'There's Something Cool About the Heat'

When most watercooler talk is about the weather and most people, at least in the coastal region, count their time between air-conditioners in seconds, a very different phenomenon has come to light. People who pass the hot, sticky summer months without air-conditioning.

There's no need to pity them and it would be a mistake to assume they have no choice. AC refusers pity the rest of the population - those who live in humidity-free, temperature-regulated biospheres. Those trapped in offices with closed windows who aren't experiencing the most natural aspect of summer - sweat.

"People complain that they can't breathe without air-conditioning," says dancer and choreographer Rina Shinfeld, while practicing yesterday in a hot, unair-conditioned studio. "But I think they just panic. Sweat purifies and cleans the pores."

About half of Israel's electricity consumption goes to temperature control, a number the Israel Electric Corporation tries desperately to reduce. The campaign for people to keep their air-conditioners at 25 degrees Celsius is one such effort, since no one would dream of unplugging the units altogether. Almost no one.

"For years I lived in sealed, air-conditioned offices. I was sick all the time," recalls Tel Aviv resident Tamar Zeri. "It's unnatural. Get up and go to the beach if it's too hot. Eat ice cream."

Twenty-four-year-old alternative medicine student Michal Asher says, "First of all, I'm not that hot. Second, there is something cool about the heat. It feels a little like a trip abroad, a real, tropical summer. I have an air conditioner and I just don't use it. It goes on sometimes when friends come over or when my boyfriend really, really suffers from the heat."