The Brutally Honest Take On What It’s Like to Be Cold All the Time that Left Me Stunned

The Brutally Honest Take On What It’s Like to Be Cold All the Time that Left Me Stunned


I heard quite possibly the best conversation ever on what it’s like to be cold when everyone else thinks the temperature is fine. As someone who has Raynaud’s disease and gets uncomfortably chilly even in the hottest months of the year due to frigid AC, I’m still thinking about it days later. It was downright profound, and it came out of the most unexpected place.

Ever heard of the hit HBO comedy Hacks? Rarely have I loved a show so much that I sought out its companion podcast, but Hacks is so good, I went searching for more after the season finale aired.

So there I was, listening to Hacks star Jean Smart discussing her role as the career-obsessed Deborah Vance, a fictional, very famous, aging comedian who is stuck in a rut creatively until she meets Ava, a spunky, “tells it like it is” twenty-something comedy writer. 

In episode 4 of The Official Hacks Podcast, Jean is talking about her character’s motivations when the conversation veers. 

“We should tell our listeners that Jean is wearing a sweatshirt that says ‘Yes, I’m cold,’” says Lucia Aniello, Hacks co-creator and co-host of the podcast.

Usually, if this kind of thing gets mentioned in an interview, it happens quickly and elicits no follow-up questions. Not this time. 

“Let’s talk about you and temperature for a minute,” Lucia says.

All of a sudden I’m hyper tuned-in. Is someone actually going to talk about being cold in a not-glossed-over way?

Jean explains that she’s been cold her whole life. Her regular body temperature, which she says is about 97.4 degrees F, is more than a full degree chillier than the standard 98.6. She doesn’t know why.

“I get cold all the time, and sound stages are notoriously cold,” the long-time actress says. “So I’m treated like the Queen of Sheba, and it’s kind of embarrassing actually, because my chair is surrounded by blankets and heaters.” 

That’s when Lucia chimes in that she’s “constantly freezing” too. 

“Here’s my feeling about cold and comedy,” Lucia says. “Ready for my hot take on this one? I think it’s almost impossible to be funny when you’re very cold because I think your brain literally shuts down, and you are in fight or flight, and your brain is saying ‘I need to survive. How can I think about being funny right now? We’re not in that place.’”

Meanwhile, an enthusiastic Jean can be heard in the background as Lucia speaks: “Thank you, thank you, yes, yes.”

Jean adds that while she gets cranky and uncomfortable when she’s too hot, “it doesn’t make me anxious. There’s something about being cold that makes me anxious.” 

Listening in podcast land, I’m blown away. I’d never heard anyone articulate so openly and insightfully the difficulties, frustrations, and embarrassments of constantly worrying about being cold.

As Jean and Lucia are bonding over their lifelong struggles to stay warm, fellow Hacks creator Paul W. Downs offers his thoughts:

“I think we register cold the same way we register pain,” Paul says. “So, you’re in pain when you’re cold. So, you know, I get that.”

Exactly, Paul. Thank you for another great insight on being cold and for delivering one of the most validating comments ever offered to people who are chronically shivering from someone who is not.

The conversation continues. 

Whenever Jean is feeling cold on set, “I am as well,” Lucia says. “I support you fully 100 percent.”

“Thank you honey and you as well,” Jean says. 

What a refreshing couple of minutes. Jean and Lucia’s convo illustrates that it’s not the mere fact that you’re cold that’s concerning, it’s what being cold does to you physically and mentally.

Whether you’re trying to be funny or trying to do anything that requires thinking, being cold sucks. It’s more than a minor annoyance. It makes you take your mind off what you need or want to be doing. It makes you feel self conscious, separates you from others, depletes your energy, floods you with stress, and forces your body into panic mode when you’re just trying to have a normal day. The nonstop struggle adds up. 

I appreciated that Jean and Lucia didn’t shrug it off and that their coworker Paul tried to relate. Sometimes it helps to simply acknowledge that things are difficult and to talk about it. You feel less alone and less crazy, and there might be someone listening who needs to hear it.

Interested in how my icicle fingers led me to take drastic measures? Check out “I have Raynaud’s So I Created the Heated Gloves of My Dreams.” 

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