A bead of sweat blazes a trail down the side of my face and ends up dangling from my chin, waiting for another drop to follow in its wake and set them both airborne.
There are more signs, too.
My clothes sticking to me slightly. The air in the room (or lack thereof) is heavy with good ol' Nebraska humidity, giving my lungs a horrible drowning sensation. Breathing itself is becoming a chore, something at which I have to actually concentrate.
So what is it, you ask? It is war, my friends.
My parents are soul mates. Made for each other. Inseparable. Faithful to the end. They've got each other's backs. They're watching each other's six's. They agree on everything. Almost.
Every couple disagrees on things here and there. Most work through them, or settle things peacefully through gentle compromise. The same is true for my parents...most of the time. In one area, though, there will be no compromise on either side. Nobody is backing down. All must choose a side and stick to it with all your heart.
I have never known a time when the temperature inside the house was agreed upon by my parents. And I guess to be fair, they can't really help it. Mom is always cold. Dad is always hot.
Not that the room temperature has ever been the topic of arguing or a marital stumbling block. My parents prefer to keep this little battle on the hush-hush. Almost like the Quiet Game, mixed with Capture The Flag, King Of The Hill, Mafia, Dark Finger, and Chess while acting like ninjas. The only catch is that the game never ends. "...It just goes on and on my friends..."
And they're always recruiting new ninja pawns, because the more ninja pawns you have working for you, the more ninja eyes you can have watching the thermostat when you aren't around. That's the way the game/war works. Dad's got his army, and Mom's got hers. And actually, new intelligence suggests that even the neighbor kids are getting involved, though these allegations have yet to be confirmed.
Over the years, the game has evolved into something much more complicated. Whoever your "leader" is (either Mom or Dad), can be making hand signs from across the room, even while other, opposing players are in the room, instructing you what to do with the thermostat or what number to set it to.
And let's not forget the importance of position. In other families, in normal homes, who have normal conversations and act normally at any given time, people might walk casually into the family room in a relaxing fashion and pick a chair or place on the couch at random, or perhaps based on whichever looked most comfortable at the moment. Not so, in my house. See, there's a chair sitting directly under the thermostat control panel. Prime seating, baby. This is the way it goes:
*Someone from Team Dad* "I'm going to go watch TV."
*Someone from Team Mom* "Yeah, me too."
The two share a short glance. In that glance many words are being said. Dares, trash talk, threats, goads, and battle cries are all being communicated in a four second glance. More, if you allow time for facial expressions. And after that, the race is on. The two will bolt into the family room, stampeding over whatever helpless objects (or siblings) happen to be in the way. The lucky one who makes it to The Throne Of Power first will be king (or queen) of the hill, for however long they sit there. Unspoken Rule Of Warfare: NO instigating battle with anyone sitting in The Throne Of Power. If they're there, they're there for as long as they want to stay there. Usually Dad is there.
So now, back to present time. After feeling that terrible heat settling over me like a mink comforter in this cursed summertime, I wasted no time in steeling downstairs and turning the AC to something a little more compatible with staying alive.
Score one: Team Dad! Semper Fi!
"Nowhere Man" --The Beatles.