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COLD HANDS CAN LEAD TO HEATED WORDS

A sudden storm moved in a few Sundays ago, complete with gusty winds, dropping our Western New York spring weather quickly from 70 degrees to 55 degrees. Shivering, I went from window to window, slamming them shut.

"What are you doing?" asked my husband, sipping iced tea. I braced myself, knowing what was coming.

"I'm cold."

"Cold?" he said incredulously. "How can you be cold?"

I didn't show him my goosebumps, blue fingernails or even the thermometer; I just sighed. In marriage, you pick your battles. Was this the hill I wanted to die on? No.

Then I noticed that the tarantula's heat lamp was on. (I should interject here that my son got a tarantula for his 10th birthday. "Prickles" is kept in the living room, in a special terrarium with - trust me - a very snug lid.)

The spider book said he'd need a warming light, but only at night. This was 2:30 p.m.

"Who turned Prickles' light on?" I asked, holding my hands near the bulb gratefully. My husband admitted that he had.

"So you do think it's cold in here!" I said triumphantly.

He didn't stop fanning himself. "It's cold in here - for a tarantula."

It's too late for me, but young women considering marriage should state their heat requirements first. Our first home was an otherwise charming apartment with a pokey, phlegmatic furnace. We managed to heat the top floor (where the living room was) to 90, while never getting the ground floor (where the kitchen, bath and bedrooms were) above 60. At night, when my husband turned the thermostat down to 55, it got even colder. There was ice on the windows - on the inside.

We were newlyweds, so I was timid when I complained that I was cold at night. He lustily said "I'll keep you warm!" Then he gave me a knitted ski cap to wear to bed.

My best winter so far was the year my husband decided to brew beer at home. The recipe said the beer must be kept at 70 degrees, night and day. I wanted that beer project to last forever.

My husband gets his love of Arctic interior temperatures from his mother, who likes her bedroom a few degrees cooler than a meat locker. My father-in-law goes nowhere in their house without an afghan to wrap around his knees; I knew him for six months before I was sure he was wearing pants.

In our house, this thermo-battle is divided strictly along gender lines, and I'm the lone female on my side of the DMZ. Even Prickles is male. If I'd had the foresight to have daughters, perhaps the car windows would be closed before icicles formed on my bangs.

I think it was Jay Leno who said there are two differences between the sexes: Women are always cold, and they don't think the Three Stooges are funny.

I do smile at Curly, Larry and Moe; you just can't tell, because my lips are frozen.

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