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My basement has turned into an air conditioner museum

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Welcome to air conditioner season, when the temperature rises to the point where you realize that you should have bought a new unit last fall, when they cost less and were actually available on store shelves.

Instead, you make a hopeful run to Home Depot to stand elbow to elbow with other sweaty procrastinators, staring at empty pallets, waiting for the next shipment.

Or maybe you're like my wife and me. We have an air conditioner collection. It's in our basement.

They are window units of all sizes, new and antique. Some are pristinely clean, and others have filters loaded with dust mites, black mold spores, and centipedes.

There is the little one, which has been through so many apartment moves it resembles the pace car at a demolition derby. There's one from our apartment in New York, and two more from the next apartment, an open space that demanded heavy Btus on both floors.

The remaining two come from I-don't-remember. My best guess is that I have been dragging one from basement to basement since the dissolution of my first marriage, when she dropped it out the second-floor window but missed me, though not necessarily on purpose.

The other might have come from the side of the road, picked up because on that particular day I'd deluded myself into thinking that just because something was left out as trash didn't mean there was anything wrong with it. (And just because a guy can't operate a screwdriver doesn't mean he can't learn appliance repair.)

Those are just the units in the basement, not the ones we're using.

We did own the previously mentioned big, quiet $550 mega-Btu air conditioners, but when we bought the house and then paid for new electric wiring and windows, the only outlets left with old electric wires, by coincidence, were under the two big windows.

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