It was borderline impossible to pry myself out of bed.  I sleep in a ridiculous pile of blankets and pillows spread across an illegally comfortable mattress.  The prospects of coffee and accomplishment normally get me up and moving somewhere before noon on a regular day, but today was tough.  Today it was cold.

Don’t misunderstand; I prefer to sleep in the cold.  I’m that guy.  I keep my AC at home set on sixty-seven year round and I crank the hotel thermostat down when I’m on the road.  I cannot bear to sleep when it’s hot.  Some people can, and I don’t understand them.  Only rarely do I find myself in the charge of these mysterious Heat People; a random friend or relative whose home I’m crashing for the night, a person who lives blissfully in an incubator.  I’m never ungrateful for their hospitality no matter how miserably I get through the night.  I will simply toss and turn in silence, dripping sweat and lying on top of the blankets until morning comes and I can walk outside to cool off under the sweltering Texas summer sun.

Who lives like that?  Maybe these people grew up on a cul-de-sac in southern Hell and maybe their parents made them take naps in the oven as toddlers, but my body chemistry can’t function in that environment.  There should be some sort of compromise so that everyone is comfortable.  For instance, I’ll set the temperature to 70 degrees in your house, and then you can go sleep in the clothes dryer.

Despite my usual love for the cold though, even I have my limits.  I can only handle it as long I have an out.  Mornings are fine because I can crawl out from underneath the covers, turn the heater on, jump in a hot shower, and walk out to a warm room.  When I am put into the constant cold though, I whine like a little girl.  I spent one rebellious January night a decade or so ago camping with a friend of mine in temperatures that dipped down somewhere around Taylor Swift’s age.  It was a horrible night compounded by the realization that the morning wouldn’t bring any respite.  I was one big frozen complaint.  That knowledge has prompted me to buy a zero degree rated sleeping bag in the off chance I’m ever faced with a similar situation.

Last night I pulled that bag out again.  I came home from a gig in Oklahoma to find that the heater in my house had committed suicide.  Not that the winter’s here are insufferable by any means, but the past week has consistently hovered in the forties and the massive windows in my bedroom do very little to help with insulation.  I fell asleep under a mountain of blankets and awoke to see my breath escaping, cloud-like, from my mouth.  I buried myself beneath the covers to combat my fear that I would freeze instantly, like a combination lock sprayed with liquid nitrogen.  Hopefully, I thought to myself, that sort of thing only happens in the movies.

Eventually I talked myself into facing the icy air.  There were certainly solutions waiting for me out there in that frozen, waking world.  I had things to do and I needed to figure out a way to raise the temperature.  I called Home Depot to see if they had a space heater but they informed me that those were “seasonal” down here.  This is Texas and apparently winter already happened here on January 8th.   I missed it.

So now I’m up.  I’m huddled at my desk wearing three t-shirts and a brown hooded sweatshirt that makes me look like a shivering little Jedi or a really tall Jawa.  Feel free to choose whichever Star Wars metaphor makes you feel the happiest.  I am confronted with the ugly reality that I wouldn’t have survived in a pre-technological society.

The American frontier would probably have pushed me somewhere closer to Mexico, where I would have happily fought for independence from Spain in exchange for the promise of more comfortable temperatures.  My ability to get through the day should not ride on whether or not some piece of climate controlling equipment decided to commit seppuku.  If 2012 thrusts us into a post-apocalyptic landscape, I can only hope that I’m truly enough of a forward thinker to have booked myself for a show in Hawaii on December 20.

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SLADE HAM is a stand up comedian. He has performed in 52 countries on six continents, a journey that can be followed in his book, Until All the Dragons Are Dead. One day he hopes to host a travel show and continue to trick the world into paying him to do the things he loves to do. Slade is also an Editor for The Nervous Breakdown's Arts and Culture section. He keeps a very expensive storage unit in Houston, TX.

27 responses to “Awake in the Morning Frost”

  1. Love the imagery. I shivered.

  2. meghan says:

    i couldn’t have put it any better… i probably have more unnecessary pillows and blankets on my bed than anyone else, but when that pillow war breaks out i am fucking set. it gets very frustrating, though, trying to layer to keep warm, because you can put on all the long-sleeved shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, etc you want up top, but your legs are still going to freeze…and i’ve even tried two pairs of pajama pants…it’s just awkward feeling and still not that warm…thank God we are in Houston so it won’t be too cold very much longer. it’s what, 70-something now? if it were any warmer, i’d be complaining it’s too hot.

    • Slade Ham says:

      I think a pillow war is the ideal way to solve some of the world’s problems. And yes, it got warm here quickly. I’m much better now. You have to love 30 degree swings in twenty-four hours.

  3. Angela Tung says:

    so many funny lines in this, i don’t even know where to begin.

    i, too, love to sleep in the cold. i much prefer the heat to on low and to be huddled under piles of blankets.

    i just moved to san francisco and am already used to constant 60 degree weather. if it’s any lower than that, i start complaining, as though i never spent any time on the east coast.

    • Slade Ham says:

      Thank you. Getting the right mix of air temperature to covers is an under-appreciated science. I want to win the Nobel Prize for Comfort one day.

  4. We had one of the warmest nights on record over here a few days back – it didn’t get below about 96F all night long.

    I wasn’t impressed.

  5. D.R. Haney says:

    Very funny lines, yes.

    Apparently most men prefer to sleep in the cold, with windows open and so on, while most women prefer a warmer bed, with the heat turned up. I comply with the stereotype. I like to sleep with the blanket over my head, which may imply a kind of hiding. Or maybe a return to the womb? In any case, it’s very hard to remove myself from bed in the morning.

    • Slade Ham says:

      I guess more of us fall into it than I thought. I also sleep with my feet hanging out of the covers. I wonder what that represents? Something painful I’m guessing, if we continue the ‘womb” metaphor 🙂

  6. I like it to be a little cool when sleeping. I definitely have the AC on all summer… More than anything I hate the humidity.

    Outside of bed, though, I love the warmth. I need the heat. Cold weather kills me.

    • Slade Ham says:

      Humidity makes it a thousand times worse. Literally, exponential misery. As for my preference outside of bed, I find it much easier to warm up than to cool off.

      • Oh man, I have poor circulation, and consequently once I’m cold I’m cold for hours. On the other hand, if I’m hot I find a cold beer and some cold water on my feet will lower my body temperature significantly.

  7. Ducky says:

    I “grew up on a cul-de-sac in southern Hell.” I love the heat. Give me 100 degrees. Hate cold. Boo on cold.

  8. Kimberly says:

    I am currently wide awake (2:56am) because the recent addition of a warm-mist humidifier to balance out the moisture-sucking radiant heat (yes, I’m *that* girl) has thrown my usual window-cracked-to-perfect-the-cold-to-heat ratio all out of whack.

    I think it’s the Florida in me. When you grow up with Central Air (what was it that Kevin Smith wrote for Jason Lee/Azrael in ‘Dogma’?: “No pleasure, no rapture, no exquisite sin greater than central air…”) it’s impossible not to sleep in a perfect cocoon of blankets.

    Sweat-drenched insomnia sucks.

    • That being said, how good was Jason Lee in Dogma?

      ‘Well, I know how to make a Holy Bartender…’

      • Kimberly says:

        There isn’t one thing wrong with Dogma. Smith’s absolute best. And Jason Lee, as usual when working with Smith, is brilliant.

        • I loved that movie, but so many people I know hated it. My girlfriend despises every Kevin Smith movie.

        • Ducky says:

          Gads, I hated that movie. Had I not been with a group, I would have walked out. I think Smith is WAY overrated.

          I’m with David’s girlfriend.

        • Slade Ham says:

          As for Dogma, I am a HUGE fan… Definitely one of my favorite Kevin Smith films. With that said, he is still very overrated, especially after the travesty that was Zack and Miri. Clerks, Mallrats, and Dogma were amazing though.

        • Ducky says:

          Sorry. Not a fan of any of them. Clerks had moments, but really, it was just bad camera work, bad acting and bad writing.

          I don’t like it when a writer tries to hit me over the head with how “smart” he is (or she as is the case sometimes).

          Which isn’t to say I don’t like smart writing.

          Just my two cents, of course, which doesn’t really amount to much.

    • Slade Ham says:

      “Warm-mist humidifier” sounds like a super villain. Yuck. Anything that screws up that ratio should be destroyed.

  9. Thomas Wood says:

    But I think you’re lucky in the uniformity of your temperature need: it’s at least your whole body. By contrast, I have to turn the heater on and cover myself with six blankets and a girlfriend. Then, I have to make sure my head it right next to the window to allow for the cold to surround my head, ensuring fresh, chilly air to breath and hide from. I further ensure this state of self-induced brain-freeze by constructing a pillow fort around my head, which channels the air straight to my nose. See, you really are lucky.

    • Slade Ham says:

      Yeah, hahaha, you win. I am going to fall asleep nicely tonight knowing I didn’t have to work out some algorithm to get to proper balance. Thanks for putting it into perspective.

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