Baby, it’s Cold Outside

My parents didn’t argue about much, but there was one thing over the course of their 40+ year marriage they could never, ever agree on: the temperature. Turning the usual gender roles on their head, my dad was always cold and my mom was (and remains) hot. I cannot tell you how many times I heard some variation on this conversation:

Dad: Mary, can you check the thermostat? It’s freezing in here.

Mom: It’s set at 68 degrees. It’s perfectly warm.

Dad: Well, I’m cold

Mom: It’s not cold in here. There’s no way you can be cold.

Dad: I’m cold!

Mom: It isn’t cold. I’m not cold!



And on and on and on.

It took a long time before the obvious dawned on me – they were both right. Dad was cold, Mom was not. They were looking for an empirical truth when in reality, how any person experiences the temperature is entirely subjective.

This endless loop of argument came to mind last night when my friend Rudi posted the following on Facebook:

Is everybody in DC soft? This isn’t cold yet, people. This is far from REAL cold.

I saw Rudi’s status just after I’d gotten on the bus after waiting in a 11° wind chill for 10 minutes, and dammit, I was cold. Telling me it’s not that cold does not make me warm, it just makes me irritated. I used my one un-gloved digit (right thumb) to post a comment on his status to tell him so.

And then it dawned on me: Just like my parents, we’re both right.

Fundamentally, DC is populated by lots and lots of people like my mom (for example, Rudi) and just as many folks like my dad (say, moi), and every single year as winter sets in, the battle of who is hearty and who is not is waged. The warm-blooded folks go about with an air of superiority, while the chilly shake their heads with knowing, “Are you crazy?” looks. We mock like it’s our jobs, and argue as if someone can actually win.

Which no one can. I know this. I told my parents so hundreds of times.

And so, I’m officially out of this pointless argument. I’m cold. If you’re not, awesome. Good for you. Give me your sweater.

6 thoughts on “Baby, it’s Cold Outside

  1. susan December 14, 2010 / 8:11 pm

    Too funny…the recent growth spurts of the girls and a relative non-cold spell made me not realize until THIS MORNING (windchill -2) that neither girl had a winter coat. Now…no one in middle school actually WEARS a coat anymore, so they didn’t care. But…I didn’t wany my girls walking home in their little sweatshirts for all the world to see and to ask “What was their mom thinking?” So…Lauren carried hers to school (who knows if she wore it home)…and Meg…wore mine. Yes…wore mine. Sigh.

  2. Mom December 15, 2010 / 9:20 am

    I am howling!!! Good rendition of *that* conversation. :). And, sorry, darling, even now while lagging around as a retired “slug” the highest the thermostat as been is 64!!! And, baby it is COLD outside but I’m IN…..

    @ Susan — some other things do not change either — it is nice to see history repeating itself. “Wear a coat” !!! I see kids on our street in
    sweatshirts too. And to think we still want to blame their mothers. 🙂

  3. Mom December 15, 2010 / 9:53 am

    Oh, and P.S. I DO turn the thermostat UP for the Grands. They, like their father, sit in front of the radiator in the livingroom to get every whiff of heat. I think you all got the “I’m cold!” part of the gene!!

  4. Fran December 15, 2010 / 10:11 am

    I am your mothers’s twin, and I married your father 🙂 We have “the” dialogue daily … In AZ no less. When it goes below 70, the doors/windows get shut and the heat gets turned on 🙂

  5. Eileen December 15, 2010 / 11:36 am

    I was going going to say they had a “discussion” (they didn’t argue) though on this they never just “agreed to disagree” but then I noticed mom said “conversation” and Fran said “dialogue” and I can’t stop laughing 🙂

  6. Common Loon December 15, 2010 / 11:52 am

    Oh c’mon Sarah! This sounds an awful lot like a pre-emptive attempt to “officially get out” of any WC razzing. You won’t. I even suggested to Mom that we wear a CAPS bathing suit under our outfits, since it will likely be 30 degrees or so warmer than at our house and might as well take advantage of it…don’t worry, she put the kabosh on my scheme!

    Now I’m as much of a wimp as the next person (when living in FL, cold = anything < 60 degrees). I've had to toughen up, and have surprised myself at what now seems tolerable. Apparently, 2 of our 3 kids are not phased by cold: middle was out in -35 'cause he wanted to play in the snow and he complained when I made him come in because I COULD NOT TAKE him being out for more than 40 minutes). Youngest is more like the FL girl I used to be.

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