Ross said our teacher was lying and that his dad said those horror stories were just propaganda the liberals spew during election season.
I didn't correct him. I stared at my desk for the rest of the period and cut the next one to go smoke with Susie behind the 4-H building.
So, now that I'm a big, shiny, grown-up; the captain of my own fate; I am utterly terrified of being without heat in the winter, or getting my electric turned off, or my water.
I don't see this actually happening. I'm pretty fanatical about my bills. I pretty much lived off of peanut butter sandwiches, ramen noodles, and the onion rings that the cooks snuck me when I worked at the Donut Hole for three months and my old car died, my roommate flaked on the electric bill one month and the cable another month, and I was making just over minimum wage.
But the fear of throwing down a blanket on the kitchen floor and snuggling up next to the oven apparently skews my perception of what is and is not "acceptable" to the rest of the world.
Today at lunch in Cube Town, my co-workers were bitching about their heating bills and we basically ended up going around the table and sharing our tales of "Woe is me, my thermostat is only set at _______ and I pay so much."
With a thermostat set at 55 and a thermometer that reads my apartment's actual temperature at 59, I won, hands down. The general response from most of my co-workers fell along the lines of "wow" and "impressive" and "well, aren't you a fucking trooper." But then there was my cube-neighbor, Dolores, who, for a variety of reasons that are more tedious than I'd like to hash out right now, I'm fairly sure hates me a little bit. Not alot, just a little.
Dolores waited until the table cleared and it was just the two of us, my can of Diet Coke and her half-eaten bag of pop corn.
"How can you live like that?"
"You don't have any heat in your apartment?"
"What? No, no, I have heat. I just keep it really low because I'm terrified of my bills getting too high." I punctuated my sentence with a nervous laugh and an awkwardly timed sip from my can.
"That's...that's really low." Dolores said. "How can you stand it?"
I wanted to say something snarky and cutting and assertive of my superior ability to keep calm and carry on. Instead, I shrugged and said, "Oh, a pair of sweatpants, two t-shirts, two pair of socks, a hoodie, and a big wool quilt."
Dolores nodded slowly and gave me that appraising look, the one Francis Fisher gives Leonardo DiCaprio when he shows up for dinner in Titanic. "I just hope you aren't one of those people who throws blankets over the windows and crawls into their oven for warmth. That's so trashy. I don't even..." she shook her head and excused herself and went back to her cube. I sat at the table, staring at my silver and red can of Diet Coke.
I don't even like Diet Coke.