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Some Like It Hot

By January Gordon Ornellas

I’ve heard stories of people who live in houses, and when the temperature gets too hot, a magical box turns on, and a stream of cool air fills the house and the husband and wife live happily ever after.

These are called fairy tales.

Yes, it’s true, we own that magical box. But whenever I suggested the preposterous notion that we actually turn it on, my husband's response was, “DO YOU KNOW HOW EXPENSIVE IT IS TO COOL THIS HOUSE?”

No, I do not.

But neither do you because we’ve never actually cooled it.

This has been going on for the last 30 years.

We’d be in the middle of a heatwave and our house was the temperature of Mercury. (Or whatever the hottest planet is.) Just trust me, it was toasty.   

“Steve, how about we turn on the AC?” I said, sweat trickling down my face. “I’m dying here.”

“You’re hot?” Steve asked, genuinely perplexed.

Meanwhile, my internal organs sizzled.

“Do you not see the sweat on my face?” I said, fanning myself.

“Oh, yeah.”  He nodded and smiled. “You look good. Very glowy.”

I didn’t answer.

I just stood there, “glowing.”

Steve sighed. “Fine.”

A button was clicked and a blast of cold air, that until now I had only read about, blew through the house.

I stood in front of one of the vents, sucking it all in. 

“Sweet holy Freon,” I whispered.

A few years later, my friend Chriss and her kids came to visit.

It was the summer of 2008, and once again, the temperatures were in the triple digits. We had just returned from the beach, and upon entering our house, Chriss almost fainted.

“Good God, why is it so hot?” she asked.

Thank you, Chriss. It IS hot.

“Uh, maybe we can turn on the AC?” she said.

And that’s when Steve appeared.

“Yes, we definitely need to turn on the AC,” I said, giving Steve “the look” and nodding towards our guests, who appeared to be melting.

Chriss’s kids looked at “Uncle Steve” with their adorable, overheated little faces.

Come on, Steve. Do it for the kids.

“I would,” Steve said, “but, unfortunately, it’s broken.”

I raised an eyebrow.

An appliance that rarely gets used is suddenly broken?


“Don’t worry, we’ll open some windows and get some nice cross breezes,” he said.

This guy was always trying to sell me on “open windows” and “cross breezes.”

Think again, Buddy.

Chriss was confused about the whole situation since, according to her, her husband has no problem running the AC.

She told tales of how the AC turns on if the house gets above 76 degrees.

“Tell me again how you never get heat stroke in your own house,” I said.

It was such a touching story, it brought me to tears.

Nope, that was still sweat.

For many years, we continued on like this: A hot wife living in a hot house.

(Just to be clear, I mean, “sweaty-hot,” not “hot-hot.”)

Then about a year ago, everything changed.

It was late August and the temperature was in the high 90s.

I had just returned from the grocery store, expecting to walk into Casa de La Fuega, and instead, I was greeted by the sweet breeze of artificial air.

“Steve!” I yelled.


except for the AC running at full blast.

“Steve!” I called again, my concern growing.

Obviously, he had been kidnapped, and in the process, the kidnappers had turned on the AC.

I’m gonna miss that guy.

But also, the house felt great.

Steve galloped down the stairs. “Shh,” he said. “Holland’s napping.”

(Holland is our granddaughter.)

“But the air is on,” I said.

“I know,” he said. “Poor thing was starting to sweat.”

You know who else has been sweating for the last 30 years?!

“She’s not going to sleep well if she’s hot,” he explained.

You don’t say.

“Gotta keep my little angel cool,” Steve said, smiling. 

He turned down the thermostat a few more degrees.


Who knew thermostats went that low?

We’ve been running the AC ever since.

Thank you, Holland!

The only downside is that we can now answer the question, “DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH IT COSTS TO COOL THIS HOUSE?”

The answer is…


— January Gordon Ornellas

January Gordon Ornellas is a comedy writer whose stories include everything from colonoscopies to triathlons (equally torturous). Her article, “Rookie’s Triathlon Lessons,” appeared in the LA Times (June 2019). Two of her other stories, “Gobble, Gobble” and “Almost Taken,” were recently published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Laughter is the Best Medicine (April 2020), and another four can be found in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Too Funny! (April 2022). She won honorable mention in the global humor category in the 2022 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition and is currently working on a book, Confessions of a Crazy Softball Mom. January also enjoys writing for her blog (, traveling and spending time with her husband and two adult daughters.

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