Winter is promising to be a home-heating oil budget-buster and so my husband and I have taken to turning down the thermostat and wearing bulky sweaters all day. I never feel completely warm, though, and last night, as we tried to watch a movie, he had to listen to the Greek Chorus of the Winter of my Discontent:
“Brrr; I’m cold,” I said.
He tossed an afghan my way.
A little later: “Why is it so cold in here?”
Finally, feeling chilled to the bone, I announced that the movie (All the Colors of Paradise) was beautiful and sad and wonderful, but that I’d had enough fun shivering and was headed to bed.
“Why don’t you put the big cover on the bed, if you’re so cold,” my husband called after me.
“I tell ye I won’t do it!” I called back.
“The big cover” is for us like “the big knife” in Moonstruck; the tool of last resort in a cold, ice-hard world. It is an enormous, puffy comforter that weighs a ton. You lay “the big cover” on the bed, and you finally get warm, but nothing is ever quite right again. The big cover is not subtle; it knows no nuance. It does not take a variable into consideration. Rather, utilizing the big cover means constant adjustments on our part.
Under the big cover, cuddling gets clammy, and so you sleep apart. The reasonable flannels one wears in winter become unbearably warm, and so you bring out the unreasonable, inappropriate summer sleepwear and beneath the big cover you are mostly comfortable. You can even cuddle, a little.
But if you have to get up in the middle of the night to visit the bathroom or get a glass of water, the summer threads in a 60 degree house make you giddy with cold. You jump back into bed, and your now-chilled body hits your spouse like ice-water thrown into a hot shower. There is jumping and shrieking and no one is happy until the big cover gets back into place, and the shivers subside.
It struck me last night that “the big cover” is sort of like “big government.” It is a deleterious slab of a “solution” that suffocates us unless we adapt to it, and in truth make ourselves rather uncomfortable in order to accommodate it; once we lay the all-encompassing big cover on the bed, nothing is ever “just right” again.
If we could just let the furnace–which is new, energy-efficient and sort of the “engine” of the house–do its job and heat our not-large rooms to more comfortable levels, we could get by with light sweaters, still conserve energy in relation to past years, and keep the big cover packed in cedar.
But no, our furnace–just like the “engine” of our economy, which is business–is currently doing less than it is capable of doing. Like our economy, it is less energetic, and we are less comfortable, because we are afraid to let it run at full throttle. Like small businesses all over the country, we are experiencing a frigid season, one where we cannot feel comfortable about tomorrow’s bills; we are holding on to our money, so we are not “hiring” as much oil.
And that means breaking out the big cover. It is a dubious solution–a vastly imperfect one–and using it does not solve the problems that are making us reluctant to fire up the engine of the house and get things warm and toasty around here.
It feels like the big chill is winning.
UPDATE: Apparently the first lady is warm enough for bare arms.
I do love the dress, though.
Ace: takes away the highpoints from an unemployment report that looks demoralizing.
1) Mechanisms for people to reenter the workforce have collapsed.
2) “it has never been more likely than it is now for the unemployed to leave the
labor force over finding a job in the labor market. This is a brand new phenomenon in this recession.”
Read at your own risk!
Ed Morrissey: A big win for whom?
Surber: UK provides potent reminder to the GOP
Kathryn Jean Lopez: Elites Begat Obamacare
Michael Gerson: Obama, a quarrelsome ally and a dismissive foe