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"Cool Customers"

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By Jerry Zezima

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the family room. Or, even better, buy a new air conditioner.

That's what my wife, Sue, and I did recently because the old air conditioner, which was in a wall sleeve in the family room when we moved into our house 16 years ago, was beginning to spew out even more hot air than I do.

So we decided to play it cool and get one that actually works.

"Will you be installing it yourself?" asked a salesman at the appliance store.

"Not unless the warranty covers my hospital stay," I responded.

Thus did Kevin Beyer and his stepnephew, Matt Grescuk, arrive on a Saturday afternoon to remove the old air conditioner, an asthmatic hulk that looked like it belonged in a Model T, and install the new unit, a high-tech appliance that looks like it belongs on the Starship Enterprise and weighs about as much as a baby grand piano.

"I would have ruptured a vital organ doing this," I said.

"I just saved your life," replied Kevin, who told me, after he and Matt had ripped out the old air conditioner, that we had the wrong electrical outlet. "You need a 220 for the new air conditioner," he said, noting that we had a 110.

I called Sue on her cellphone to ask what we should do, as if either one of us could make the switch without getting electrocuted, but she didn't pick up, so I left a message. A few minutes later, she arrived home and said, "I was getting my nails done."

"That's another reason why I couldn't install the new air conditioner," I told Kevin. "I didn't want to break a nail."

"Most guys don't want to be bothered with stuff like this, so you're not alone," Kevin said. "Then there are the ones who think they're handy. They try to do things themselves and of course they mess up and their wives just roll their eyes. Most of the time, their wives are handier than they are."

"That's the case here," Sue chimed in.

"So you mean that ignorance really is bliss?" I said.

"For a lot of guys, yes," said Kevin. "For me, it's good for business."

"Are you handy?" I asked.

"I'm here, aren't I?" he said, adding that he owns KSB Construction in Commack, N.Y. "I install air conditioners on the side."

"That's appropriate," I said, "considering this one is on the side of the house."

Kevin ignored the remark and continued, "I do roofing, kitchens, bathrooms, you name it."

"I'm petrified of heights," I said, "so I don't go on the roof."

"I can't get this body up there anymore," confessed Kevin, a burly man of 46. "I let my guys do it for me."

That includes Matt, who at 19 is about the same age Kevin was when he got into this line of work. "I've learned a lot from him," Matt said. "Especially roofing," he added with a smile.

When we went outside so Kevin could make sure the new air conditioner was in the sleeve properly, Sue said she wanted to do some gardening, so she asked me to get her a trowel and a pair of gloves from the shed. I emerged with them a moment later.

"See, you're not totally useless after all," Kevin said, adding that he and Matt would take away our old air conditioner.

"If I left it on the curb, someone might steal it," I joked.

"Don't laugh," said Matt. "Someone would."

"Don't forget to call an electrician," Kevin advised. "Once you get the new AC up and running, your wife won't have to worry about your hot air anymore."

Stamford Advocate columnist Jerry Zezima is the author of "Leave It to Boomer" and "The Empty Nest Chronicles." Visit his blog at www.jerryzezima.blogspot.com. Email: JerryZ111@optonline.net.

Copyright 2014 by Jerry Zezima