When I got home after work yesterday, the temperature in my house was 62 degrees. Maybe it was the gray day, but I immediately turned on the heater – contrary to my normal guy-like thinking that doing such a thing is equivalent to burning money.

At school earlier that day, a student walked in and told me she was cold. She half-heartedly asked if I would turn on the heater in my classroom and I said, “Sure, when it’s cold enough.” The room was nearly 70 degrees, and that didn’t warrant turning on the heat.

She then asked, “What is it about men that they don’t want to turn on the heater?”

It was a good question. It probably has something to do with our belief that we don’t need to stop for directions or our reluctance to see the doctor.

Some men think it’s not manly to get warm using a machine. Add an undershirt, grab a strong cup of coffee, start a fire – now that’s manly warming. I prefer hot chocolate to coffee, but it doesn’t feel as manly to say “I could sure use a piping hot cup of cocoa.”

Setting the thermostat to 72 so you can wear shorts indoors in November is not manly.

My wife and I have done the thermostat tango a few times: She’ll bump up hallway thermostat from 64 to 68 on her way to the kitchen, and I’ll pop it back down to 64 on my way to the bathroom. Then she’ll realize that she doesn’t hear or feel the heat, so she’ll bump the thermostat back up. Then I’ll hear the heater come on and say, “Geez, are we trying to melt something?” and I’ll try to sneak it down a degree or two.

Eventually, we’ll settle the feud by picking a number between her request for excessive heat and my “let’s save money and freeze” number.

Most of the time, I would rather put on an extra shirt and a sweatshirt than turn up the thermostat. Shredded money might as well fly out of the floor vents when I hear the heater blowing. Yes, I’m a cheapskate, but I have to be really cold in order to give in to the draw of the magical forced heat machine.

I love using the fireplace, which I did last night. It’s an ancient tradition – man and fire; log and flame; flint and embers. Truth be told, it’s dried oak wood that I bought from somebody else who cut it; then I placed it on top of a Duraflame Firestart bundle; and blasted it with the natural gas flame that’s hooked up in my fireplace.

The end result is a quickly-starting fire that crackles and glows for hours as I proudly nod at the conflagration that I started and now control. The heat slowly fills the room as we watch “Survivor” and the whole family comments on how warm we are.

As the evening winds down and the boys go off to bed, I close the fireplace screen and head to my room, my face flushed with warmth. About two-thirds of the way down the tiled hallway, though, my feet are freezing and I realize the heat from the fire kept the house heater from triggering, so my room was freezing as well.

“I’ll be back in a minute,” I tell my wife. “I want to double-check that I closed the fireplace screen.”

I creep back down the cold hallway and slyly bump up the thermostat by four or five degrees. Yes, I’m a thrifty man who would rather be moderately comfortable than toasty warm most of the time. And yes, I’m waving the white flag in the battle for heater supremacy. But as any real man will tell you; it’s hard to sleep when your tootsies are cold.

Adam Breen teaches journalism and yearbook at San Benito High School. He is former editor of The Free Lance. E-mail comments, questions, or suggestions to him at [email protected].

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