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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

October Showers Bring Shivery Glowers

(Secondhand SCIENCE comin’ at ya! This week, it’s all about immunoglobulins.

Or goblins. Or greeters. Something. Science is weird.)

I understand now why people worry about a “nanny state”.

For a long time, I didn’t get it. A nanny state would be where whomever’s in charge tells you what’s good for you, and tries to keep you safe and healthy. Like a nanny — hence the name.

(But not like the Nanny. If we ever elect Fran Drescher to tell us what to do, I’m moving to Canadia. Or preferably, Jupiter.)

Having someone looking out for us always seemed like a pretty good idea to me. Life is hard. A lot of us are pretty dumb. If a nanny state could tell me not to eat a whole pizza at once or drive with parking brake on or not to see that awful Vacation movie remake, would that be so bad? I might give up a bit of personal privacy to make better decisions. Or to have them made for me. Whichever.

Hell, maybe I’d even give up a lot of privacy, if it was worth it. We could elect people to floss us every morning, check our moles for weird growths and talk sternly to us about our browser histories — right before they wipe them clean for us, devirus our computers and dunk our keyboards in industrial sanitizer.

That all sounds pretty great, frankly. Or did, until this week. Because:

Last Sunday, we had our water heater replaced. Apparently when that happens, the new equipment needs an inspection. And to pass that inspection, the upper limit on water temperature can’t exceed a certain level. That’s so you don’t accidentally turn a faucet all the way to “hot” and accidentally scald yourself. A mini-nanny state, at work.

That’s all well and good — except we don’t know exactly when the inspector will show up, and the max temperature allowed by law is approximately thirty degrees below where we’d set the last heater’s max temp. So for a week, I’ve been taking the most disappointing showers since my wife stopped getting those Victoria’s Secret catalogs in the mail.

“By the time I’m rinsing Gee, Your Hair’s Getting Gray and Stringy off my scalp, I’m ready for more boosts of heat.”

It’s an insidious thing, too — because the showers start off as usual. I turn the water on warm-but-not-hot, to get used to the feel. And the under-amped new heater handles that just fine. But after a minute or two, I acclimate. And I want more heat, so I crank it up. And up. And up.

The first couple cranks are fine. That might get me to the hair-soaping stage. But that’s it. By the time I’m rinsing Gee, Your Hair’s Getting Gray and Stringy off my scalp, I’m ready for more boosts of heat. For years, I’ve had them. But this week, it’s like showering with Scotty from Star Trek, bellowing: “She cann’a give ya more, cap’n!

And he won’t even check my moles. Useless.

So I finish my showers all lukewarm and grumpy. I like my usual temperature progression, from “warmish” to “steamy” to “McDonald’s lawsuit coffee hot” to “just shy of Mount Doom lava pool”. But this week, it’s all wrong. I top out at “cafeteria soup temperature”, and that’s all I’ve got. Stupid nanny state rules, anyway.

And all so I won’t scald myself. Which, let’s be honest — I would scald myself, because that’s the whole freaking point. It’ll be winter in New England soon. We’re pretty much numb for six months a pop here; you need a second-degree burn every now and then just to thaw the nerve endings.

But I’ll scald myself gradually, which is the responsible way to do it. I would understand the temperature rule, if it’s a household with children. Children are complete idiots, with precisely two speeds: “unconscious” and “goddamn lunatic”. They would totally crank a faucet to boiling and suck on it, because half of them don’t know the answer to: “yeah, yeah — but is stove hot today?

I guess what I’m saying is, I wouldn’t mind a nanny state, with certain provisions — mostly for idiot children — but I also want this stupid inspection to happen so I can take a decent shower.

Also, I should probably look into a less emasculating shampoo, and someone really needs to come over and check these moles for weirdness. Now who do I have to elect to take care of that?

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