Conventional wisdom held by Japanese old ladies is that the air conditioner is a Faustian deal trading comfort for disease, an option of last resort, absolutely never to be used save in life-threatening situations.
“Today, it was so hot I just had to use my air conditioner,” has been a common statement from the little old ladies I know.
At first I thought it was something Japanese, some esoteric facet of Japanese culture I had yet to discover. And it is…but only a subculture to which only little old ladies belong. They hate air conditioning.
Me, I couldn’t last the Japanese summers without it–especially in Yamanashi, which held the record for highest temperature in Japan for three days straight–so I don’t quite understand their contempt for the happy, hard-working little unit whose job it is to keep you cool.
I just didn’t get it, so I asked. And five little old ladies and I put the AC on trial to see if it really was poisoning the lives of those it served.
Defendant: Air Conditioning
Defendant’s lawyer: Me
Prosecution: Five Japanese old ladies
The trial proceeded over the course of several days, each member of the prosecution proposing different arguments in turn. Here is a record of proceedings.
“Why don’t you like the air conditioner? I use it everyday.”
“It makes me sick.”
“I was so hot yesterday I had to use it. Now today my legs feel heavy and I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. I’m sick, because of the air conditioner.”
“I never want to get out of bed in the morning. You look fine.”
“I have no energy.”
“How did you come here today?”
“I rode my bike, but it’s 37 degrees and it takes fifteen minutes, so it was really hard.”
“You must be tired.”
“Yes, because of the air conditioner.”
“It dries out my skin.”
“Your skin looks fine to me.”
The prosecution rubs her face. “No, no. It’s horrible today. So dry!”
“But your sweating.”
“That’s because it’s hot!”
“Um, maybe your skin is drier when you use the air conditioner because you don’t sweat.”
“I like sweating. It’s good for you.”
“I like sweating.”
(Recorder’s note: this is a different person, I promise. She just said the same thing.)
“I don’t. I thought women didn’t either.”
“It’s okay, because I’m old and don’t care what I look like anymore.”
“So you like to sweat?”
“Yes. It makes me feel like I’ve exercised.”
“You like exercise?”
“I hate exercise. But sweating makes me feel like I’m losing weight.”
“I thought you didn’t care how you looked.”
“I’m still a woman.”
“You use the air conditioner everyday? Are you okay?”
The defendant’s lawyer blinks profusely. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
“It’s bad for you, you know?”
“No, I don’t know.”
“It is. It’s bad for your respiratory system.”
“I feel fine.”
“You’re still young, so it’s okay. When I use the air conditioner, it hurts my throat.”
“It gives you a sore throat?”
“You know, speaking of health, there have been a few deaths due to the heat recently. All of them seniors. You should be careful.”
“It’s okay. I like the heat.”
“I like the heat.”
(Recorder’s note: again, same argument, different old lady.)
“Sweating is good for you.”
“I sweat when I go outside. That’s enough.”
“I only use the air conditioner once or twice a year, when it gets too hot.”
“I thought you liked the heat.”
“Not that hot!”
“Okay, so you just sit around and sweat all day?”
“No, of course not. I use fans. I have a lot.”
“I thought you liked the heat.”
“Well, maybe not that much.”
Verdict: the jury is hung. The defendant walks.
As things stand, Japanese old lady wisdom is not enough to convince me of the dangers of air conditioning. I’m still using it. I’m using it right now. And I will keep using it until the day I die. Which according to them, it will cause. Who knows? You think heaven has air conditioning?
Question of the Day: Are you pro or anti AC? What do you think?