Monday, 23 July 2012
The Newfangled Blanket
By Mickey Rogers of This, That and the Other
In the winter, my grandparents’ farmhouse was an icebox. The living room wasn’t too bad if one sat within a foot or two of the pot-bellied stove. Of course, every few minutes one had to rotate in order to avoid permafrost on one half of the body.
The bedrooms had little heat so bricks would be warmed, wrapped in cloth and placed in the bottom of the beds. Back in those days, one longed to have a sleeping partner but not necessarily for affectionate reasons; a little shared body heat went a long way.
Somehow my grandparents had survived many winters in this fashion. One year, however, someone graciously gave them what Grandpa called “a newfangled blanket.” It was an electric blanket with duel controls.
Unfortunately, the first night my grandparents used this gift they got a hold of each other’s controls. It turned out to be a long night for both of them.
Within ten minutes of going to bed Grandpa complained that he was too hot.
“Then turn down the temperature with your control,” Grandma ordered.
He did so, but of course, he was actually turning down the temperature on Grandma’s side of the blanket.
“This thing isn’t working. I’m freezing!” Grandma soon complained.
“Turn up your control,” Grandpa murmured.
By this time Grandpa was sweating, and knowing him, cursing profusely: “I‘m melting under this %$#(*&^%! newfangled blanket!” he roared.
Grandma, through chattering teeth, replied: “Then turn down your control!”
And so it went throughout the night. Grandpa, his face beet red, felt as if he had slept in a sauna while poor Grandma had to check her body for frostbite.
The next morning after breakfast, Grandpa went about his usual chores. Grandma, still suffering from the effects of her arctic-like adventure, was wrapped in an extra coat as she cleaned the house.
Grandpa returned to the house at noon for lunch. Grandma had made hot soup but Grandpa, still trying to recover from his “night in Hades,” preferred something cold.
Finally he spoke up. “I’ve been thinking about that newfangled blanket,” he began.
“I have, too,” added Grandma.
Grandpa continued. “If progress means suffering like that every night, then I’d rather just keep doing things the old-fashioned way.”
“I agree,” Grandma said through still-chattering teeth.
That night they heated bricks, wrapped them in sheets, and jumped under a pile of thick blankets none of which was attached to an electrical cord. Earlier that evening the electric blanket unceremoniously had been tossed into the trash.
Maybe it’s a good thing that the old folks didn’t live long enough to have to deal with such “newfangled” things such as cell phones or computers.
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