Extra Blanket, Anyone?

Quade Mainzer

You are seated at my coffee table, a rack of Scrabble tiles before you. You’re mumbling to yourself, working through the possible words at your disposal. Ale, leaf, …falafel?

As you make out the spelling of your favorite Egyptian street food, you notice your breath, visible and billowing in the chill of my apartment. You are aware that it is December, but you are also aware that it is Alabama and the 21st century, with modern heating technology readily available. So why do I refuse to turn up the heat?

Growing up in the Midwest, I was a child in a blanket family. Sick? A blanket will cure you. Tornado? Grab a blanket for protection. The 2007 housing market crash? BIG blanket for that one. Dad worked for a real estate company then, so that blanket covered my birthday and Christmas gifts for the year.

But nothing was more a reason for a blanket than a drop in temperature. Even a single degree change was motivation enough to whip open one of three linen closets and grab a plethora of cozy comforters. Mom distributed them to each bedroom, seating surface, and door handle. One was always within five feet of a quilt after the summer months.

Dad made sure we knew the enemies that came with the onset of autumn: a drafty window. A hot shower lasting longer than four minutes. A lamp left plugged in overnight. An over-reliance on electricity was a clear segue to, waste, complacency, and—most certainly—Hell. I was allowed to drive stick shift before I was allowed to mess with the thermostat, and even then it was under the watchful eye of my father.

You might say that I am frugal. I say that I am f-f-frugal (through chattering teeth). But I am currently beating you in Scrabble, and I’m not the one going to Hell for excessive greed. So I don’t take it to heart. Nor do I take my father’s hawkish behavior as anything less than a life lesson. I am a man now.

More specifically, I am a man with bills. A man with dreams and Scrabble superiority, yes, but a man with bills nonetheless. And without dependents or pets, I am the sole contributor to the cost of my bills. So I am wary of every action that raises the price of my utilities.

More empathetically, however, I am a man who invites colleagues to his apartment to play linguistically satisfying board games. As such, I must possess the maturity to fork over cents upon dollars to heat the guests I wish to entertain. By all means, you may sit directly in front of the heating unit. And you are welcome to any of the blankets in my linen closet.