A long-time Forest Parker said that when they bought their house their first priorities were to boost the electrical capacity, tear out the radiators and install central air. We are so thankful we didn’t make any of these improvements to our house. If we had, we would never have enjoyed the closeness we felt during the recent heat wave.

How close did our family get? Well, when there’s only one bedroom with a window unit you can bet everyone’s going to haul their mattress in. We were just like the Waltons at bedtime: except they had their own rooms and weren’t saying goodnight from two feet away. My kids were huddled masses yearning to fall asleep before sweat could sting their eyes.

Mealtimes were another bonding experience for us. Since we couldn’t stand the heat, we got out of the kitchen and headed to air-conditioned restaurants. Eating out can be expensive but in the spirit of closeness we shared entrees.

We never wanted to be apart – piling into one car to share the AC and save money on gas. Sleeping, eating and riding together was such a bonding experience, I hoped the heat wave wouldn’t end.

But finally a big storm came to wash away the humidity. I was just sitting down to watch a Sox game, when the storm went a little crazy and knocked out our electricity. There was still sultry air trapped inside our house, so when the fans stopped turning, the AC stopped pumping and the refrigerator stopped humming, it became unbearable. And boring.

In a situation like this, complaining only makes it worse for everyone, so I ranted against the weather and the electric company. The other family members lit candles, rather than cursing the darkness. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and went to an air-conditioned restaurant with my son to watch the game. Wouldn’t you know it – Kansas City gets hit by a hurricane and the Sox go into extended rain delay.

When we got home, I forgot for the hundredth time that the heat and humidity had swelled our front door shut. Even removing the hinges didn’t help in getting it open. I never dreamed I’d become a “back door man” at my own house.

The power remained off for hours. We no longer had our little igloo upstairs. In fact, each stair I climbed, the air became more stifling. I tried every floor of the house, including the basement, but couldn’t find relief.

I was just settling into a soggy lawn chair in the back yard, when the lights popped on at 2 a.m. Our food hadn’t spoiled and the igloo was back open for business. But I knew that with the heat wave over, our family would splinter again into separate rooms.

So, if you’re settling in Forest Park, keep that 15-amp service, don’t touch the radiators and put a window unit in your bedroom. You’ll never have to wonder where your kids are at night.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.