Friday, December 11, 2009

European Style

For the past few days I’ve been battling something in my chest. Because of it I’ve been having trouble breathing and there’s a gelatinous substance traveling my trachea.

I’ve been trying to stay warm but sometimes that doesn’t work. Tuesday night found me running on ice (literally). Wednesday morning was rainy and cold, then warm, before temperatures plunged on Thursday morning as the city entered the chilly wind tunnel where it spends winter.

When I woke up yesterday morning my nose was struggling against the cold air trying to squeeze some oxygen out of it. I was shivering and my hands were hurting. I wondered if for the first time in ten years I had gotten really sick but except for the shivering and the breathing thing I felt fine.

A glance at the thermometer and I realized what was wrong: my apartment was the same temperature as the fridge. The pilot light on the boiler must have gone out. No pilot light equals no heating and no hot water. I’d have to go at it European style.

My first trip to Europe was when I was fifteen. In 1992 (don't bother with the math) I had written an essay for a contest celebrating five hundred years of Columbus tripping over America and had won a trip to Spain. There were a couple hundred of us between fifteen and seventeen from all over the world touring Spain in seven buses and attending official events.

An uncle of mine who was the more traveled among my relatives had warned me that if I wanted to learn anything I should stay away from the Latin Americans. “Latinos are all the same, you should try to spend time with Europeans.”

Which is how I learned that Europeans have different views on showering. Neus, seventeen, from Spain told me “In the summer I do shower everyday, but not in winter. Every other day is enough.” And Florence, fifteen, from France confirmed it “It’s a waste of water – you have to save water.”

I’m all for saving water. Particularly when it’s ice cold and I’m supposed to shower in it. I don’t have access to my boiler so I couldn’t re-light the pilot. I’d have to wait until the super got around to it, which would not happen before I had to leave for work. I'd be European for a day.


  1. Oh, I love knowing that what I do not only has a name, but is a style! O yeah.

  2. If you're doing anything at all, you might as well do it in style, don't you think?