Today is Officially Hot, meaning air conditioners around the city are humming full steam ahead, rolling brown outs and disappearing ice caps be damned. The complexities of cooling off multiply if you're blessed with roommates who have A/C units: how do you divvy up bloated power bills based on personal usage? Can pax airconditiana be maintained in common spaces that house pro and anti-A/C factions?

As soon as we walked into the office this morning we began arguing about whether or not to turn on the A/C (did you know that both The New York Times and the AP style guides are silent concerning any abbreviation for "air-conditioner?") and the ensuing debate widened to our own lives.

Lauren: I live with a couple of random folks from the internet, people selected on the basis that they didn't use the words "taxidermied poodle collection" or "big Metallica fan" during our introductory conversation. We see each other rarely; our most spirited interactions take place before 8 a.m. when someone has exceeded their Shower Time Limit and others of us need to brush our teeth so we can all shuffle off into the day and resume our separate lives.

So any air-conditioning that takes place is done in secret, behind closed doors, benefiting only the keeper of that particular bedroom. We have a common space, but it's not equipped with an A/C unit because using it would imply that the three of us ever sit around and chuckle over Seinfeld reruns together, which we do not.

In short, the extent of any sharing done among us is when I steal some of their milk. Unless the two of them hang out and don't invite me, which is certainly possible. Particularly now that I've confessed to milk-stealing.

Chris: I've known and lived with my two roommates for several years (roommates are invaluable in confirming 2 a.m. mouse sightings and Scary Noises) so I am quite comfortable with telling them to cut back on excessive A/C usage.

When we let our three units (two bedroom, one common room) run unabated our power bill can be more than $300. Reminding them (and myself, while I clutch my sweat-soaked teddy bear in a fitful delirium) of this usually does the trick. You won't find it on ConEd's "Energy Saving Tips" website, but throwing around the phrase "Freon-Sucking Coward" can also be effective.

Your A/C situation is a bit like group dining: you can either all agree to be extravagant ("Wooooo, TWO Moscow Mules!") and split it evenly, or the Misers must stand up and identify themselves and negotiate a fair method of dividing the bill.

Lauren: I agree on the group dining approach to sweat-abatement, but the problem remains the same: When splitting the bill, it's essential that all parties are apprised of the payment situation prior to ordering, (or in this case, A/C-enjoying). If you know from the onset that you'll be sharing your bill with your dining companions/roommates, common courtesy would suggest that you not order the Caviar-Dusted Filet Mignon with Conflict Diamond Au Jus, opting instead for the more reasonably priced Modest Chicken with Unadorned Potato.

I believe the equivalent of this courtesy is, if you know yourself to be the type of person whose forearms threaten to glisten in any temperature above 60 degrees, perhaps make an effort to take your sweaty corpus to locations where cool air is already extant, such as the movie theater or the climate-controlled sidewalks of SoHo. Yes, you may PREFER to stay sealed in your personal meat locker all day, but then you will be That Housemate. You don't want to be That Housemate, do you?

Chris: I don't know Lauren, it sounds like you're just sweat-shaming. Shouldn't the people who helplessly perspire the most be forgiven for cranking their A/C? ("Blessed are those who crouch down to use hand dryers on their armpits, for they will be comforted," etc.)

Maybe you propose a "nights only" rule? Or a policy of only using the fans in the A/C units, and saving the cool juice for when the temperature hits 90? Have you broached this subject yet with them at all? Is one of your roommates heir to the Friedrich fortune?

Lauren: Look, I'm as sweaty as anyone, but I do think that at a certain point, a person has to loosen their collar and embrace the crushing misery of New York Summer. To air-condition is human; to helplessly sweat, divine. That's a quote you may have heard. Also, using a hand dryer on your armpits? Isn't that like drinking a Slurpee to warm up?

In any case, I do like the "nights only" rule. Everyone is entitled to a good night's sleep, and after all, waking up sticky only ensures that they'll be enjoying the cooling mists of the coveted shower for longer, anyway.

Chris: Right, and Fan Death. No one wants Fan Death.