Monday, August 31, 2009

Box Fan, You Don't Have To Cool That Room Tonight

Things have changed.

This should come as no surprise to those of us who've monitored "things" over the years. Still, though, and maybe it's just because I'm older, I'm often struck by just how much things have changed.

Example number one is the box fan.

I have double doors leading into my study. In the summer, when various electricity consuming devices are powered, heat builds up. I have called it, on various occasions, "The Thermostad Of Fun," and it is, but I wouldn't mind it being a bit cooler.

The obstacles to this coolness are named George and Gracie. They will immediately investigate any open door, then ransack the contents of the room attached to the open door.

I actually asked for a screen door for Christmas. My wife fainted.

At about that point--well, after I revived her--I realized that a box fan would roughly be as wide as one of the doors. That would stop the cats from entering, and as an added bonus, I could pipe in cool air through the fan.

When I was a kid (I was born in 1961), we didn't have an air conditioner of any kind until I was nine. This was in a region where summer temperatures routinely hit ninety-five and humidity was almost as high. But lots of people didn't have air conditioning back then.

What we had were fans. Box fans.

In the 1960s, box fans were gear. There were many different manufacturers, different levels of quality, and if the Internet had existed back then, I'm sure that would have been a very popular newsgroup.

Box fans kicked ass.

Today, every single person I personally know in this city has air conditioning. It didn't register on me what this meant for box fans, though, until I went to Target. There was no display, no row, for box fans. Instead, there was just a stack of boxes in an obscure location with fans all from the same manufacturer.

Clearly, Target did not give the box fan the respect it so clearly deserved.

Amazon would be different. And it was, at least nominally--I found three different brands of fans. As it turns out, though, all those fans are actually made by the same company.

Box fans, it seems, are no longer gear. They exist only in the most marginal sense.

When you're middle-aged, you begin to think about things like box fans. When you get older, I assume, you begin to worry that you are a box fan.

And then, one day, you become one.

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