This Memorial Day weekend was the hottest of the year, and I decided to be the best boyfriend ever and buy my guy an AC, as he didn’t have one.
Things went awry right away. After he left for work Saturday morning, I measured his window: 52 inches wide. I spent an hour researching window AC units: They just don’t make any that big, unless I wanted something utility for thousands of dollars. Some people online had custom plexiglass pieces made to fill the window, but I wanted to surprise him that night.
After more research, I decided to get a portable AC unit. They cost more and use more energy, but it seemed like the best option. There were a ton of great deals online, but none of them would deliver until Tuesday at the earliest—Memorial Day Weekend, hello—and I didn’t know what I would do if nobody was home to pick it up. So I got my ass out of bed, showered and went on a quest to find one in person.
My first stop was Best Buy, which claimed online to have some of the one I wanted in stock. An employee led me right to the AC section—which was empty. I realized I was shopping for an AC on the hottest day of the year during Memorial Day weekend sales. Panicking, I Googled every place near Chelsea selling AC units.
I went to five stores with no luck—everyone was sold out. I ended up at P. C. Richard, hot and aggravated, where I was greeted right away. “I need an 8,000 BTU portable AC,” I explained.
“Oh, no you don’t. You need at least a 10, maybe 12,000.”
I stared at him. “You don’t know anything about me or the room I’m trying to cool down.”
“Well, when you go from a window AC to portable, you need to get more BTU.”
“But I never said I was doing that.” He stared at me. “Please just show me everything you have in 8,000 BTU.”
He typed on a computer for a second. “Looks like we’re all out of 8,000, but we have several in 10 and 12.”
He showed me everything they had—which were all $200+ out of my range. I brought up the one I wanted on Amazon and showed him on my iPhone. “I can get this right now for $270. I’m willing to spend more to get it here, and get it tonight, but you’re not helping me out.”
“This is all we have in stock,” he said, and left me to think. After a bit of deliberation, I was about to just leave when I saw a Danby unit, a brand I hadn’t heard of that the salesman failed to show me. It had high ratings on Amazon, so I asked what they had in stock.
He typed on his computer. “Looks like I have five of the 8,000s in stock.”
My whole body, already hot, lit on fire. “So you’re telling me you do, in fact, have the one thing that I asked for when I first came in?” He said nothing. “Listen, I understand that y’all are trying to upsell because you probably work on commission, but I came in knowing exactly what I wanted, and you told me flat out that you didn’t have it.” He said nothing. “OK—I’m gonna buy this. But I need you to get someone else to ring me up, because I’m not giving you commission for this.” Still without a word, he left and got someone else to run my credit card.
Another employee helped me flag a cab, and before I knew it I was on the West Side Highway. The cab’s AC was broken, but I wasn’t even mad—until he took the wrong turn off my exit. He turned around as soon as he could, but I forgot that my boyfriend’s apartment is on a one-way street: The only way to get there was to get back onto the highway, adding even more money to my ride—so, in my frustration, I insisted he just let me off at the corner.
The AC weighed almost 80 pounds, and I couldn’t lift it. I had to push it down an entire block—my arms ached by the time I got to his apartment building. I only had a key to the apartment, not the building, and waited 20 minutes before someone left, and I got inside.
I opened the box in his room, which felt like a sauna. There were all of these pieces I didn’t expect to see, including a giant funnel—and I realized, duh, even though it’s a “portable” AC, it still has to siphen hot air out of the room. The directions had simple pictures and very few words. It took me 30 minutes just to figure out how to install the plastic board into the window, and then I had to hook up the funnel hose thingy. Hot, flustered and sweating more than I ever have before, I stripped down into just my jockstrap, giving the neighbors across the street a show.
What should have taken me 10 minutes took an hour, but I finally got the unit installed, plugged in and turned on—my ass hanging out all the while. It measured that it was 96 degrees inside his room—four degrees hotter than outside. His room was a heat trap.
I sat on the bed for 10 minutes, which of course wasn’t enough for the room to cool down, but I started panicking. Was the salesguy right? Did I need the 12,000? Should I have gotten a window unit and have plexiglass cut? Will I ever be able to wear pants inside his apartment again? Do I even want to?
I decided to go to my own apartment until my boyfriend was off of work, six hours later. Sure enough, the room cooled down so much we put the AC on auto instead of cool.
And for that night, at least, I was the best boyfriend ever.