I heat with electricity and propane gas. Both involve extracting non-renewable fossil fuels from the earth and both put pollutants in the atmosphere at some stage of their production. So the more fuel I burn, the more pollution I'm responsible for. Thus the cold house.
Most of my friends are probably used to it by now. They know to dress warmly when they visit me this time of year. And they don't automatically take off their coats when they come inside.
They do linger close to the furnace, however. I have one of those wonderful furnaces that's built right into the floor, with a large vent screen spewing out heat between the kitchen and the living room. People tend to hover around it, and when they're really cold they straddle it and positively wallow in the hot air flow.
So they manage to keep reasonably warm, or at least they don't complain about it. I sometimes wonder if some people don't visit me because of the cold, but I still have enough friends to keep me happy.
But now I've got a new bug up my sleeve, and I'm worried about losing some of the friends who have managed to bear with me so far.
My new pet peeve is people who stand in doorways, holding the door open.
It's usually because they remember about 20 different things they forgot to say before they opened the door. But since they've already said a preliminary goodbye, they don't think to come back inside and close the door. No, they just stand there as what little heat I have inside streams out and the sky grows dark with noxious pollutants. So I'm not listening to what they say anyway.
I just want them to either come back inside or get out, and close the door. I'm afraid anything I'd say would sound rude, like either: 1) "If you're going to keep on talking endlessly, come back inside and shut the door," or 2) "For heaven's sake, shut up and leave."
The only alternative is to say something to them before they open the door in the first place, like: "Please make sure you've said everything you want to say to me before you open the door, so you won't waste energy holding it open." Somehow that sounds rude, too.
Perhaps I could go outside with them, so I could shut the door and then they could keep on talking. That might be the solution. After all, I'll probably already have a hat and coat on.
Dennis Shaw is a former Herald-Mail editor. Write to him at P.O. Box 276, Clear Spring, Md. 21722, or call 301-842-3863.