Heating and Cooling

by Jonah

[August 1995. Exact date unknown.]

Berck, you may be heating and cooling the whole darn neighborhood.

I was talking to Jenifer the other day at the kitchen bar thingy. I was
in the middle of the story of how I met Eric the Awful for the first
time, when she inturrupts, looks me right in the eyes, and says, “Jonah,
you may be heating and cooling the whole darn neighborhood.” My face
freezes for a moment in a look that has to be as blank as possible
before contorting into a human question mark as I squeeze out the word,
“WHAT?” At this, her deadpan expression shatters, broken by convulsive
laughter. My face still displays an interrogative mask as my mind flips
through any and all connections to the subject at hand only to come up
empty. Then I search the dark reaches of every conversation I’ve ever
had with anyone that would have anything to do with the words she has
uttered. Nothing again. After the five seconds or so it takes me to rack
my brain, apply logic, and apply things that have nothing whatsoever to do
with logic, I repeat my inquiry. “WHAT?!” Jenifer cannot speak. An
entirely plausible expanation enters my mind and exits through my lips,
“Do you have a problem?”

Though her body is still writhing from under the influence of laughter, she
manages to lift an envelope up to my line of vision. It is a piece of
junk mail, advertising something like airconditioner pipes or things of
that sort. Suddenly, with that one motion, everything makes sense, and
the hilarity of my bafflement with absurdity engulfs both of us. Her
eyes widen to mirror mine before almost closing as we fall to the floor
in tandem, laughing too hard to control most bodily functions.

After we had sufficiently recovered, I spoke to her, “Jenifer?” She
turns and give me her whole attention. But I can’t do it. I can’t say
it with a straight face. “You may be heating and cooling the whole darn
neighborhood!” I manage to exhale between laughs.

Later when Max came in, Jefiner subjected him to the accursed phrase
also. He got an incredibly puzzled look on his face, mingled with a
quizzical smile. His eyes wondered over to a corner of the room as if
to aid the search going on inside his head. I knew exactly what he was
going through. And I couldn’t help but laugh.


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