 

A friend of mine who works from home keeps his thermostat at 85 during summer days, but turns it down at night.  To 80. 

He once asked me why he was having such trouble finding a boyfriend.  I offered that, perhaps, he just hadn’t met the right person yet.  You know, someone who enjoys sleeping in a pool of sweat.

As for me, when I first moved here, I was closer to the Ice Queen than my hot and lonely friend. 

That’s because I was raised to believe that “air conditioning” means 68 degrees.  Never more, never less.

Of course, I also was raised in homes that not do not have gaps the size of your fingers between the windows and the doors.  Homes that had, what do you call it? Oh yeah, insulation! 

Shoot, you couldn’t make my Treme shotgun 68-degrees on an August day if you tried.  Unless you turned the thermostat down to 55.  And since I do not earn the apparently six-figure salary of a Whole Foods cashier, dat ain’t going to happen.

Instead, I opt for 76 during the day and 72 at night.  It’s not too cold, it’s not too hot.  It’s just right.  Which allows me to live…happily ever after.  Just like Goldilocks.

*Don't miss Brett Will Taylor's "Newcomers Guide To Summer in New Orleans"

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