I don’t like to complain, but I’ve got a problem with summer. I hate summer. I hate it like I hate mosquitoes, sweat dripping in my eyes and the greasy feel of sunscreen. To me, summer’s pure misery. I try my best to stay in my house from mid-June until early October. During that spell, I set the thermostats at 70, and I leave them there. And don’t any of you Greenies start up with me—I turn the heat down to 62 for fall and winter.The only things I really like about summer are the sweet corn and ripe tomatoes.Well, truth be told, I don’t really mind the jogging college women, molded into their running togs, their sculpted thighs and calves straining, their glistening beads of sweat trickling down their sculpted abdomens, and that dreamy-eyed, head-back, open-mouthed look they get when the endorphins hit. I’ve got my reasons for not liking summer. Back home in South Carolina where I grew up, there were two summer temperatures: hell-hot all day and bathwater-hot all night. That kind of heat can destroy your brain, your heart and your mind.For most of the 27 years I lived in the Jowers house, we had no air-conditioning. There was just the Hunter Zephair fan, mounted in the kitchen window. We set it to suck instead of blow, then cracked every window in the house about four inches. Each Jowers settled in front of a window. My mother Susie stayed in the kitchen, making delicious fried chicken, lard-laced biscuits and cream gravy that would clog up the adult Jowerses’ hearts and kill them before they turned 50.Meanwhile, in the living room, my daddy Jabo got the recliner in front of the TV, and I took a seat on the sofa. The mighty Zephair pulled in the swampy air. If you stayed planted right in front of your window, the breeze would dry off your sweat about as fast as you could make it.When I turned 6, I spent my days at Burnettown Elementary School, a quarter-mile up the road from my house. Burnettown Elementary had radiator heat, but it didn’t have any air-conditioning. Around the first of May, the teachers pulled up the blinds and opened the triple-hung windows. They pulled the top sash down, pushed the bottom sash up, and hoped that cross-ventilation and convection would keep thirtysomething children from getting heat stroke.After six years of lower education, we Burnettown kids went to Langley-Bath-Clearwater High School, which we called LBC. Well, don’t you know, LBC had radiant heat in the floors, but it didn’t have any air-conditioning. LBC had about 30 kids in every classroom, each sweating and oozing hormones. The classrooms smelled a lot like the locker rooms. Oh, in case you’re wondering, I can’t really remember smelling the girls’ locker room, but I’m pretty sure I did. Once or twice. Hell, truth be told, I smelled it just about every day.During my high school years, Jabo came home one day with an enormous heat-and-air unit, a machine built to cool, say, a high school gym. “I found it at the side of the road,” he said.After a few days’ work, Jabo had the AC unit hooked up and ready to go. The thermometer in the house registered 90 degrees. Jabo, sweating like a muleskinner, turned to me and said, “It’s a damn fine day to have some AC, don’t you think, boy?”“Fire it up,” I said. “I’ve been waiting for this since I was born.”Jabo flipped the switch. The lights dimmed, the mighty AC unit groaned, the walls shook and the mighty wind from the ducts blew the curtains up to the ceiling. Ten minutes later, it was wintertime-cold in the Jowers house.“I believe this thing’s a little oversized,” Jabo said.“Don’t take anything out of it,” I replied. “I like it just like it is.”A few weeks later, just after my high school graduation, Jabo’s cream gravy collected all in one spot and gave him a heart attack. He dropped dead on the dance floor of the Amvet’s Club in Augusta, Ga. The big air-conditioner couldn’t live without Jabo, and it died soon after he did.After six years at LBC, most of us college-bound kids drove eight miles up the road to the University of South Carolina at Aiken (USCA), which at the time held classes in a mansion named “Banksia.” Well, don’t you know, Banksia had a ballroom, church-high ceilings, chestnut floors and a slate roof, but she didn’t have any air-conditioning. In September, and again in May, teachers and students poured sweat all day in Banksia. But the next year, USCA moved into a brand new, but soulless, two-story brick building. At age 19, I finally had AC all dang day.The next summer, my rock ’n’ roll band started rehearsing in the dining room of the Jowers house. The Hunter Zephair had long since burnt up, and the house was back to hell-hot.So our sound man—who besides being dedicated to the band, had a day job at a heat-and-air company—helped himself to a couple of his employer’s brand new heat-and-air units. He picked up one for the house, and one for Jabo’s old metal shop. I read the instructions, and I hooked those sumbitches up. Now the band, girlfriend Brenda and I had AC full-time.Not too long after that, our sound man found out that his wife had a boyfriend, so he climbed into his bathtub and shot himself in the heart.Today, I imagine Jabo and the sound man meeting up in the afterlife and talking about how they both hit their last good lick putting air-conditioners in the Jowers house.I sure hope the heat’s not bothering them now.